ESD and GCED in national curriculum frameworks

19 May 2017


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Sustainable development seems to be prevalent in both National Curriculum Frameworks and Education Sector Plans worldwide, while only 42% of evaluated countries refer to the notion of ‘global identity/citizenship’.


A study entitled “Global Monitoring of Target 4.7: Themes in National Curriculum”, commissioned by the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) team and carried out by the International Bureau of Education (IBE), as the first comprehensive analysis of curriculum to contribute to the global monitoring of Target 4.7.

For this study, a coding scheme was developed and applied, based on key ESD and GCED knowledge, skills, behaviours, and pedagogies, to find out to what extent ESD and GCED content is present in National Curriculum Frameworks (NCFs) and Education Sector Plans (ESPs) around the world. A total of 108 NCFs and ESPs from 78 countries for general basic education (primary and lower secondary), and 48 social studies curricula from 25 countries (encompassing also 3 Canadian provinces and 4 states in the USA) were evaluated.

The main findings of the report provide a clear picture of the prevalence of content and themes related to Target 4.7 in formal education, and reveal some regional trends, as well as content related to SDG 4.7 that could be strengthened.

The analysis reveals that sustainable development seems to be prevalent in the NCFs and ESPs evaluated,90% of the countries refer to at least one of the terms related to this category, with sustainable development being the most frequently used key term and climate change one of the least used (73% and 36% respectively).

The analysis of terms related to Interconnectedness and Global Citizenship revealed that 92% of the countries refer to national identity/citizenship in their curricula, whilst only 42% refer to the term global identity/citizenship, with Australia, Bhutan, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nepal, Serbia, Canada/Ontario, and the USA/New York, being the most “global-looking” countries.


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Percentages for sample countries that included one of the key terms related to interconnectedness and Global Citizenship in their National Curriculum Frameworks, 2005-2015

The paper concludes with a set of recommendations that focuses on ways to move forward in monitoring ESD and GCED effectively, at the curricular level and beyond.

As the world moves forward on the implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda, UNESCO is committed to monitoring the progress towards the achievement of Target 4.7, with a focus on Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship. Regular reports, news, analyses, publications and links to data sets produced by UNESCO and its partners provide evidence that indicate how the world is progressing towards the achievement of the Target.


More information

Download the full report here: “In Progress Reflection”