Education for Sustainable Development in Africa 

Today, the world is home to the largest generation of youth in human history, with 1.8 billion worldwide according to a recent United Nations World Youth Report. With nearly 90 percent of the global youth living in developing countries, nearly one billion in Asia and Africa, the success of any global or national intervention is unequivocally dependent on the skills, creativity, and competencies of the younger generation. Equipping young people with the right 21st-century competencies has become critical now more than ever.


The World Bank’s metric of “learning poverty,” which speaks to children who cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10, now stands at a staggering 80 percent in most low-income countries. The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating this ‘learning pandemic’. According to a recent report by the UN Secretary-General, as many as 94 percent of children across the world have been out of school due to COVID-induced closures. The worst case is that learning losses from school shutdowns are further compounded by inequities, especially for students who were already left behind by education systems in Africa

What WWF Is Doing 
February, 2021
''Our City 2030'' - a project of WWF and Plan International is working with high school youth to re-imagine a future they aspire for. In picture: Pupils presenting a model of a new green Kampala city they wish to see at a youth co-creation workshop convened by WWF-Uganda and Plan International Uganda. Photo credit: WWF Uganda

As countries rebuild and reinvent themselves in response to COVID-19, there is an opportunity to accelerate the thinking on how to best support quality education for all. There is an urgent need for young people to be involved in sustainable development because the generations who are young today will experience more significant climate change impacts. It's for this very reason that WWF has been instrumental in promoting education for sustainable development (ESD).

In Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia, WWF is working in partnership with Plan International and the local authorities to integrating critical issues, such as climate change, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction (DRR), and sustainable consumption and production (SCP), into the primary and secondary school curriculum. This is implemented under ''Our City 2030: Youth Visions and Solutions'' project. 

The photo above shows leaners in Zambia assembling a Beehive to increase honey production. WWF has been supporting teachers with the right tools to aid in stimulating learning and to promote core competencies for learners; such as critical and systemic thinking, collaborative decision-making, and taking responsibility for the present and future generations. Photo: WWF Zambia
In Cameroon, WWF has supported the mainstreaming of education for sustainable development in the school curriculum in addition to transforming learning environments. The schools have become exemplary centers of learning for sustainability dubbed ESD Model Schools. ''Our intention is to ensure that the fellow teachers, students, and their parents develop sustainable lifestyles that support conservation within and beyond the village of Nsoung'', shared Tchonang, one of the teachers trained in ESD teaching pedagogies by WWF in Cameroon.
A learner in Cameroon is seen seated on an artificial pond created by pupils to illustrate the African continent and the risks posed by rising sea levels. Photo: WWF Cameroon


The project has also supported the pioneering of youth councils to strengthen youth participation in climate change decision-making processes at the municipal level. Through the climate councils, learners are being empowered to be global citizens who engage and assume active roles in facing and resolving global challenges and ultimately becoming proactive contributors to creating a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure, and sustainable world. At the moment, the learners are now taking an active role in raising awareness of the COVID-19 in their villages and helping people to understand the salient relationship between nature and public health.

WWF Zambia and Plan International recently donated hygiene hampers to supplement the efforts of youth climate council member schools in the fight against COVID-19.


This week, over 120 staff from 50 WWF offices participated in the WWF Education Summit themed: WWF Education 2020+ - The Role of Education in Building a Sustainable Planet. The objective of the summit is to sensitize, inspire and motivate all participants towards WWF Global Education and make education a clear contribution to WWF's global goals.

WWF has always believed that young people bring new ideas and radical ambition which are required to develop nature-based-solutions and implement them at scale. When empowered with the right 21st-century competencies, young people can build climate resilience and adaptive capacity in their communities even though they are among the most vulnerable population to be disproportionately affected by climate change.


Contributors: Alice Ruhweza, Brighton Kaoma,  Bornface Katite, Andrew Ekpe, James Kakeeto, and Zipporah Musyoki. 



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