Global Schools Advocate, Simon Omusula Wamu, instills the importance of Sustainable Development into his school community
In March 2021, I was privileged to work as an Advocate of the Global Schools Program, an initiative run by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) supporting UNESCO’s Global Action plan for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The advocacy role came after a highly interactive and informative training by the Global Schools team.
In this role, I initiated and implemented ESD activities with students from Merrylane Centre School, Kenya. I held workshops with my fellow teachers at the school. I introduced the concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the importance of playing our part in spreading the ESD message through participating in the program.
The advocacy journey provided me with a unique opportunity to interact with the children, teachers, parents, and the community, and learn alongside them about issues related to sustainability. It was surprising to realize the limited knowledge people had on the SDGs. Less than 10% of the people I interviewed had never heard about SDGs. I was obligated, therefore, to first introduce the SDG concepts and explain their significance to the whole aspect of development.
I held a total of three workshops with teachers. The first meeting was to introduce them to the SDGs and rally them to work with me to implement the noble cause of ESD. The second meeting, which was held two months into the advocacy role, was to review the progress of the activities and identify challenges and devise solutions to these challenges. The third meeting presented an opportunity for the teachers to summarize their experiences during these five months.
At the school level and with the help of fellow teachers, I conducted several classroom and school-wide activities that helped learners develop a deeper understanding of SDGs and their contribution to a sustainable society. I encouraged the learners to extend the activities to their homes and involve their parents. This was an innovative way to introduce the ESD concepts to the community and create a sense of responsibility among community members.
I ensured that every class had a Global Goals Chart on which the children, through my guidance, would mount pictures, items, and anything that helped to demonstrate the importance of the SDGs. I also used the little space within the school compound to create a small school garden that provided vegetables to the school and helped teach the children about multiple SDGs, including No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Wellbeing, Responsible Consumption, and Climate Action. It was amazing to realize how a single, simple activity could have the capacity to address multiple Global Goals.
In July, as my advocacy role was fast approaching the end, I invited parents to school to have an ‘SDG experience.’ I took this opportunity to explain the whole ESD concept to the parents. The learners had the opportunity to showcase the ESD activities to their parents. To put the icing on the cake, I presented the children with the ‘Badges of Pride.’ These were badges with ESD values (curiosity, empathy, creativity, problem solver) written on them.
I attended several virtual meetings organized by the amazing Global Schools team. The sessions were attended by global change-makers that helped to broaden my perspective on ESD and the entire development space. I also had interactions with other advocates from different parts of the globe through social media, especially through the Facebook group created specifically for the Advocates. This was a perfect networking platform that helped me share my activities and thoughts and learn from other advocates.
By and large, the program was a significant turning point for me. It gave me the knowledge and skills and the attitudes and values that helped me recognize the importance of empathy and the centrality of curiosity. This experience developed my agency to cascade the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to colleagues and the learners.
I had uncountable proud moments. The ESD activities’ interactive nature encouraged many erstwhile timid children to become more active in learning, leading to improved learning outcomes. Being awarded as the Global Schools Advocate of the Month was also humbling to me.
As a passionate advocate for quality education, I believe the Global Schools Program changed my understanding of the meaning of quality education. It led me to understand that quality education is one that is transformative, one that delivers not only the knowledge, but also the competencies, values, and skills necessary for current and future generations to achieve a sustainable, responsive, and peaceful society.
I commit to spreading the ESD message far and beyond the confines of my school and community. This is my little contribution towards making the world a better place for this generation and the generations to come.
Thank you, Global Schools.
- Written by Simon Omusula Wamu, Global Schools Advocate from Kenya