With identifying and harnessing the knowledge-action systems among different actors within it as one of the expected roles of a UN-designated Regional Center of Expertise, RCE, a study was carried out in the Greater Sendai Area RCE (GSARCE) using survey questionnaires to determine whether the level of concern and knowledge of environmental sustainability (ES) issues and terminology by respondents reflect ES discussion within the subjects and the frequency of occurrence in the school curriculum. The research also sought to identify the obstacles facing teachers regarding flexibility in reorienting the content of the school curriculum towards education for sustainable development ESD. 501 respondents comprising 408 students and 102 teachers were sampled from fifteen schools within GSARCE in the Tohoku region of Japan. Environmental concern was the most prominent among several sustainability issues facing Japan. Environmental issues that directly affected respondents economically, their health or ‘sense of place’ were the primary environmental concerns. Though ESD was considered to be the most important for pollution prevention, the respondents generally lacked knowledge of ES issues and terminology considered in the study against the background of a highly literate society. This lack of knowledge was partly attributed to the little discussion of ES issues and the low occurrence of ES terminology in the school curriculum, the failure of the media to provide adequate sustainability-related information, SRI and the low frequency of access of SRI by the respondents. Preference for activities considered as effective in implementing ESD in schools was generally similar for both groups except two. Some impediments regarding reorienting the school curriculum towards ESD were identified. The present marginalization of ESD in schools therefore calls for policy changes including ESD ownership, increased ES in media content, the role of tertiary institutions, emphasis on the importance of all subjects and the preparation of teachers for the role of ES educators.
|Keywords:||Environmental Sustainability, Education, Knowledge, Concern, Regional Center of Expertise, RCE|
Instructor and Part-Time Researcher, School Management Section, Miyagi Zao Board of Education, Kakuda, Miyagi, Japan
Principal Lecturer, Faculty of Sciences, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
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