From 29 November to 1 December 2021, UNESCO and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) brought together 1,600 policy makers, academics and education practitioners to discuss progress in implementing transformative education for sustainable development, global citizenship, health and well-being (Sustainable Development Goal 4 Target 7). Among them, ASPnet National Coordinators and members from all over the world, who presented key insights from their national and international work, highlighting the network as a key driver for innovation and educational transformation.
Ms Taka Horio, ASPnet National Coordinator of Japan, spoke about progress at country level and presented findings from a recent study, which showed that being an ASPnet member increased momentum to work on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and that ASPnet teachers develop curricula that enable students to be aware of "glocal" problems, seek out collaborative teaching strategies and become more creative in their approaches. Further, the study showed that the network has a positive impact on students, including greater motivation to learn and enhancement of key skills, such as critical thinking, communication and collaboration, as well as attitudes and values, such as a shared sense of humanity. Findings also indicated that students are more likely to envision a perspective change for building a sustainable society rooted in interdependence, diversity, cooperation and responsibility.
Dr Jinan Karameh Chaya, Principal at Al Manar Modern School in Lebanon spoke on "Curricula, Pedagogy and Assessment" and presented different curricular and extra-curricular activities at her school, such as working through partnerships with NGOs to integrate ESD themes, strengthening teacher collaboration to enhance socio-emotional learning, developing a wellness club and establishing a student council. Dr. Chaya underlined the benefit of being part of international programmes and exchanges, which give students and teachers opportunities for authentic global learning as well as possibilities to share their initiatives and achievements.
Mieke van Ingelghem, Lecturer at UC Leuven Limburg Teacher Education in Belgium presented a global best practice for a session on "Teacher preparedness". The post-graduate programme "International Educating Class" is built on UNESCO's Four Pillars of Education (learning to know, learning to be, learning to do and learning to live together) and through a 5-step approach they foster key competencies of transformative education: listening for deep understanding, questioning for deep understanding, complex system modelling, co-creation /envisioning futures and participation in action taking with purpose. Ms van Ingelghem underlined the importance of preparing students to create the change themselves and therefore to engage them in authentic learning situations including international, multidisciplinary and transcultural activities, such as through the "Teaching together Global Citizenship for Sustainable Development" project.
Dr Jim Taylor, Research Associate, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, who is one of the lead experts in the ASPnet Change Initiative, chaired this inspiring session on "Teacher preparedness", connecting the work UC Leuven Limburg Teacher Education is undertaking as an example of implementing the vision and recommendations set out in the UNESCO report "Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education". Second panelist of the session, Dr Dy Samsideth, Deputy Director General for Education, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, provided a comprehensive policy case from Cambodia and highlighted the key role of teachers in empowering students to make their decisions in life.
Dr Taylor also shed light on the question "What makes a transformative learning experience for global citizenship, sustainable development, health and well-being?" through video contributions by ASPnet student teachers, teacher educators and experts.
Congratulations to these ASPnet pioneers and all those ASPnet members driving innovation and transformation to create educational opportunities that will allow us to take meaningful action to build for more just, peaceful and sustainable societies.