The Global Schools Program (GSP) celebrated a special year in 2023 as it commemorated its 5th-year anniversary, highlighting a journey in promoting global citizenship and education for sustainable development (ESD).
Global Schools Advocates Program
The year commenced with the graduation of the 2022-2023 Global Schools Advocates Program cohort, showcasing the impact of education on the global stage. Advocates are teachers and school leaders, who receive pedagogical training on how to integrate ESD in their classrooms and school communities. This year, Advocates achieved outstanding results, engaging over 9,600 educators in activities and workshops, reaching 38,000 community members, and positively impacting 73,000 students globally via lessons and activities promoting ESD competencies.
In July 2023, GSP welcomed a new cohort of educators, receiving 3,500+ applications, the highest number in the program’s history. Kendra-Lee Heney, the Project Lead for Education, noted the significance of this achievement as educators worldwide demonstrated a heightened commitment to the program’s principles.
On June 16th, 2023, GSP unveiled the results of its research project built on lessons learned from three pilot studies in Morocco, Ghana, and Turkey. The research pilots were completed in partnership with Hacettepe University, the University of Education, the Millennium Promise Alliance Inc., the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection, and Al Akhawayn University. The newly launched toolkit, titled “From Commitment to Action: Integrating Sustainable Development into National Education Priorities: A Practical Guide for Policymakers, Practitioners, and Researchers,” aims to provide a blueprint for educators, policymakers, and researchers to integrate ESD into national and local education systems. With a focus on sustainable development, the toolkit provides analytical frameworks and tools to seamlessly integrate evidence-based ESD interventions into existing national curricula across all grades and subjects.
GSP also launched classroom resources tailored for its educator community, including a Clean Water Activities Guide and a Healthy Communities Activities Guide, as well as introduced lesson plans in Swahili. These resources are focused on enhancing the program’s efficacy and accessibility, fostering a holistic approach to sustainable development.
Professional Development Sessions
Throughout the year, GSP hosted professional development sessions on greening STEM education, play-based learning, systems-thinking, digital education & the SDGs, curriculum development, and more, reaching hundreds of educators across the globe. A notable highlight is GSP’s session for UNESCO’s ESD-Net 2030 community. GSP was one of twelve selected organizations to lead a session featuring its programming and approaches. The session, titled “Incorporating ESD into Primary Education: an Interactive Playbook Approach,” was a part of a global community-driven initiative fostering mutual learning.
A partnership highlight includes Global Schools’ ongoing work in Puerto Rico. On March 10, 2023, the Puerto Rico Department of Education (PRDE) hosted a workshop at Manuela Toro Morice High School in partnership with GSP and the Puerto Rico Chapter of the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA PR). Aimed at social studies teachers, the workshop focused on integrating SDGs into their lesson plans.The workshop aimed to tailor lesson plans to the local context using GSP’s guidelines.
Throughout the year, GSP conducted several campaigns, aligning with global events like International Education Day, Women's Day, Earth Day, Youth Day, and Teacher's Day. On January 24th, GSP joined the world, the UN, and UNESCO in celebrating the International Day of Education following the theme: “To invest in people, prioritize education.” The campaign garnered over 3,100 engagements and 22,000 impressions. Next, in alignment with International Women's Day’s theme, "Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality," GSP engaged in a five-day social media campaign, spotlighting women and girls in the digital age. On April 22nd, the Global Schools Program celebrated Earth Day with the global theme of "One Advocate, One Planet."
This year, GSP hosted official side events at the International Conference on Sustainable Development, the ECOSOC Partnership Forum, the AFS Youth Assembly, Helsinki Education Week, the UNGA, and COP28. In addition, GSP officers spoke at Aspen Institute Climate in Miami, the WISE Summit in Qatar at the invitation of the Qatar Foundation, the MENA Youth Climate Summit in Saudi Arabia, and the SDG Summit in NYC. Beyond participating in events, GSP represented Mission 4.7 at the second session of the Intergovernmental Special Committee Meeting on the Revision of the 1974 Recommendation at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
Specifically, GSP’s involvement at COP28 comprised various sessions at the UNESCO Greening Education Pavillion with the UAE Ministry of Education, such as “Winning Solutions on Greening Education,” aiming to foster a showcase of comprehensive, climate-focused education practices. The “Bridging Youth Leadership and Sustainable Education” session at the Climate Action Stage highlighted the role of young leaders in integrating sustainability into learning. GSP was also invited by the G20 Global Land Initiative and the UNCCD to address the importance of integrating land restoration in schools at their side event.
GSP was once again named to the HundrED Innovation Collection for 2024. In addition, GSP was shortlisted for the Reimagine Education awards in the sustainability education category, on behalf of SDSN
As 2023 marks the halfway point to achieving the SDGs, GSP remains at the forefront, empowering educators to shape a sustainable future. This year also marks the start of a tenure of a new Director, Amanda Abrom, who remains committed to supporting and empowering schools globally in alignment with the program’s mission. This year, she was recognized as a WISE Emerging Leader by the World Innovation Summit for Education and the Qatar Foundation, as well as a Young Climate Leader by the Aspen Institute. With the momentum gained in 2023, GSP hopes to set the stage for even greater impact in the years to come, nurturing a generation of change-makers committed to a more sustainable and interconnected world.