Inevitably, given the stimulus of the St George's House event, I have been thinking some more about education and the SDGs, and in particular about the role of schools and NGOs in relation to the goals. What follows here is about NGOs that have a global social justice focus with an education mission; the thoughts are inevitably incomplete.
The goals should not be seen as a subject or curriculum area, but might helpfully be seen as a window or a frame (or as a distorting lens) through which to see the world.
Such NGOs should …
- have an educative role
- present both the positive and negative aspects of the goals and how they were arrived at
- make the case that we (society and schools) should take the goals seriously
- take all the goals seriously and look for necessary interconnections and synergies
- encourage / enable teachers to critically explore the goals and the idea of the goals with students
- help schools see the goals as a whole (and not separate and separatable)
- acknowledge that the goals apply to the UK (EU, etc) as well as to the wider world, and that these are inevitably interconnected
- make stats and data about the goals readily available to teachers
Individual NGOs might think it necessary and valuable to work with other NGOs that have complementary (rather than similar) interests as this would surely help them in carrying out such roles and, crucially, enable an informed approach to taking all the goals seriously. That said, there are no education NGOs, as far as I can see, that currently take (what I shall term) the natural capital goals as seriously as NGOs like Oxfam take (what I shall term) the social justice goals. This imbalance is a problem and is exemplified and exacerbated by the promotion of global learning by DfID and the non-promotion of environmental learning by DfE / DEFRA.
It could be that a key initiative that NGOs interested in global learning / social justice might take is to invite prominent NGOs that are interested in (or which should be interested in) education related to the natural capital goals (like the Wildlife Trusts / the British Trust for Ornithology / the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust / the Marine Conservation Society / etc / etc), to work with them to further a whole-goal (and whole-school) approach.
That might be good for everyone.
A new book, The World We'll Leave Behind (which I've co-written with Paul Vare), directly addresses these issues.