Exploring ecopedagogy for the attainment of Education For All in Nigeria
Despite the progress so far recorded by the Education For All (EFA) programme in Nigeria, vulnerable children such as students with disabilities, street children, nomadic and semi-nomadic Fulani children, orphans, and the girl-child (particularly in Northern Nigeria) are all yet to qualitatively access and benefit from the programme. In light of this context, this paper, published in the Journal of Education and Practice, explores ecopedagogy as a potential strategy in achieving EFA in Nigeria. In doing so, the paper critically reviews EFA initiatives in Nigeria with regard to various educational issues.
The paper introduces and outlines the concept of ecopedagogy to illustrate how and why such an approach is needed. Historically, ecopedagogy began in a Latin American educational context, specifically as an outgrowth of developments in critical pedagogy, a body of educational ideas and practices influenced by the philosopher Paulo Freire. Its mission is to develop a robust appreciation for the collective potentials of being human, and to foster social justice throughout the world from a whole-system perspective. The author concludes that this makes ecopedagogy a highly suitable framework to use in attempting to achieve the ambitious yet daunting cross-cutting aspirations of the Millennium Development Goals, due to its being focused on popular education, post-issue activism, planetary citizenship, art education, care, anti-oppression, and transformative change, as well as being “unabashedly” utopian.
The paper concludes by recommending the ecopedagogical approach for the attainment of EFA, and the MDG goals, in Nigeria, specifically regarding the need to:
Re-educate citizens to care for, respect and take action for all lives; when effectively utilised, ecopedagogy addresses and responds to the diversity of needs of all learners, thus reducing exclusion of the vulnerable and margianlised from and within education.
Facilitate learning environments where educators and learners can embrace and welcome the challenges and benefits of diversity. With ecopedagogy, educators must welcome all students equally, challenging discriminatory gender and cultural norms.
Opening access to education for all, i.e the need to catch students from early childhood by ensuring 100% enrollment in all basic levels of education, and ensuring the adaptation of educational contents to local environmental needs.
Build up environmentally friendly classrooms that are accessible to all, regardless of disabilities, and a need to open up access for all in tertiary education based on abilities and potentialities.
Encourage a synergy of policy makers, NGOs, international agencies, and civil society as partners in progressing towards inclusive learning in Nigeria.