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Written by Abigail Chifusa, Global Schools Project Officer, and Raquel Armendariz, Global Schools Project Lead (Communications). 

As we approach the end of the year, the Global Schools Program (GSP) is amazed by the dedication of our Advocates to continue promoting sustainable solutions through Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This time, for December, we celebrate nine changemakers who have embraced the mission of GSP and demonstrated that educating the future generations to become global citizens who advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is possible. 

Let’s take a look at these incredible individuals. Congratulations to all! 

Mariam Savadogo (Burkina Faso)

As an English teacher, Mariam Savadgo from Burkina Faso is implementing ESD-related activities in three different schools she collaborates with. Thanks to her incredible work, she’s been able to reach hundreds of students and teach them about the majority of the SDGs. By incorporating creativity into these activities, Mariam was capable of carrying out fun and enjoyable activities such as song analysis or storytelling, which the students loved. Particularly, the song analysis activity with grade 8 students consisted of looking for the meaning of the song and connecting it to SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being, by understanding the relevance of healthy eating. On the other hand, storytelling was used by students to express and reflect on how their personal experiences and daily lives relate to different SDGs, such as SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 4 (Quality Education), 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), and more. Moreover, working with different-level students, Mariam was able to adapt the sustainability-focused discussions by providing older students with more in-depth conversations and reflections on the SDGs. One of the activities even included a presentation that provided students with the opportunity to develop their critical thinking, collaboration, and public speaking skills.

Reflecting on the situation of their own country and the international community, Mariam also raised awareness of the importance of SDG 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) and provided students with an insightful lesson on peace and why it’s so necessary in today’s world. What’s more, following the same topic and as the children watched the rise of the flag every morning, through peace-related discussions and reflection on the importance of culture, they were able to understand global citizenship, conflict resolution, and the importance of empathy with individuals and with the community. In this way, Mariam is helping students develop 21st-century skills that are necessary for a sustainable future. 

Finally, Mariam also established relationships with the different teachers she worked with across the three schools and conducted a variety of Global Schools Workshops to provide her colleagues with knowledge on sustainability. Likewise, she successfully involved the whole school community in school-wide ESD activities and improved leadership, research, and communication skills. Looking ahead, Mariam is eager to continue her actions to promote the SDGs. 

Miryam Keshityeni Shangheta (Namibia)

Miryam Keshityeni Shangheta is a passionate advocate of SDG 4 (Quality Education) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities), working to implement ESD in her country, Namibia. Since starting her advocacy journey, Miryam has been able to introduce the SDGs to her colleagues and students and engage in a variety of activities. From implementing activities that helped students learn how to save water (SDG 6) to understanding how to plant trees to contribute to the world's biosphere (SDG 15), learning the importance of providing clean spaces for the community, and working towards providing sanitary products to every school girl, Miryam shows how everyone can contribute to a sustainable world and be a changemaker.  

In addition, some of her most relevant activities are related to recycling and promoting good health and sanitation. Firstly, Myriam served as a guide for the students' recycling club, which allowed the learners to implement a wide range of projects. For example, by collecting and recycling food sacs from the school kitchen and their own houses, students sewed and created unique and creative bags. The activity served to teach students about SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. On the other hand, to learn about SDGs 3, 4, and 6, the whole school celebrated the United Nations' "World Toilets Day," which aims to raise awareness about the importance of taking action to address the global sanitation crisis. For this, the whole school gathered together, and students who had previously attended a training presented why it's so important to promote sanitation and how it contributes to good health. The event ended by organizing a school cleaning where teachers and students worked together. 

In the end, thanks to Miryam's efforts, students and teachers are motivated to continue working to implement a sustainable community.

Ekaterine Arveladze (Georgia)

For Ekaterine Arveladze, from Georgia, working as a Global Schools Advocate has been equally interesting and challenging. However, thanks to her amazing work and constant cooperation with her school's student government and school leadership, she's been able to bring EDS to the community and work for a better future. 

Some of the activities she led included the celebration of several UN days to promote the different SDGs related to the day. From the celebration of Media Literacy Week at the end of October that promoted SDG 4 and SDG 16 to honoring World Children's Day with several activities that covered the majority of the Goals, the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women that discussed SDG 5 Gender Equality, and observing the Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare that served to discuss the importance to advocate for SDG16. However, one of the activities that Ekaterine is most proud of is the "Complex Task" that students did, which consisted of imagining that they were in a TV studio and participating in a health-related program. By role-playing as hosts and health experts, the learners worked on their communication skills and learned about SDG 3.

Finally, Ekaterine collaborated with her peers to conduct different lessons by utilizing GSP's lesson plans across different grades. Covering SDGs such as 5 (Gender Equality) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals), among others, Ekaterine has shown that bringing change and sustainability to the classroom is possible. 

