A National Census of Sustainability in K-12 Education Policy: Implications for International Monitoring, Evaluation, and Research
Keywords:sustainability education, education for sustainable development, environmental education, climate change education, Sustainable Development Goals, education policy, whole institution approach, eco schools, monitoring, evaluation
This paper reports on the first nationwide census examining sustainability uptake in policy initiatives in Canadian K-12 education. Included in the study are each of Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial ministries of education, and all 374 public school divisions across the country. Sustainability was defined as including, at minimum, consideration of environmental issues, with the study also encompassing use of other related terminologies. Data were collected on three types of policy initiatives: (a) the existence of sustainability-specific policy, (b) participation in sustainability certification programs, and (c) the existence of sustainability staff, which were examined in relation to a range of geographic and institutional variables. Sustainability-specific policy was examined across five domains of a whole institution approach to sustainability: governance, curriculum, facilities and operations, research, and community outreach. We found that 54% of ministries of education and 59% of school divisions in Canada had sustainability-specific policy, most commonly in the curriculum domain at the ministry level and in the operations domain at the school division level. In addition, 43% of school divisions had participated in a sustainability certification program, and 25% had sustainability staff. We discuss implications for policy making in Canada as well for intergovernmental UN policy programs, in particular regarding new policy development and monitoring and evaluation efforts.
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