From the 1st to the 4th of December 2020 the 10th edition of the LLLWeek took place, pulling off an outstanding programme around the theme Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Societies. The event entailed 13 events featuring policy makers, representatives from International Institutions and, of course, educational CSOs and practitioners.
SOLIDAR Foundation participated actively for this first online edition as well, organising a Round Table and a workshop on changing the narrative around the SDGs through Global Citizenship Education. The event was organised in cooperation with DARE Network and Bridge 47, and it took place timely one week after the online training organised for SOLIDAR membership, wrapping a year of increasing attention to GCE by SOLIDAR members.
The Round Table was opened by Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the LLLP, who stressed the increasingly important role of informal and non-formal education providers to promote GCE and the relevance of the latter to achieve sustainable societies. She underlined that more attention, including in terms of investments, should be given for advancing accessible education for sustainable development and the LLLP will soon release a position paper that highlights exactly this. The LLLP Director’s intervention was followed by the inputs from three CSOs representatives, providing the policy makers present at the Round Table with insights from practitioners on the ground.
Andrei Frank – SOLIDAR Foundation - kickstarted the round by presenting SOLIDAR Foundation policy paper on GCE, highlighting data such as the latest PISA results, which indicate fundamental gaps in society that GCE can help to bridge. From the academic achievement divide between migrant-background and native people (40% in Germany) indeed, to the fact that only 70% of people were aware of global pandemics as an issue before COVID 19 kicked in, it is clear that the youth is not being prepared for global challenges that they will have to face over the course of their lives. Moreover, GCE is too often addressed as an external dimension policy, for instance in the frame of development cooperation programmes, whereas public policies for GCE shouldn’t be only better funded but also conceived in a policy coherent frame that aims at multi-stakeholder implementation.
Nils-Eyk Zimmermann from DARE Network provided further insights from civil society by mentioning that there is more to intercultural learning than what policy makers normally see – there is the need to appreciate the global interconnectedness to achieve sustainability and GCE serves exactly this purpose. CSOs being the actors implementing it the most, they should be supported to accomplish even a greater outreach and act complementary to the formal education policies. The round of CSOs intervention was concluded by Francesca Minniti, representing CONCORD Europe. Francesca underlined that the current approach to E&T policies lack a focus on equality and inclusion as for leaving no one behind. GCE can be the way to achieve the SDGs and place EU as well as global citizens at the core of the process. However, better recognition, political support, and dedicated policy for GCE should be put in place along with adequate funding. Francesca expresses her concerns regarding the delay of the EU to address this, and she makes the case for investing in the current political infrastructure to create the space for GCE actions and decisions, especially while GCE practitioners showed a very prompt reaction to the needs expressed by communities during the pandemic. GCE practices emerged as a fundamental tool to overcome the health and social crisis beyond the pandemic, GCE should not be forgotten but boosted to achieve sustainable societies.
MEP Evin Incir, S&D Group, reacted to the CSOs inputs by seconding the idea that GCE should be a means but also a goal itself as it unfolds as a double process at once. For successful participation though, she emphasizes that the whole society has to be included - formal, non-formal and informal education have to be able to equally contribute to the promote of GCE. Peer campaigning and awareness-raising actions can be key to this end, as well as policy coherence. GCE cannot rely on projects-based funding but be supported by domestic and foreign policies in a coherent manner.
Following MEP Evin Incir’s intervention is Agata Sobiech’s, representing DG DEVCO. Ms Sobiech has worked on the DEAR Programme for years and shares with participants to the Round Table the need to see how to adapt the programme to the new challenges emerged. Global education should definitely be part of this adaptation. Indeed, the DEAR Programme has proven to be a successful tool to increase awareness on sustainable development, and to support active engagement for people to act at the local level understanding the global consequences of their acitons. Among the innovations that needed for the programme to upscale its impact though, Agata Sobiech’s mentions the need to expand the multi-stakeholder approach. Moreover, it is necessary that all programmes taken together ensure a consistent policy approach, starting from Erasmus+, Europe for Citizens and of course DEAR. A starting point can be found in the Council conclusions on youth in external action, which mentions GCE as an important element for a comprehensive approach to youth in external action.
During the second and final round of remarks, MEP Evin Incir welcomed the suggestion from the panel for an INI Report on GCE with her colleagues in the CULT Committee, while Agata Sobiech underlined the importance to boost the debate at the level of local communities to address the regressive rhetoric of the far-right agenda and promote a global approach to citizenship education for sustainable development. Francesca Minniti seconded the idea of going local to achieve a widespread understanding and impactful action for GCE.
The Round Table was followed by a workshop run by Natalia Kouhartsiouk from Bridge 47, which provided the opportunity for smaller group discussions on some of the main topics addressed during the RoundTable and offered the space for interactive reflection on opportunities and challenges for education and learning, in view of the current health, environmental, social and economic issues we are facing. The focus of the workshop has been on what it means to be interconnected at a global level, and those values, competencies and skills of transformative education that underpin our role and responsibilities as citizens of the world were the drivers for participants interactions. The workshop also engaged participants in conversations around the ways GCE and transformative education can shift the narrative surrounding SDGs and be the cornerstone of a strategy to achieve a sustainable future for all, particularly in the context of the recovery from the pandemic.