Mari Ugland Andresen
ENSI Executive Committee
Norwegian Centre for Science Education
Postboks 1099 Blindern
National ENSI work
Norway has participated in the project "Environment and School Initiatives" (ENSI) since its start in 1986. Early work in ENSI phase I and II focused on school environmental projects and school development through formulation of local teaching plans. Evaluations and exchange of experience indicated that although these results were commendable, development was often limited to pilot schools. It became clear that schools needed substantial scientific and methodological support for their innovative work to develop interdisciplinary, action-oriented ESD.
One challenge was to develop a national framework to support ESD including teacher training, curriculum, intersectoral co-operation and users for information produced by schools. The next challenge was to actually implement education that gave the desired learning results. Using the opportunities offered by ICT, an Environmental Education network (EEN) was developed in Norway to support widespread and sustainable integration of ESD in schools (mainstreaming) through communication in the network and interactive competence-building.
In 1997 the education ministry decided that the Norwegian contribution to Phase 3 of ENSI would be to further develop the concept of the EEN. Specific goals of ENSI 3 in Norway were to improve the Norwegian strategy for environment and development in the educational system, to learn by comparing Norwegian environmental education practice to that of other countries, to clarify barriers to achieving environmental education in accordance with the United Nations goals, and to develop models for competence-building in environmental education.
The EEN offers schools a set of concrete sustainable development activities. Schools enter their research results and reports into national databases that are available to be used by others. Schools receive support from researchers via e-mail, telephone and web pages. In-service training is provided by the municipal authorities. Central premises for activities in the network are that:
- educational work in schools is a resource for local environmental protection work
- local environmental protection work is a learning arena for the school
- environmental education based on concrete tasks for local environmental protection (for example Local Agenda 21 work) has the potential to change organisation forms and working methods in the school.
The project “Partnership and Participation for a Sustainable Tomorrow” (SUPPORT) was developed in 2006 and 2007 by members of the ENSI consortium and others, drawing heavily on experiences from the ENSI network. The project has sought funding through the EU Lifelong Learning Comenius Network programme and will be coordinated by the Norwegian Directorate of Education and Training. SUPPORT will facilitate cooperation between schools and actors outside of schools to implement ESD, including further development of an English version of the network (see www.sustain.no), international exchange of experience in workshops and conference and publication of results.