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General principles

Building capacity for participation and development

The education service portfolio of the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) operates on the principles of education for sustainable development (ESD) with the goal of pursuing a political education that promotes involvement and participation.

ESD as a form of political education promotes communication skills, fundamental knowledge and creative and critical thinking. It aims to achieve a willingness among learners to take on responsibility for their own actions, to handle uncertainties and contradictions, solve problems and actively get involved in a democratic and culturally diverse society. It creates room for experimenting with and developing sustainable development solutions and societal innovations.

The BMU thus also sees its portfolio of educational materials and activities as a contribution to the goal set out in the German Sustainable Development Strategy of increasing our children's opportunities for education and participation. In keeping with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, social justice, cultural diversity and gender equality issues also play a key role.

Political education is a condition for and a component of a comprehensive culture of learning and knowledge in diverse societies. It provides leaners with the skills necessary for active, informed participation in the societal changes and transformation processes towards a sustainable, just society in accordance with the Federal Environment Ministry's Integrated Environmental Programme 2030:

"In line with ESD, the BMU will work to ensure that the knowledge and skills for shaping social changes are a part of education in schools, outside of schools and in vocational education."

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Principles and criteria

The BMU educational offers are based consistently on the principles of education for sustainable development (ESD). In line with political education, the opposing views principle and ban on helming discussion partners are also applied.

These principles are equally applicable to studies, research projects, materials and BMU supported education projects.

On the basis of these principles, the BMU educational portfolio fulfils the following criteria: 

  • The offers aim to cultivate development competencies in line with ESD. They create room for unbiased experimentation and utilise stimulating methods.
  • A holistic approach to the ESD concept is applied in terms of both the content taught and learning locations.
  • In keeping with the opposing views principle, a range of different societal positions are incorporated into the portfolio of offers.
  • In keeping with the opposing views principle, the portfolio of offers is geared towards enabling learners to form their own opinions without prescribed evaluations that obstruct alternative approaches to a topic.
  • The offers focus on social equity, inclusion and gender equality.
  • Gender-sensitive language, didactics and methods are used.
  • The offers reflect the diversity in our society and avoid selection and privileging.
  • The offers are geared to specific target groups and use a tailor-made and authentic approach.
  • All offers use a participative approach. Children and young people know their interests better than anyone else and are thus involved in developing concepts and have a say in the topics and methods used.
  • Peer learning plays an important role.
  • Educational materials are made available as open educational resources (OERs) under open licenses as defined by UNESCO. This means that the contents of these resources may be used and distributed for educational purposes free of charge.
  • Targeted digital educational resources support a more individualised learning that is independent of location. These resources meet the ESD criteria, are based on didactic teaching and learning concepts and continuously establish links to the real world of learning in the classroom. Media expertise as the skill to appropriately use and evaluate media and their content are a key component of these resources.

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Last update: 19.06.2017