Bringing Sustainable Development Skills to Early Childhood Learning



The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all”. To achieve the 17 goals established in 2015 by the United Nations, we need to educate and engage the next generations to be part of the change and this is a fundamental process that should start from an early age. In most nations, there have been several efforts to adapt the secondary and tertiary education curriculums to meet the requirements for achieving the SDGs in 2030, however Early Childhood Development (ECD) hasn’t been considered enough.


Educations is the cornerstone of a sustainable world.Sustainable Development 1


The SDG4 stands for ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Through education, we can shape global citizens and like-minded individuals with the skills needed for thinking advocating, and taking action toward a more sustainable world.


Free and inclusive education for all facilitates the access to better opportunities in life including improved health, broaden job chances, community involvement, and socioeconomic thrive.  Furthermore, educated populations can involve their selves in topics related to a sustainable economy, renewable energy, environment care, healthy ecosystems, gender equality, and the end of poverty.


Sustainable Development 2Early Childhood Development is where education starts


Early Childhood Development (ECD) is where the person first learns to interact with the world around, a positive education at this stage should include the successful development of social and emotional skills. According to UNESCO, “Early childhood care and education (ECCE) is more than preparation for primary school. It aims at the holistic development of a child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical needs in order to build a solid and broad foundation for lifelong learning and wellbeing. ECCE has the possibility to nurture caring, capable, and responsible future citizens.”


Sustainable Development 3How can we include SDGs in ECD education?

After understanding that acquiring knowledge about the SDGs should be from an early age, we need to explore ways to ensure SDGs principles are applied from early childhood education. Here two suggested alternatives:


  • Developing an ECD curriculum that includes SDGs content – ECD centers should integrate into their learning content the Sustainable Development Goals principles such as sustainable development, human rights, and gender equality. UNESCO offers a wide range of pedagogical ideas and resources for educators and parents have a look at them here.


  • Support literacy and education programs for children out of school- despite the progress on education access, there were in 2017, over 262 million children and youth out of school. By supporting organizations like the World Literacy Foundation, we are facilitating more children could have access to educational resources and services, especially those leaving in remote communities where education is limited.

Written by: Lesedi Senamele Matlala