Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, will from 8 to 10 August host the Eight African Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE) conference.
The conference pools together experts from diverse institutions who promote education for sustainable development (ESD) with the agenda to help solve environmental challenges affecting education development on the continent.
ESD is an umbrella for many forms of formal and informal education that already exist and new ones that are being developed through innovation and entrepreneurship.
The concept requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take actions for sustainable development consequently, promoting competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.
According to Marlene Chikuni, coordinator of RCE-Zomba, who is also deputy head of Biological Sciences in the Faculty of Science at Chancellor College the gathering is crucial as it is a learning space for multi-disciplinary stakeholders who are passionate about finding solutions to local environmental challenges.
“This meeting is one way of remaining focused on the path to achieving sustainability through partnerships as per United Nations [UN] aspirations. The UN encourages countries to integrate ESD into all forms of their education systems and all levels from primary to tertiary including vocational and adult learning,” she said.
RCE-Zomba is one of 32 centres of expertise in Africa chaired by Environmental Affairs Department whose secretariat is Chancellor College and Leadership for Environment and Development (Lead-SEA).
Chikuni said high on the list of discussions will be issues to do with sustainable environmental management and recently emerging challenges brought by climate change.
“The gathering provides an opportunity to look at Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and interpret them for easy understanding at local level. It addresses the participation of local Malawians to find local solutions for challenges they are experiencing in their localities.
“It also looks further into the roles of different organisations working in the sector of environment and how they are addressing challenges facing Malawians,” Chikuni said.
According to Environmental Affairs Department officials, through their flagship ESD projects, RCEs in Africa are opening new opportunities for collaboration linking action across multiple scales both at local, regional and global level. The projects are also facilitating rapid transfer learning and efficient knowledge transfer.
The forthcoming conference will discuss issues related to climate change, governance, accountability and transparency, biodiversity conservation, traditional knowledge systems, higher education, community engagement, skills acquisition, youth and disaster risk reduction.
It is hoped that interactions with the private sector, academia, media, NGO, local organisations and government departments will highlight ESD approaches being pursued in Malawi and beyond thereby learning from one another.