9.4 Raising awareness about global issues
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Sustainable development is a cross-curricular attainment target.
Secondary schools are not expected to solve sustainability issues, but they have to offer opportunities for self-development to students. These opportunities enable young people to look for solutions with each other. Regarding the characteristics of sustainability issues, the cross-curricular attainment targets focus on:
- learning to think in terms of systems and to look at problems from different perspectives
- the fact that sustainability issues have local and global characteristics
- knowledge and understanding, but also the development of values and norms
- the importance of an adequate individual lifestyle if young people want to look for solutions for sustainability issues
- participation in the societal debate
- the understanding that sustainable development is a continuous learning process
Furthermore, there is the project MOS (Milieuzorg Op School, Environmental Care on School) of the Flemish Department of Environment and Spatial Development. The MOS-project supports primary and secondary schools in making schools environmentally friendly and in providing a sustainable learning and living environment.
The Flemish Government supports projects and initiatives in all kinds of areas which will make sure that sustainable choices are deliberate choices.
The Flemish Department of Environment and Spatial Development focuses on pilot projects regarding Education for Sustainable Development and care for nature. A platform and working groups for ‘green’ education in formal and non-formal education exists, i.e. in youth work. A whole series of actions are organised, e.g. to stimulate green camps, green infrastructure, more nature to play in, playing in woods….
In Flanders, there are various types of educational materials on sustainable development that were developed by Flemish-funded youth organisations, such as Globelink, JNM (Youth Federation for Nature and Environment), Studio Globo, the Flemish Youth Support Centre, Mediaraven.
Furthermore, the project MOS offers teaching materials, information and training to teachers of secondary schools. MOS belongs to a global network of schools that work towards environmental care and sustainability.
Youth organisations whose core activities concentrate on topics related to youth and the world
The Flemish Parliament Act of 20 January 2012 supports and subsidises different organisations, such as national organised youth associations, associations information and participation and associations cultural education. It also provides the funding of organisations that focus on sustainability. The Flemish Government registers which organisations indicate in their annual report to work on sustainability.
Thick Sweater Day
Thick Sweater Day (Dikke truiendag) is an awareness raising campaign organised by the Flemish Government.
In 2005, the project MOS (Milieuzorg Op School, Environmental Care at School) of the Department of Environment and Spatial Development organised the first Thick Sweater Day in response to the Kyoto Protocol. The protocol’s objective was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
Since 2005, Thick Sweater Day has reminded us of the agreements made under this crucial treaty with a few simple activities: wear a warm sweater and turn down the heat, take your bike more often, eat locally grown food, reduce standby power and so on. On Thick Sweater Day Flanders massively reduced CO2 emissions as well as raised awareness of school-going children, businesses and the authorities.
National Children’s Rights Day
On 20 November, it is National Children’s Rights Day. There are a lot of activities to promote the understanding of children’s rights.
In Flanders, the Flemish Office of the Children’s Rights Commissioner (see 4.2.2) also presents its annual report on this day.
Campaign ‘Work for Change’ by YOUCA
YOUCA, Youth for Change and Action – formerly known as “Zuiddag” – is an organisation, supported by the Flemish Government, for and by young people that encourages them to work together towards a sustainable and just society. They do this by making them aware of important social challenges and by supporting them in their commitment. In addition, we provide unique encounters with impact on cultural, business and public life.
Each year in October there is the YOUCA Action Day. On that day, more than 15,000 young people from Flanders and Brussels commit themselves to work for a day for a company, an organisation, a government or a private individual. The wages they earn on that day go to projects of committed young people all over the world.
No Hate Speech Movement
The No Hate Speech Movement is a campaign for online human rights and against fear for young people who want to stop discrimination and hate speech online. The campaign started in 2013 and was initiated by the Council of Europe but it is based on national campaigns which are run in the member states of the Council of Europe. National committees operate their own national online Campaign platforms and online tools.
In Flanders, the No Hate Speech Movement Flanders, supported by the Division Knowledge and policy and youth organisations, calls on young people, youth workers, teachers, parents… and sensitize, train and support them to take actions against (online and offline) hate speech (No Hate Speech Movement Vlaanderen). A No Hate Speech Platform has been created to provide some tips and advise.
GoodFood@School is an initiative of Rikolto, Fairtrade Belgium and GoodPlanet that helps school integrate a healthy and sustainable food policy. Their goal is to ensure a healthy and sustainable food policy in all Flemish schools. Both in the kitchen and in the classroom. The underlying idea is that food at school can make our nutrition more environmentally responsible, fairer and healthier. Such projects are believed to be necessary if we want to feed the growing world population in a sustainable manner. The initiative involves the development of school food councils and school food labs.
The youth organisation Globelink disseminate information and raise the awareness of young people about global issues through different leisure time projects, such as:
- Kras for schools
- Ecoshizzel for animated playgrounds and youth camps
- 9400 Toeren, a project on mobility, for youth associations
The Flemish Youth Council
The UN representatives of the Flemish Youth Council launched the project and toolkit “Flemish youth 4 global goals” (only in Dutch). The toolkit explains the Global Goals for Sustainable Development to young people and youth organisations. The Flemish Youth Council believes that the Global Goals for Sustainable Development are important for young people and hopes that these goals will motivate the Flemish Government to work towards a sustainable world for young people and youth organisations. The toolkit has been updated in 2018.
The UN representatives of the Flemish Youth Council also offer a workshop on sustainability to teachers and students of upper secondary education.
Youth work fights for social change. In 2015 and 2016, the Ambrassade has launched the initiative “Attention for poverty” (Oog voor armoede) to stimulate youth organisations to make a difference for children in poverty. In 2017, they introduced a guide to facilitate the dialogue between youth workers and guiders of children, young people and families in poverty. The guide provides youth workers with good examples and tips to stimulate them to engage in a dialogue with organisations working on poverty.
The Ambrassade also coordinates What (WAT WAT), a project commissioned by the Flemish Government. WAT WAT aims to provide young people between 11 and 24 years old with information on different topics for young people, including environment and sustainability. The goal is to tackle the fragmentation of initiatives, websites and campaigns targeted at young people.
See also youth-targeted information campaigns on global issues.
The Department of Environment and Spatial Development of the Flemish Government
The Department is responsible for environmental education and provides training for teachers and lecturers. It also offers projects such as MOS and Ecocampus. These projects supports schools to make schools an environment-friendly and sustainable learning environment.