Written by Global Schools Project Officer, Santha Nair Chandran
Sunway University Malaysia has spearheaded solutions around the Sustainable Development Goals, and it is also the home to the Jeffrey Sachs Centre. To begin improving and providing better services around the SDGs and the ASEAN region, the UN SDSN launched the SDSN Asia Headquarters at Sunway University, on the 17th of November 2022. As Project Officer for Events and Partnerships, my role was to provide Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) services and knowledge on behalf of the Global Schools Program.
The event kicked off at the luxurious Sunway Resorts with a buffet dinner, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the SDSN itself, with speeches given by world-renowned economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs, President of SDSN; Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah AO, SDSN Global Leadership Council member and Chair of SDSN Malaysia; Professor Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, the Executive Secretary-General of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (who participated through a virtual video message). Reconnecting with former colleagues and networking with a new group of business experts truly has broadened the mind of a regular English teacher, in terms of understanding the role of different stakeholders in forming partnerships to progress toward the SDGs and toward Agenda 2030, especially in South East Asia. I shared the mission and vision plus the work of the Global Schools Program. Providing everyone with knowledge of ESD, especially on running actionable programs for schools via my experience with different organizations.
The celebration continued with the second day of closed-door meetings, focusing on the ASEAN Green Future initiative and other UN SDSN agendas in education and the environment. It was indeed an honor to speak on a panel entitled Advancing Education for Sustainable Development. The panel was moderated by Shannon Kobran, Regional Team Lead for Asia, SDG Academy; I was joined on the panel by guest speaker Prof. Patrick Paul Walsh, Vice President of Education, SDSN, and Director, SDG Academy, as well as Karen Chand, Director, Education Studies, SDSN. I had the opportunity to share my views on ESD through my own work as an English teacher at a Vernacular School (SJKT Sithambaram Pillay and SJKT Nova Scotia 2), in Teluk Intan, Perak. I also shared how the Global Schools Program resources were helpful in teaching ESD while I was a Global Schools Advocate. Drawing on the valuable experiences I had during my time as an Advocate, and my participation at the Transforming Education Summit (TES) in New York in September, I was able to share the call of rebooting and reforming our education system to address the education crisis with 3 + 3 solutions that were put forward at TES. The 3 + 3 solutions are 3 priorities by any education system (1. Foundational learning. 2. Well-being and whole-of-child development and 3. 21st-century skills for work and citizenship), combining with in-depth, actionable grassroots solutions in: 1. Equity and inclusion, 2. Technology and 3. Education financing and strong leadership through reasonable power and purpose.
In addition to my intervention on the panel, it was an honor to have met different groups of people in the community who are trying to create a shift and progress toward the sustainability of education from the grassroots level and other subject matters around the SDGs. Overall, the whole event ended with a fantastic takeaway to continue fighting for the education crisis through my work under Global Schools Program, the SDG Academy, and the UN SDSN holistically. The Global Schools Program highlights amazing Advocates in ESD, and it provides amazing resources for educators to be used. Going forward, I hope to create an education community under GSP within the Southeast Asian region through a partnership alliance under the UN SDSN and the SDG Academy.