Education for sustainable development in Africa: a critique of regional agendas

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Education is often perceived in policy agendas as playing a transformative role in realising sustainable development and the SDGs on the continent. The assumption is based, however, on an insufficiently critical understanding of the historical role of education in supporting unsustainable development. The article provides a critical account of the relationship between education policy and sustainable development in Africa as an aspect of the postcolonial condition, i.e. as an aspect of the colonial legacy and of Africa’s position in relation to contemporary processes of globalisation. It is argued that if education is to play a transformative role in relation to sustainable development then education policy needs to be fundamentally reoriented and harnessed to wider processes of economic, cultural and political transformation in the interests of social and environmental justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages15
JournalAsia Pacific Education Review
Issue number2
Early online date18 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Structured keywords

  • SoE Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education
  • SoE Centre for Higher Education Transformations
  • SoE Educational Futures Network


  • Sustainable development
  • Education for sustainable development
  • Africa
  • Postcolonial condition


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