Tulay Akan (Turkey)

Under her leadership and as a member of the newest cohort, Tulay Akan has organized and implemented a number of activities in her school, which is located in Turkey. Not only Tulay has been covering the SDGs but also the 21st-century skills that students need to create a sustainable future. Activities that she developed for this include self-management activities and training that were implemented through fun games, a kermis that was installed and organized to welcome students from neighboring institutions and used as a fundraising event for local charities, and letting the children take care and learn from animals in the school barn. All these activities were an opportunity for the students to learn about empathy, compassion, diversity, environmental responsibility, and more. 

On the other hand, she implemented the topics of the different Goals through a variety of activities that involved art. For example, children learned about SDG 12 by creating art through recycled materials and using them to create an exhibit, and on another occasion, about SDG 6 decorating recycled water bottles to reflect and raise awareness about the importance of water. In fact, protecting the environment and our natural resources was a big talking point for Tulay and her students. At the school-wide level, some examples include how the science teachers utilized the GSP Clean Water Activities Guide to teach how to save water and recycle it or how students learned about the protection and care of the fish in the school pond, which led them to learn about SDG 14, Life Below Water. Likewise, at the classroom level, Tulay focused on discussing topics such as reducing the carbon footprint through recycling or studying the school's butterfly gardens to cover SDG 15, Life on Land. 

Finally, as an advocate interested in fostering their students to become global citizens, Tulay held an activity that allowed students to learn about education around the world and how different cultures, through different values, promote quality education. 

Daniel Ndubuisi Chukwuemeka (Nigeria)

Daniel Ndubuisi Chukwuemeka is an inspiring advocate who is following his commitment to shaping the next generation into socially conscious, empowered individuals poised to make a positive impact on the world. As a Global Schools Advocate, Daniel has successfully integrated ESD into the curriculum at his work, Start-Rite Schools in Nigeria, to deepen students' knowledge about the SDGs and inspire them to action as active global citizens. Following these principles, he has implemented several activities with his primary-level students. For example, he focused on SDG16 and provided different-level students with activities such as explaining why everyone is special and should be treated with respect and inclusivity or researching changemakers in the community to learn how they inspire change for a fairer and more sustainable world. Furthermore, the children became so interested in the SDGs that they even attempted to create an "SDGs song," showcasing that sustainability and creativity go hand in hand. 

Additionally, Daniel's efforts even facilitated students' participation in UN-organized activities in their country, Nigeria. What's more, to continue inspiring change among the students, Daniel facilitated different strategic partnerships, including meetings with local and national change agents, so students could engage in conversations and learn how to instigate positive change. Meanwhile, outside of the school context, Daniel has continued his efforts to advocate for sustainability and quality education as he has worked with the GreenHub Africa Foundation (GHAF) in promoting climate activism in education in public schools. Finally, to bridge educational gaps for less privileged children, he collaborated with the Victor and Amaka Ndoma-Egba Foundation (VANEF) and came up with an initiative that encourages privileged members of society to redirect resources towards funding one year of tuition for underprivileged students. After all, for Daniel, addressing broader societal issues exemplifies the role of education in fostering a sense of responsibility towards the environment and the global community.

Oluwafemi Abayomi Adeyomola (Nigeria)

Since starting his journey as a Global Schools Advocate, Oluwafemi Abayomi Adeyomola from Nigeria has constantly contributed to promoting the SDGs in his school and local community. Thanks to his big motivation, Oluwafemi has successfully engaged his students in several activities to promote ESD in their classrooms. 

Taking advantage of his work with both primary and secondary students, he was able to engage them in different discussions and activities. Firstly, with primary students, he organized discussions about SDG 5 Gender Equality. Through these discussions, learners understood why the views and stereotypes associated with genders are incorrect, and through research, questions, and the use of the Activities Guide on Quality Education, they learned what they could do to resolve the issues that arise from there. Meanwhile, with secondary students, Oluwafemi adopted a similar format to discuss SDG 13 Climate Action, SDG 14 Life Below Water, and SDG 15 Life on Land. Again, Oluwafemi presented the topics, provided examples, and raised awareness, and from there, students were able to reflect and think about actions that they could implement to promote a sustainable planet. The outcome of this activity was great, as many students became very passionate about taking action. Other activities held by Oluwafemi include a presentation to over 250 students about the Global Schools Program and the 17 SDGs. Through the display of banners, reflections, and examples of actions, students are ready to take action in their lives, and from now on, the students are going to continue incorporating these topics into their schools' initiatives as debates, assembly talks, and other extracurricular activities. 

Outside of his school, Oluwafemi also took action to other institutions around his community. After presenting his role as an Advocate, he provided a presentation about ESD with the teachers and explained how they could introduce the SDGs into the school curriculum. The occasion served as an opportunity to establish a partnership as from now on, the teachers are going to be involved in introducing the SDGs into their school, and Oluwafemi will serve as a guide and expert. 

