Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) projects of UNESCO can be regarded as yet another rhetoric that have been parallel with the development goals of UNDP (from MDGs to SDGs, and maybe further, if the hypothetical doom of 2030 spares the humankind). While educational approaches have been regarded as key instruments for achieving the global utopia, educational institutions in the global South have been failing to consolidate the generation, that actually has the potential synergy. Apparently, the danger of strong (and growing) polarisation between privileged- and marginalised youth has been always been overlooked because of the glossy fronts of perpetual collaboration between the privileged class and the International NGOs.
The game has been straightforward for International NGOs. They are not required to cover the overwhelming population, for their products to sell. What they need is comfort in producing the successful reports with some super-achieved outcomes. For instance, not many executive figures of such INGOs have deep concerns over deepening polarisation among Nepalese youth. Poor, mostly rural and disadvantaged in terms of quality and quantity of essential services have been at extreme distance (in terms of collaboration) from the mostly urban youth from affluent families.
Urban schools, affluent parents and ease of communication in English language are such characteristics of such privileged youth, that help to maintain quality of glossy productions of successful (I)NGOs’ projects in youth – English language, urban environment, art, education or whatsoever.
Deep ecologists, or let’s say critical theorists might certainly be against such bubbles of symbiosis between privileged Southern recipients and ignorant resellers of Northern savior’s (so called) objectives. It is also convenient that the mostly westernising, urban youth are easy to be brainwashed with Western ideals and standards; so that the productions in projects can be compatible to the demand of project owners with some head offices located across the Atlantic or the Mediterranean. Otherwise, the Other (yes, Edward Said’s ‘Other’) group could already pose opposition right from the ideological loci. A class in the UK could be finding trouble to co-learn ‘Black History Month’ in October without understanding the situation of rural Nepal where almost all students could be busy in harvesting plantations for the year. The teachers could not be easy to be in touch, when needed. Difficulty in communicating in English, should be another con.
While writing this, I must agree that mostly urban, private schools of Nepal have been evidently regarded as factories to produce raw materials for supplying semi-skilled and skilled manpower to the Western world. Since, the western world has been relatively viewed as superior, civilised and distant; the school community of public schools (and their unlikely collaborators) could have internalised that their schooling efforts could not be compatible for Western education projects to be launched. Such mindset is enough for maintaining divide between these groups of youth-students.
More alarming is that nothing has been attempted to consolidate the youth in same country; crossing the divide of urban-rural, affluent-poor, marginalised-advantaged, failing school-successful school; for moving together towards the frontiers of sustainability fronts.