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UNESCO partners with organizations in Myanmar to facilitate learning on Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (EPSD)

UNESCO partners with organizations in Myanmar to facilitate learning on Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (EPSD)

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while crucial for global development and sustaining local habitats by 2030, can seem distant from regional realities. How can local communities act on such complex issues in a way that is both aspirational and practical?

Recognizing the challenges implied in pursuing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while facing the complex realities of daily life on the local level, UNESCO has been partnering with community organizations in Myanmar to facilitate learning opportunities on the theme of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (EPSD). UNESCO has facilitated training activities with trainers and management staff from three community learning centres (CLCs) in two regions, on issues related to sustainable development and the Whole School Approach. According to one trainer,  

We have to educate not only youth but all community members to be aware of peace and conflict, gender issues and so on. We have to understand each other, how we should be living together in community peacefully and happily.

In addition, UNESCO trainers have engaged with teachers at CLCs on mainstreaming EPSD into youth development programmes, and delivery of sustainability and equity in a meaningful way, such as training aimed at equipping community teachers with an understanding of EPSD concepts; learning how to identify and evaluate relevant EPSD issues in their own communities; and how to to integrate those concepts in teaching and learning. 

After training and learning sessions, teachers worked on curriculum planning and EPSD mainstreaming in all subject areas. Afterwards, teachers were able to teach youths from rural and remote areas on EPSD-related concepts and competencies. As noted by one such instructor, in addition to the themes of peace, gender, and media and information literacy, skills in critical thinking and problem solving are crucial for meaningful EPSD learning: 

I developed an EPSD training outline, planned detailed training instruction, developed teaching materials and conducted EPSD training to eight teachers. I reflected a lot on the current issues happening in the classroom of my country. We have talked a lot about how we can create an education system that brings peace and sustainable development to our community.

Teachers have also been trained in the Whole School Approach (WSA) which allows an actionable approach to Education for Peace and Sustainable Development involving school staff, students and the wider community. These WSA initiatives are designed to identify and address local sustainability issues. For instance, a practical ‘Green Challenges’ activity of tree-planting was conducted on a school campus in the context of learning the value of sustainability, and how to apply principles of sustainability in daily life. The same training also initiated a ‘Peace Cup’ football match to promote messages of peace to primary school students. As one suvch student has commented of the programme,

The subject I like the most is peace and conflict, because it is important for human beings to socialize and communicate in the community. I understood how to become a good listener. As a school activity, I like exchange visits with other schools, since we can exchange our knowledge and build a network.

While youths thus have learned new concepts pertaining to sustainable development and other relevant themes, and as they have successfully put their learning into action, UNESCO has remained committed to supporting local teachers and educators in their building on their existing capacities, and their enhancing of their professional EPSD development, regardless of their educational setting. In collaboration with these local partners, UNESCO has already developed three EPSD booklets and EPSD online courses which are available on the UNESCO Myanmar Teacher Platform, where they are targeted for an even wider range of education stakeholders. UNESCO continues in collaboration with local partners to strive for quality education for sustainable development with all relevant and localized EPSD activities. 

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