Tag: Sustainable Development

YouthINK – Day 3

A daily conference bulletin by the youth reporters

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

At official opening of UNESCO Week, experts underscore crucial role of women and youth

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova officially opened the UNESCO Week for Peace and Sustainable Development: The Role of Education in Ottawa, Canada on 8 March together with Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada, and Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, Government of Ontario.

“We need new forms of education that promotes understanding between cultures, that strengthens the resilience of societies and provides the relevant skills to navigate the future,” said Ms Bokova, emphasizing the need to promote human rights, dignity, diversity and inclusion. Bringing in the importance of youth, Minister McKenna highlighted that “Young people are already leading; we need to listen to them. They not only care but also have more ambitious ideas that ever before for a more sustainable future.” Focusing on those who are on the frontlines in the classroom, Fred van Leeuwen, Secretary-General of Education International said: “Teachers create bonds within groups and build bridges across groups and communities. It is clear that efforts to improve teaching and learning will not succeed unless we trust, value and support teachers. We see this Conference as a clear token of UNESCO to support the teaching profession worldwide”. ” Since the opening also coincided with International Women’s Day, the leaders reiterated the need to “leave no woman behind” on the path to a sustainable world.

Youth lead from the front in intergenerational dialogue on role of teachers in ESD; discuss impact of technology, training and support of policymakers

At the opening of the UNESCO Week, youth delegates and policymakers joined forces for UNESCO MGIEP’s Talking Across Generations on Education to discuss the role of teachers in ESD


To say that it was a power-packed gathering for UNESCO MGIEP’s Talking Across Generations on Wednesday morning would be an understatement. The carefully chosen TAGe delegates who took the stage to discuss the Youth Perspectives on the Role of Teachers in Education for Peace and Sustainable development brought to the discussion not only a wealth of experience but also regional and professional diversity. The youth delegates came from 35 different nations and had been selected by UNESCO MGIEP via a rigorous application process that included participating in four weeks of online discussions.

Engaging in a dialogue with the youth were 15 distinguished experts cutting across academic, professional and regional expertise. Among them were Director General UNESCO Irina Bokova, Minister of Education Ontario, provincial parliament Mitzie Hunter, Special Adviser for Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, Dessima Williams, UNESCO chair on GCED Dr Carlos Alberto Torres and other highly-established experts. The session got off to an inspirational start with UNESCO MGIEP’s first ever YESPeace champion and singer Emmanuel Kelly moving the audience with his story.

The dialogue began with moderators Paul Darvasi and Danika Littlechild posing the question regarding what a 21st-century teacher should look like. The responses from the experts and the youth drove home the realisation that teachers of today need to be superheroes to keep up with the changing needs of the students and the increased access to information.The experts brought in the question of support received by the teachers from other stakeholders including policymakers and the governments.

“For creating peace and sustainable development, dialogues such as the TAGe are essential,” said Irina Bokova, DG UNESCO. This point was further highlighted by the H.E. Mr Choong-hee Hahn

Untitled2Ambassador, Permanent Delegation to UNESCO Korea, who reiterated that “Empathy and compassion are needed to create peaceful and sustainable societies.”

When touching upon the impact of technology on the role of the teachers, youth delegate Sandiso Sibisi from South Africa argued that in many regions the internet has not permeated to the extent of that in the Western world. The rich dialogue also touched upon the issues of teacher training, focus on assessment of students and new pedagogies.

The session ended on a high with Emmanuel Kelly once again taking the stage and sang a rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine.

Irina Bokova, Director General UNESCO joins the youth to launch World Rescue—MGIEP’s innovative mobile-based game on SDGs

Untitled3The UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development today released World Rescue-a mobile-based game inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The game was officially released by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO and Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP.

The research-based video game, takes the players across Kenya, Norway, Brazil, India, and China where they take on the roles of five young heroes to solve global problems—such as displacement, disease, deforestation, drought, and pollution—at the community level to achieve a more sustainable world.

