By Kevin Keli Sape
The approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programme have had a seemingly bureaucratic tag hanging around their necks since their conception. This has often alienated them from the very people they are designed to impact. In most cases, they have been neglected to mostly government agencies and organisations committed to actualising these goals.
For ESD to be indeed sustainable and passed down to generations, a new approach is needed. It is essential to actively engage the youth. Use the medium of popular culture (pop culture) to effectively disseminate knowledge, strategies and ideals on sustainable development is a sound way forward
Many of us young people in Ghana see sustainable development and/or the sustainable development goals in their school curricula as just another subject to study for the purpose of passing our examinations. From kindergarten to the university level, we are not actively involved in safeguarding our environment as ambassadors.
But the Eco-Schools initiative in Ghana is steadily building momentum, and getting students involved in the campaign through creative innovations. . Education on sustainable development should be tailored in ways that grasp the attention and participation of young people, rather than topics that will be ignored after our final school exams.
Bright Tetteh Ackwerh, a young satirist, has been seeking answers to societal problems with his art over the past couple of years. He shared his thoughts on the issue of education for sustainable development and the role of the youth: If the future is ours, like they always say, can we at least build it the way we would want it?”Bright wants the older generation to invoke young creatives by making room for new ideas to test obsolete ways that have failed us and create an enabling environment for the youth to participate in key decisions that affect them.
If well exploited, the younger generation – with their proven record of innovation with modern technology - would do exploits and provide solutions for a sustainable future where the SDGs do not only work on paper but also in reality.
Namata Serumaga Musisi is a Ugandan living and working in Ghana. She dabbles in the world of architecture, and is contributing to facilitate positive dialogue by creating physical and virtual spaces in which communities can thrive. Passionate about art, social progress and cohesion in Africa, Namata is of the opinion that the youth need to reclaim the city. She constantly engages them in creative activities to beautify the capital city through initiatives offered by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Ghana (FCA) in Jamestown-Accra. “We can create in them a sense of ownership of their spaces, which would lead to a desire to define the path of sustainable development”,she counsels in what she believes will strengthen ESD.
Pop culture and the youth can be viewed in this respect as implementers of legislations and a support for government agencies and their designated organisation. The outreach potential of pop culture, in terms of engaging the youth in what affects their day to day lives - like environmental issues, gender, equality, and reducing discrimination across Africa – should not be ignored.