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Argentina - Elements for a program of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development

1999, by CTERA (Argentinean Confederation of Education Workers)


CTERA, through its Marina Vilte training center, develops a training project addressed to teachers at all levels and in all disciplines of the education system. One of the working axis is the program of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development, which has organized a number of courses, seminars, workshops and symposia during several years. These activities have encountered a growing demand by teachers and also by students, NGOs, and governmental or private institutions.
Environmental Education, despite its relative youth, has strongly penetrated the curricula of the education system at both formal and informal levels, and this has created a strong demand for teachers.
Unfortunately, this exigency has not had the preventive nature that would be desirable, and this has led the destruction, the under-utilization, the degradation, the abuse, and the pollution that clearly characterize the environmental crisis, as well as to the non sustainable nature of the development model imposed by the Neo-liberalism.
Despite the inclusion of these issues in the school curricula, there is usually in the training of teachers a vision that lacks any criticism about the clear and direct incidence of the current social, political and economic development model on this disastrous situation. The necessary politicization of analyses, research and possible solutions is then prevented.

Education and training for new skills will necessarily underlie any possible change for a sustainable future, but this will not be feasible without an effective stance-taking, participation, commitment and the creation of new productive rationales able of surpassing the conservative discourse in order to adopt new ethical, social and cultural attitudes that need to be the driving forces for the passage towards a new modern, revolutionary, productive and democratic rationality.

It is undoubtedly necessary to create an environmental awareness in all scientific, technological, cultural, social and economic activities, namely, the subjective appropriation of a new environmental knowledge. This knowledge should be critical, reflection-based, and dynamic. At the same time, power strategies need to be created able of finishing the accumulation of current environmental problems. If the latter continue at the present rhythm, any proposal of change towards environmental sustainability and rationality will be unfeasible.

This is then about collecting all the socially valid scientific and technological knowledge able of building feasible alternatives for opposing the hegemonic model presented as natural and immutable, and about transforming this knowledge into a social power able of bringing together all the forces that are needed to change the destructive and overwhelming reality based on interests that are powerful yet questionable from both scientific and technical viewpoints.

Creating a new science; building with plural, democratic and ethical approaches; not only working with the an interdisciplinary approach; taking into account the complexity by accepting the disorder, the chaos and the uncertainty as integral parts of our knowledge; but also building the new knowledge in order to employ it as an instrument of change to organize the society by establishing the social networks that enable us to find alternatives that question the absolute power of markets, all by requiring the respect for human, social and civil rights. We need to transform the consciousness and at the same time the behavior of human beings. These are the orientations we want to give to these seminars and to the other activities that will take place during this year within this program of Environmental Education for Sustainable Development, an orientation that mobilizes our energies, that encourages our involvement as active subjects of history and as driving forces of a change that, if restricted to the theoretical sphere, is useless.

We wish to advance towards a change that enable us as teachers to find the meaning of our practices and to rebuild at the same time, from our work, participation or militancy places, the rationality of a social contract that is currently biased by economic irrationality and dehumanization.
This should help us to unmask the ecologist discourses employed as slogans by the different sectors in power, by many international agencies, and by a number of neutral scientists that try to hide by means of a technocratic and unconditional glorification reflex that current development processes have dissociated science and ethics, and are unavoidably leading us to self-destruction.
Finally, this should ease for ourselves, for our people, for our civil society, the reconstruction of alternatives for referring, with generosity and solidarity, to new global paradigms: diversity, complexity, and sustainability, that will prevent the satisfaction of current needs from compromising the future of humankind.

Construyamos la pedagogía del desarrollo sostenible, by Norma Tambolini.
Educación ambiental y desarrollo sustentable, by Enrique Leff.
Nuevas estrategias para el desarrollo rural sustentable, by David Barkin.
Interdisciplinariedad y sistemas complejos, by Rolando García.
Hacia una pedagogía de la complejidad para el desarrollo sostenible, by Carlos Galano.
Statement of Thessalonica, UNESCO, 1997.

KEY WORDS: Environmental Education; Sustainable Development; Citizenship Education; Training; Democracy.
REFERENCE: CTERA Training Program Contact: Laura Maffei, Carlos Galano. CTERA. Rivadavia 3623.1204 Buenos Aires, Argentina, E-mail:
AUTHOR: Christian Souchon, c/o Yolanda Ziaka, Polis Network, P.O. Box 4, 84100 Ermoupolis, Greece, Fax: 30 / 281 / 87840, e-mail: