1 April 2019

Alexei du Bois, Programme Director at Routes to Resilience

I am a passionate educator, environmental education and sustainability activist and education inequality researcher. Born in Canada and raised in Cape Town, South Africa, I spent much of my time at school and university volunteering with a range of NGO projects in informal settlements across the Greater Cape Town area.

After reading for a degree in English, History and Music at the University of Cape Town, I worked as an English and History teacher whilst running a school community project in Khayelitsha. This became my true passion and I ended up applying for funding and admission to read for a Masters degree at the University of Oxford where I hoped to learn more about the efficacy of school partnership models as well as ground myself in the academic literature on school quality and improvement.

What started as a journey focusing on township schools led me to exciting research and work in the sustainability and environmental education space and to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This set of ambitious, inspirational and agenda defining goals inspired me to apply for funding to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford that explored how Southern African schools are responding to this global call to action in terms of curricula, teaching and infrastructure. My fieldwork took me to schools in all nine provinces and was in equal parts inspirational and challenging. It cemented my fundamental belief that a sustainability approach to policy and pedagogy will transform educational outcomes for all.

It cemented my fundamental belief that a sustainability approach to policy and pedagogy will transform educational outcomes for all.

I find working with young people inspiring. Their passion and enthusiasm for pursuing new ideas and approaches is infectious and should form the basis for the innovative solutions required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. My work at Routes to Resilience, as well as my ongoing work as an educator, is always geared towards supporting young people to gain a deeper grounding in sustainability thinking and an appreciation for the complex solutions required to address the global challenges we all face.

Alexei facilitating a session with learners during an Adventurous Journey at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

Another passion of mine is working with educators and school leaders to support and develop their capacity to incorporate sustainability principles in their teaching, particularly in light of the imposed demands and limitations of a specified curriculum framework. Many educators feel that nothing will really change unless the narrow examination system that most schools operate under changes. I find it exciting to see how educators who are equipped to teach their subjects through a sustainability lens are able to learn with their students and prepare them for the complex and systemic challenges they will face after school.

I find it exciting to see how educators who are equipped to teach their subjects through a sustainability lens are able to learn with their students and prepare them for the complex and systemic challenges they will face after school.

This work is what drew me to my current role at Routes to Resilience where I am privileged enough to work with young people and educators across the world on developing sustainability competencies and skills, as well as a shared commitment to an alternative route for education that is just, future-focused and equitable.

Alexei is an energetic and visionary educator and, as a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Oxford, is completing a PhD in Education for Sustainable Development practices. He has headed up Youth Programmes at Routes to Resilience since 2017 and landed back in South Africa on March 25th to step into the role of Programme Director. Alexei will be leading Routes to Resilience’s youth and educator initiatives in South Africa while maintaining his global programme engagement.

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