Cultivating empathy, a scientific appreciation for the natural world and responsibility towards future generations must be at the core of education for global citizenship, agreed 4,400 representatives of 700 NGOs and universities attending the 66th Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organization (DPI/ NGO) Conference to create and strengthen partnerships on education for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
1 June 2016: Cultivating empathy, a scientific appreciation for the natural world and responsibility towards future generations must be at the core of education for global citizenship, agreed 4,400 representatives of 700 NGOs and universities attending the 66th Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organization (DPI/NGO) Conference to create and strengthen partnerships on education for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Conference ‘Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together’ took place in Gyeongju, South Korea, from 29 May-1 June 2016. The Conference included five roundtables, 45 workshops, 69 exhibitions and a series of youth-related events.
Participants adopted a global education action agenda that affirms the importance of SDG 4 (Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong opportunities for all). The Gyeongju Action Plan provides concrete guidance for NGOs around the world to enhance their ability to lobby governments to commitment to implementing the SDGs and mobilize NGOs in communities on the ground.
Maher Nasser, DPI, said the Conference is “particularly important” in the first year of SDG implementation as it gathers civil society representatives from more than 100 countries to agree on an action agenda that defines their own role and that of education in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Rasheda K. Choudhury, Global Campaign for Education and Campaign for Popular Education, cautioned that education is increasingly becoming a commodity sold in the market rather than a public good. She said learners from poor families become the biggest victims in this process.
Teopista Birungi Mayanja, Uganda Education Services and International Commission on Financing for Global Education Opportunities, expressed concern that promoting competition, testing and the publication of league tables can force teachers to “teach to the test” and exclude crucial, non-examinable areas, such as physical education, music and art. She stressed that the “narrowness” of some of the global indicators that have been proposed to monitor and review SDG 4 implementation could further narrow the curriculum, and she called on civil society organizations to challenge this trend.
Alexander Leicht, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said the voices and teachings of indigenous cultures can help identify the values and skill sets necessary for sustainable production and consumption (SCP). Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, said indigenous peoples can impart vital knowledge on protecting the environment.
Youth also developed and issued a Youth Declaration. Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, noted that the Conference stressed the urgency of greater investments in education for global citizenship, to unlock the potential of the “massive” generation of children and youth.
The conference was organized in cooperation with the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, the NGO community, the Government of the Republic of Korea and a National Organizing Committee of Korea. The Gyeongju Action Plan was drafted through a global multi-stakeholder consultation process leading up to and during the conference. It was adopted at the Conference’s final plenary session and will be shared with civil society as well as the UN Secretary-General, UN System, Member States and learning communities. [UN Press Release, 29 May] [UN Press Release, 31 May (I)] [UN Press Release, 31 May (II)] [UN Press Release, 1 June] [ESCAP Press Release, 30 May (I)] [ESCAP Press Release, 30 May (II)]