“Digital games offer a double dividend: First, they offer a platform whereby learners can make mistakes as they learn concepts of peace and sustainable development; and second children actually have fun while learning,” said Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP at the launch.

World Rescue has been designed and developed by Pixel Perfect, a game development company based in Hungary that won UNESCO MGIEP’s first-ever International Gaming Challenge in 2015. The storyline of the game has been curated by Literary Safari. World Rescue is available for download free of cost on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store and has already been downloaded approximately 2000 times.

YESPeace Workshop: Mobilising youth and teachers to transform education for peace and sustainable development

Untitled4After an exciting morning where the youth engaged in a rich dialogue during Talking Across Generations on Education (TAGe) on the role of teachers in ESD, the MGIEP youth delegates came together in full force for theYesPeace workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to provide a platform for young people working in the area of formal, non-formal and informal education to share their work in the areas of peace, sustainable development and global citizenship and draw upon the discussions on the role of teachers.

The format of the session was designed to drive an action-oriented and participatory approach involving group work.

The youth were divided in projects and created projects as well as Action Plans to enhance teacher and youth synergies (of people and practitioners).Untitled5

Interview with Emmanuel Kelly
UNESCO MGIEP’s first-ever YESPeace Champion


Q) Do you think that being a YESPeace champion will now put a lot more pressure on you or will it only empower you further to inspire?

It definitely is a great responsibility, but one that I am fortunate to be in a position to be given. I am honoured to be part of this campaign and hope to inspire and aspire to create and help achieve qualities of peace, sustainable development and above all, love. I actually feel more free to be who I am.

Q) What do you think are the common challenges that youth face today regardless of where they are and what they are doing?

The biggest problem I see is that there is a lack of a role models to aspire to be and at the same time lack of inspiration. I think that the only solution for this is that we should all aspire to be ourselves and be inspired by someone who always changes you for the better. In my case, i am lucky to have my mum and brother who have inspired me each step of the way in my journey to where I am today. They have had a tremendous impact on my life and I am so grateful to have had that.

Q) Do you think education has an important role to play in changing the mindsets?

I think that not only education, but the kind of education is important. Education systems are not teaching the students to be socially conscious.

The teachers need to realise that the skills that are needed today are not the skills that were needed ten years ago. They need to listen to the students.

Q) How would you explain the phenomenon of many educated youth from across the globe getting radicalised?

I strongly feel that entertainment industry is responsible to a large extent for creating unrealistic images in the minds of the young people of today. It also sends out wrong messages through what it thinks is entertaining; such as violence is alright. However, a larger problem is that children don’t have any immediate role models to turn to within their families. They turn to teachers for guidance and when they don’t get that kind of support from there too, the children are really lost and easily attracted to extremist ideologies.

Q) Do you think music can play an important role in closing the gaps that you just identified?

There is no doubt about this; music plays an important role in unifying people from across regions and cutting across ideologies. An example of this can be seen in Israel, where the biggest band is from Palestine and in Palestine where the biggest band is from Israel. Music has always been able to offer a beacon of hope and it does it in a way that is subtle. The lure of music is always fun and attractive but at the same time it has immense healing powers too.

Twitter highlights of the day

Impact on twitter: #tage and #UNESCOweekEd

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Sessions for Day 4 (9 March,  2017)

Innovative pedagogies for ESD and GCED: Is game-based learning the future?


Community mapping to develop GCED skills


One world one compassion


Youth reporter
Radhika Bhatnagar


Interpersonal conflict and education

This is the first in a series of blogs by the winners of our #spaceforpeace twitter campaign on Interpersonal conflict.
By Dr. Sergio Costa

Interpersonal conflict is the consequence of one’s inability to relate to others and may involve some personal stake. The stakes could range from self-preservation of mind or body to losing or acquiring resources and land in the instance of war. Some conflicts are based on real threats. Some are not. Parsing out the real from the unreal is a challenge spanning generations. People misunderstand and misperceive all the time.

