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Eleven of the world's foremost learning and scientific organisations have signed a declaration to put sustainable education in the mainstream of school curricula around the world.

The 'Ubuntu Declaration' — signed last week (30 August) in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of World Summit on Sustainable Development — seeks to ensure that sustainable development is integrated into all aspects of education.

"Sustainable development is not a one day tutorial," said Hans von Ginkel, Rector of the United Nations University in Maastricht, the Netherlands. "Integrating sustainable development into the curriculum at all educational levels and sectors is needed to ensure that students from primary to post-secondary are aware of its imperatives and respect its principles and values in their professions and as habits of everyday life."

Walter Erdelen, assistant director-general for natural sciences at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Education (UNESCO) — one of the signatories of the declaration — said that more emphasis must be given to regional and subregional approaches to building capacity in developing countries.

The declaration focuses on the essential role of education in the continued and effective application of science and technology, he said. Due to acute shortages of teachers worldwide, it also underscores the need to strengthen virtual university courses.

Among the organisations that signed the declaration were the Third World Academy of Sciences, the International Council for Science (ICSU), the Science Council of Asia, and the Global Higher Education for Sustainability Partnership (a network of 1,000 universities that have already committed to promoting sustainable development).

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