On a panel at the virtual gathering delving into the role of SDGs in international education on June 21, three principals of international schools in Vietnam, Israel and the UAE discussed how pupils and staff were working towards incorporating SDGs into their everyday curriculums.
“Our identity with the UN as part of who we are and our connection to it is incredibly important to us,” said Megan Brazil, elementary principal of United Nations International School of Hanoi.
“The way we continue that is through the curriculum and service learning – we cross-reference every single SDG with units of study across the primary years program.
“One example would be our grad six program – how can we support wildlife in Vietnam? We took students to a national park, we asked them how they can take action, and raise awareness,” Brazil explained.
Lawrence Myers, the head of the American School of Dubai, takes a more classroom-based approach, but still strives for the same effectiveness to really implement the goals into the curriculum.
“We take a more micro approach, so it’s done in smaller groups within the classroom – curricular service learning is what we try and do to the best of our ability.
“There is an overriding need for schools to recognise that really, the reason they’re there is not to teach maths, to teach social studies – they’re there to build human beings who are capable of contributing to the world and becoming global citizens,” said Myers.
He also mentioned the debate on weighing student learning and the idea of contributing to the community – and that teachers and administrators often say the focus should solely be on student learning.
“We need the students to take that learning and actually make it an actionable thing”
“Given how close we are to 2030 [when SDGs are supposed to be met], we don’t really have the benefit of just focusing on the student learning – we need the students to take that learning and actually make it an actionable thing,” Myers insisted.
Nalini Cook, head of research EMEA at ISC Research, chairing, stressed the importance of meeting those SDGs by the year 2030, as stipulated by the UN.
“All international schools should be bringing the SDGs into their vision and mission if we are to succeed in making change for our world. Whether we like it or not, we set the bar for other education institutions,” Cook said.
“That means taking the responsibility and sharing our practise wherever and whenever we can,” she added.