Education plays a key role in developing the person to be a discerning, scrutinizing and well-meaning participant in the space of human interaction. Education, of course, encompasses different things. In many societies, interpersonal skills  – people skills, cultural competence, knowledge of different societies – is often lacking. Skills focusing on the areas of mathematics and science in their various applications are often perceived as more important that the humanities and arts. Societies fail to produce well-rounded individuals if we skew preferences to certain careers and domains, particularly when they are so lucrative, at the expense of others.

The focus must be on the whole person. Cultural works, novels that illustrate different societies, cultural norms, societal problems illustrated through creative works, perspectives on globalization and international political economy (what could benefit you may be a cost to someone else), expression of ideas through sound and imagery: all these are effective means to relate to others. Knowing the other greatly depends on knowing oneself, being aware of the dynamics of interpersonal exchange. Self-awareness enables us to act responsibly and nobly.


People want to be validated and respected. The skills required to do this are listening well (speaking prematurely and without invitation or expectation impedes that) and establishing trust through open dialogue and respect. If there is no intention to truly seek out the reasons for each other’s positions (perceiving the threats through the eyes of the other) then there is little hope that conflict can be overcome. While we can never truly know someone else, we can appreciate through experience and expression to the greatest extent possible what others feel and mean. While one individual can never know the cumulative effect of systematic marginalization over the course of a lifetime, we have the power of words and our willingness to listen and to honor the experience and suffering of someone else. We can validate the other by confirming what is heard and repeating it back for reciprocal validation. It’s an iterative exercise of give and take in order to come to a mutual understanding – very much like a dance.


While pervasive today, the absence of interpersonal skills is not without hope. Yes, parents and employers may compound the problem by not teaching and exhibiting interpersonal skills to their children, employees and others.  Curricula, strategic plans, and policy actions may completely overlook respect and appreciation for others. But, interpersonal skills can be learned at anytime. Overcoming interpersonal conflict at the global level will require the participation of many sectors, leaders, the public, decision makers, and policy makers and likely more. One way we can accomplish the goal of reducing interpersonal conflict is spreading the message: the call to listen, respect, and validate others. We can do that with those we know in our own orbits.


Human beings often fall victim to hurtful and pointless dichotomies. The “us “ versus “them” mentality often shows as at our worst. For example, one’s sports team can do no wrong; the opponent is always wrong. We need to be aware of our own psychology including our tendency for confirmation bias (we look for information that validates our biases, positions regardless of merit) and resilience to cognitive dissonance (discomfort with facing cracks in what we perceived as truth). But more than this, we as human beings should foster curiosity in the other and nurture humility through recognizing that we are not alone on this planet. Everyone is a story that is worth the time to listen to, respect, and understand.

About the author: 

Dr. Sergio Costa is a lecturer at the Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy at the City University of New York. He directs the innovative pedagogical online initiatives for the school. Dr. Costa has a PhD in political science from Boston University and a Master of Science in Education degree. He worked for Pearson Education in the area of e-learning and higher education academic support for students at all levels. From 2010-2014, Dr. Costa was the Director of Distance Learning for the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He is interested in the intersection of public health and education, intercultural dialogue, and international development. He is published in the areas of public health education and policy.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNESCO MGIEP.

Reviewing the Current State of Education for Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Asia and the Pacific

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have formally been adopted by the United Nations, setting the world’s development agenda for the next 15 years. Target 4.7 of the SDGs is an acknowledgment of the critical importance of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and other transformational education movements for a sustainable and peaceful future for all: “by 2030 ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development” .

However, it has been observed that despite numerous endorsements and declarations on integrating education for peace, human rights, sustainable development and global citizenship in education systems in countries around the world, there has been limited systematic review of how much progress has been made in integrating/embedding them in education policy, curriculum, teaching and learning processes and assessment.

