Manifestos compared

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

I wrote the other day about the 2021 manifesto from Education International.  This post comments on another manifesto: the more recent one from NAEE.  This was launched in early 2022 and you can read a number of comments here.  Before I go on, I need to declare that I had a hand in writing this (one of a small team) so I am not a disinterested commentator.

As far as I know, those drafting (with a lot of re-re-redrafting) the NAEE manifesto did not refer to the Education International one during the process.  And yet, in structure, there is a similarity.  Perhaps that is in the nature of manifestos.  Each has a brief Introduction followed by the manifesto statements themselves.  In NAEE's case, these fall under 4 themes: Leaders / Teachers / Learners / The organisation, with each these being exemplified by 4 sub-statements.  In the case of EI, there were 5 themes and 22 statements: The themes (paraphrased) were: Government responsibility / Student learning outcomes / Curriculum breadth / Teacher training / The school environment.

In focus, however, they are distinct.  The Education International manifesto focuses on "quality climate change education for all" whilst the NAEE's focus is broader: "young people’s learning and the environment".  The NAEE manifesto is aimed across the educational eco-system at school and college leaders and governors, teachers, pupils and students, and (NAEE says) it is relevant to policy makers, administrators, inspectors, teacher educators, and NGO education teams.  The Education International one is more narrowly aimed, as the manifesto ...

"hereby calls on every government in the world to deliver on their commitments to climate change education and education for sustainable development in the Paris Agreement (article 12) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (targets 4.7, 12.8 and 13.3)."

The NAEE manifesto sets out commitments under each of the 4 themes (16 in all) that NAEE thinks "will help guide institutions to become more sustainable, and improve the education that pupils and students receive".  The headings are set out as actions.  For example:

  – As leaders we shall ... foreground an inclusive whole-institution approach to environmental issues, including those around equity and justice.

 –  As teachers we shall ... encourage pupils and students to explore issues critically and creatively, and to challenge the views, values and ideas that are presented to them in ways that develop their capacity to contribute to society throughout their lives.

– As learners we shall ... be open-minded, critical and creative when encountering new ideas and recognise that values are important in making decisions for ourselves, our families and for society, and that values can change.

  – As an organisation we shall ... become part of a community hub for issues related to the environment, providing opportunities for local organisations to think about their own actions and becoming a role model for how to become more sustainable.

As this structure emerged in the re-drafting process, I recall thinking how powerful it was to expect everyone involved to have interlocking responsibilities in this way, and the full set of 16 commitments is worth looking at to see the breadth and connectedness of the issues that are set out.

The Education International manifesto stops with its 22 statements.  The NAEE one goes on, however, with three further sections.  The first sets out a set of four principles: "There are a number of recurrent themes across these 16 commitments. These constitute a set of principles which are at the heart of what we think is important for schools and colleges to do in relation to young people’s learning and the environment."  The principles are: partnership, integrity, building capacity and inclusiveness.  These constitute, in précised form, a philosophical stance.

The next section is "The manifesto explained".  This section sets out brief notes for each of the 16 commitments on the thinking behind the manifesto which "should be seen as indications rather than prescriptions".  The manifesto adds that "they might usefully be read alongside the documents produced by the National Governance Association which set out how governing boards can support and challenge senior leadership teams."  This is the only reference in the document.  This takes up almost half the document.

The penultimate section (one page) is an annex to the Introduction which was truncated in order to get readers to the manifesto quickly.  The last page is a word about NAEE itself.

Comparing the two manifestos, I find the NAEE one much the more satisfying because of its holistic focus and because of its pragmatic stance that there is much that can be done rather than just waiting around for government to act.  But then, I am an interested party ...

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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