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On The Way For A Sustainable World: Learnings and advice from a Global Schools Advocate

Written by Arife Şahin Kesici, Global Schools Advocate from Turkey

A journey is a great opportunity to get to know people and build good relationships with them. I also feel like I'm on a journey of discovery. I have to say that the people I went along with on this journey -who contributed a lot with the steps taken, both planned and unplanned- gave a lot of meaning to the process. The fact that this journey goes towards a goal that unites everyone is an important element that ensures bonding. This purpose is a more sustainable world! Of course, we can encounter paths, obstacles, or roughness that we cannot calculate. However, gathering people who are faithful and determined for the ultimate goal, and the increasing number of them, can make the struggle against difficulties surmountable.

Today, we are faced with many problems in different fields around the world. Global problems that concern the world and all people pose a threat. Climate change is among the problems the world causes and is affected by its consequences, such as hunger, migration, natural disasters, discrimination, and inequality, among others. The solution to the problems experienced in the world is possible with the cooperation of countries. In this regard, the common denominator in the solution is to provide unity with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, Education and training are important in forming an opinion about the developments and problems in the world, making decisions about them, and acquiring different skills and values. It also has an indispensable value for all people.

On the other hand, schools operate to provide students with specific objectives of education and training activities. With the role of making schools effective or successful, the teacher is desired to be seen as an instructional leader by all its stakeholders. Raising individuals who are citizens of the world who are sensitive to global problems is among the most sacred goals to be achieved for teachers. Personally, I have taken very meaningful steps in my journey to contribute to raising individuals who are sensitive to global problems, both with the help of the Global Schools Program (GSP) and the support of my school community. The cooperation within the school community has strengthened us to effectively reach the SDGs, which emerged to provide solutions to the problems that concern the world and students. During my role as a Global Schools Advocate, I aimed to inspire my school community to raise awareness of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and find solutions to global problems. My school community was very supportive in this regard from the beginning of the program. We promised and implemented contributions to a sustainable world through all kinds of academic and social studies. Our call to action was, “Everything is for a more beautiful, more livable, more sustainable world... Are you there?”. Since our journey started, we haven’t stopped and have continued to achieve this goal. In this regard, I’m happy to share some advice so everybody can start taking action.

Studies that can inspire you on our journey to a Sustainable World

TED Rönesans College has conducted many nature and environment-friendly studies and projects since its establishment. In my school community, we tried to contribute to a more livable world as individuals and as a community with our knowledge, skills, and values. This year, we have chosen our theme as "Sustainability" to leave a clean and healthy world to future generations.

Inspiration toolkit: steps taken by my School Community

  • Keep school leaders informed on the details of GSP and the SDGs and act together so the school community can be fully involved in the process.

  • Establish a committee that includes a leader from all levels of the school to select one of the SDGs as the school goal and to carry out the studies in a systematic way.

  • Conduct surveys to measure the school community's awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Make a presentation introducing the SDGs and GSP to the school community.

  • Create programs related to Sustainable Development Goals in school trips, competitions, projects, and social clubs, among others.

  • Organize workshops for the school community to get to know the SDGs.

  • Collaborate with non-governmental organizations.

  • Make plans to increase the visibility of the SDGs in the living spaces of the school. Make arrangements where these goals are included as a theme on school and classroom boards throughout the year. For this, make a poster, and share information about activities in the communication channels and portals that show concrete examples.

  • Organize campaigns that students, teachers, parents, and all school staff can participate in. For example, we planned an aid campaign to support children in need at the beginning of the year. We also limited the sending of e-mails by making announcements through the communication channel called Portal to reduce the digital carbon footprint.

  • Organize important days and events with the theme of sustainability. For example, we planned a concert by the orchestra consisting of songs that drew attention to sustainability during the opening ceremony. For Republic Day, we conducted exhibitions with recycling materials during our National day. For the Attitude, Investment, and Turkish Goods week, we invited guests related to the theme of responsible production and organized workshops.

  • Work in different areas considering the SDGs in all school levels (pre-school, primary, secondary, and high school).

Advancing toward a Sustainable World at all levels of School

Regarding this last step, I would like to share concrete examples for each demonstrating that change can be implemented at all levels.

  • Pre-school level: from time to time, we visited the area where the school garden buries organic waste and plastic bottles. Students were able to learn about trees and nature, and we also implemented activities based on SDG 12, responsible consumption and production, by teaching them about the disappearance of objects in nature, designing a bag with a t-shirt to avoid and reducing the use of plastic, and organizing a recyclable costume party.

  • Primary school level: We conducted several activities, from identifying a school in need and making book donations to supporting the UNICEF Kid Power Water Donation campaign to deliver clean water worldwide. Students were also able to collect waste from their homes to conduct the activity "An Upcycling Activity: Making a Home," where houses for stray animals were built with waste.

  • Secondary school level: for this level, we focused on learning about our valuable Cultural heritage by holding a Cultural Detectives Tracing Workshop with İdil Bilgin. The aim was to seek answers to the questions by playing with children, ensuring they got to know the profession of conservationist, offering them information about the 17 SDGs, and having scenarios about the impact of people on the environment in the future. Students identified three problems and offered solutions through different scenarios, pictures, or poems.

  • High school level: They also made book donations to a school in need and raised awareness about the SDGs by creating a theatrical play called “A Sustainable World.” We also created nature calendars related to the SDGs, raised questions about reducing waste, and they designed sustainable cities with the Cittaslow project.

We are still at the beginning of the road. We do not want to limit what we learn to school, but we want to carry it to our habits in our homes and wherever we reach. We will strive not to forget our contribution to a sustainable world in all kinds of academic and social studies that we will implement.


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