Furthermore, given that the proposed global indicator for SDG Target 4.7 is the “extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in (a) national education policies (b) curricula (c) teacher education and (d) student assessment”, it is especially pertinent to assess the extent to which GCED and ESD are embedded in these aspects to establish a baseline against which progress towards achieving this target can be monitored in Asia and the Pacific over the next 15 years.

UNESCO MGIEP and the other implementing agencies of UNESCO Bangkok – Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and UNESCO Cluster, National and Project Offices in Asia and the Pacific, are undertaking this project with an aim to review the extent to which GCED and ESD are mainstreamed in national policies and curricula in 20 countries in Asia and the Pacific, with a particular focus on core subjects (mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies) at primary and secondary school levels.

For the federal states (eg. India), data sources (eg. policy and curricular documents) may be collected at sub-national level as well.  Among the four areas included in the proposed global indicator of SDG 4.7, this project will focus on policies and curricula. Where possible, textbooks may be examined as well. The state of GCED and ESD in teacher education and student assessment will be examined by other related projects.

A workshop reviewing the current state of Education for Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Asia and the Pacific will be held at UNESCO MGIEP on 30th-31st May.

Fetishising the global citizen in times of great unrest and uncertainty

“That which renders it a fetish is nothing intrinsic to the thing itself.”  (Fritz Schultz, a 19th century philosopher)

“…A fetish begins instantly to writhe within the object, to take it over, until we behave as though the object dropped from heaven….” (Leah Hager Cohn, a contemporary author and novelist)

Jill Koyama, PhD.,
University of Arizona

The notion of the global citizen, which I critique in my recent paper, “The Exclusive and Exclusive Global Citizen,” is but a poor substitute—a swap of sorts—for real people living in and attending to a myriad of disparate environments, conditions, and situations.  As an idealized resident and steward of the world, a global citizen is one who values universal rights, contributes to the world community, fights against social injustices, and holds his (less likely, her) global identity with, or above his local, regional, or national membership. He is, in this framing, of the world, and acting for the world.

The global citizen is a fetish that has been constructed, if not concocted. In this sense, there is nothing objectively real about the imagined global citizen. It is, rather, a powerful imagined identity substituted for other, less optimal (and optimistic) identities that are lived and enacted across the world in our contemporary times of great uncertainty. These identities, especially those which I encounter in my research on migrants and border crossers, are complex, contextually-enacted, dynamic compilations of elements at once deeply treasured and often despised and dangerous. Within a framework of global citizenship, how are we to situate the Yazidi, who are abducted or murdered in Iraq or the stateless and Rohingya in Burma? Are they the populations who will be aided by the global citizens, but who will, themselves, hold no legal claim to rights or citizenship within their own states? And what are we to make of the mobile elite, those who hold citizenship in multiple countries, and travel freely, in part, whose identities are possible because of the labor of those without security and belonging?

Most, if not all of us, engage in fetishes—whether it be of the perfect locally-harvested meal or the “right” spiritual practice—and these are not necessarily harmful. Yet, to fetishize a global citizen is to sterilize and obscure the suffering, the violence, and the xenophobia that structure much of what the world’s population encounters, challenges, and takes up in the making of identities.  Fabricating and fascinating the global citizen is part of the larger normative long-term undertakings of those of us in the West who enjoy relative privilege.  The desire for the global citizen has much more to do with us than it does with those who might be “helped” by the global citizenship education agenda that aims to develop future generations of global citizens. The belief in the global citizen is a fetish that I encourage you to forgo in favor of targeting commitments, efforts, and funding to alleviate the issues of poverty, injustices, and inequity through concerted attention to global stratifications and issues of human rights violations.

About the author:

Jill Koyama, PhD
Anthropologist and Associate Professor,
Educational Policy Studies and Practice,
Teaching, Learning, and Sociocultural Studies,
College of Education,The University of Arizona,

Contact her:
Twitter @Koyamawonders
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jill.koyama

Note: The views expressed in this blog are of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNESCO MGIEP.