Garima Singh (UAE)

Since starting her journey as a Global Schools Advocate and as a subject coordinator, Garima Singh has been working relentlessly to play a central part in her school’s efforts to integrate ESD into its curriculum. Partnering closely with some of her peers, Garima has been successful in rolling out projects that demonstrate her school’s commitment to sustainability and worldwide consciousness. Just in the last month, her learners have made progress by coming up with a number of successful, impactful classroom activities. For example, students learned about growing plants and life at the school’s gardens, which contributed to their understanding of SDG 15, Life of Land, and the importance of protecting them for SDG 13 Climate Action. In some other instances, Garima has contributed to promoting other Goals by designing and implementing a lesson on religion across the world to learn about empathy and equality or expanding the opportunity for student collaboration to discuss concerning local issues and find the best sustainable solutions. 

Likewise, by putting teamwork into action and collaborating with her peers, Garina has ensured that students understand themselves as global citizens. For that, they implemented a session covering the values that are involved as well as relevant data to implement actionable steps that serve as catalysts for change. Taking advantage of her knowledge of technology as a computing educator, Garima has implemented “sustainability with the force of technology” as the key topic of the year in her school, which has been an incredible success. By guiding students on how to create game prototypes that improve their technical skills and make them take responsibility for tackling real-world issues using technology, they have been able to demonstrate how easy it is to integrate the essence of ESD into multiple subject areas. Thanks to these efforts, learners are engaged in deep conversations and have started to mobilize their engagement for environmental conservation. 

Julie Knutson (USA)

Julie Knutson teaches in the Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Knowing fully that learners bring diverse perspectives, experiences, interests, and talents to the classroom, she strives to create opportunities for all students to cultivate their agency as changemakers who are comfortable navigating complexity and interdependence. Throughout the year and thanks to Julie’s recent incorporation as a Global Schools Advocate, students have taken on the role of educators and community organizers. For example, just in November, her sixth graders implemented a variety of activities, from putting SDG 16 into action by commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to crafting SDGs-inspired comics and researching sustainability heroes to teach the rest of the school about the importance of these, working on projects to revitalize the school rain garden or even learning about equality by combating misconceptions and stereotypes. What’s more, as a faculty co-sponsor of the middle school “Eco Club,” where students work on projects related to SDGs 12 and 13, Julie knows firsthand the importance of raising awareness about the environmental and human impact on our planet. 

On the other hand, within the local community, Julie’s school launched an initiative revolving around “Change Makers” in the community, where 6th graders hosted nonprofit founders to learn more about promoting peace and advocating for the more vulnerable groups. Thanks to the conversations created with charity founders, students were able to address pressing issues relating to SDGs 1,3, 10, and 16, among others. What’s more, to promote SDG 2 and 12, under her leadership, the school’s cafeterias mobilized to launch a program for food donation for unsheltered people. Looking into the winter, two student groups have even gotten ready to coordinate a winter drive to collect essentials, which will be distributed later this month. 

Looking ahead, Julie will keep her belief that the global challenges faced will not be solved by one person or group; tackling them requires dialogue, coalition building, and consensus. Therefore, in the spirit of “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” and “Partnership for the Goals,” she hopes to leverage her tenure as a Global Schools Advocate to continue equipping students with the skills needed to communicate and collaborate for meaningful and sustained social change.

Jay Chew (Australia) 

Jay Chew is a Global Schools Advocate passionate about SDG 4 and 13. Following his passion, Jay, as a science teacher, has successfully advocated for a more environmentally aware education. One of his most notable projects includes a climate education project that used a problem-learning approach to address the food sustainability and waste issues within the school. Along with almost 200 students, Jay has successfully engaged in designing sustainable solutions for their institution. These include creating a school garden or a school composter to reduce the carbon footprint and enhance food composting practices in the community. These actions are related to the targets presented in SDG 2 Zero Hunger, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production, and SDG 13 Climate Action. The consequences of this project have been incredible as Jay has observed a positive response from both students and teachers, leading to the initiation of various activities such as organizing campaigns. Furthermore, Jay's project gained recognition and was chosen as an online repository on climate education in the “Teachers for the Planet Programme.” It was showcased to global educators at the RewirED Summit during COP28 in Dubai this year.

On the other hand, at the school-wide level, the focus of activities for the last month has been on SDG 4: Quality Education and SDG 13 Climate Action. Their aim is to address anticipatory and strategic competencies by enabling the students to identify multiple solutions to issues and barriers in education. They also strive to empower the students to explore ways of overcoming these barriers and improving their community involvement in the projects they undertake. These projects include whole-school assemblies conducted by 6th grade students.  The Students have developed the idea of organizing a quiz and a whole-school competition to raise awareness. 

Moving forward, the school aims to expand SDG-related lessons to all departments, from English to mathematics and humanities. As other teachers express their interest in learning about the Global Schools Program and its mission, Jay serves as a leader for the school and his community. 


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