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Climate change

Educating for sustainable development

by Claire O’Carroll, Development Education Officer
Trócaire’s Development Education team is taking part in an EU-funded project Millennium Development Goals ’15 to promote justice, development and sustainability issues in post-primary schools. 
Project partners participate in yearly study exchange visits in which a member of each NGO travels to a partner country with a group of educators in order to share good practice and develop new skills and resources. This year Trócaire is privileged to be partnered with Belgian NGO, Studio Globo.
Last month, I joined a team of teachers and lecturers (of subjects including Art, Irish and Civic, Social and Political Education) in Brussels to learn about Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This is a process which aims to equip students and teachers to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.  It focuses on linking local attitudes to global solutions. 
The ESD delegation visited two schools in the Flanders region which are working closely with Studio Globo. We saw the dedication of both students and staff in their many campaigns on social justice issues. 
trocaire development education workshop
Students from Herk de Staad school demonstrating the MDG game they devised for primary school students
It was amazing to see how the quest for justice permeated throughout the schools’ ethos, not just as part of the citizenship education slot in the timetable. In these schools, active civic participation was integrated in a whole-school approach, led by democratic and transparent student councils. 
Both schools are running sustainability projects, looking at what they can do at a local level to conserve the environment. One school is focussing on the negative effects of meat production, the other on campaigning on climate change issues both abroad and in Flanders.
The trip provided a space for Belgian and Irish teachers to share good practice and visit sustainable projects. The Irish delegation returned with renewed energy to work on projects promoting a sustainable lifestyle within their schools.
Trócaire is also part of the Green-Schools initiative, an international environmental education programme, environmental management system and award scheme that promotes and acknowledges long-term, whole school action for the environment.
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