9.4 Raising awareness about global issues
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Global education has its place both at school and outside it; therefore, global education is promoted as a type of formal learning as well as a kind of informal and non-formal learning. Fingo, a non-governmental organisation active in coordinating a global education network comprising more than 100 organisations in Finland and in training teachers for global education, has offered a definition for global education: 'Global education is understood widely as an activity guiding people’s joint responsibility worldwide. The topics of global education include for example: human rights, sustainable development, diversity, peace, media literacy and the environment.'
In basic education, in classes 7–9 (meaning 15–16 years old in Finland) global education themes are initially included in different subjects, such as in geography, which is an obligatory subject, or 'Volunteering' which is occasionally available locally as a voluntary course. In geography, for example, the National Core Curriculum (2014) highlights how 'Interaction between nature and human beings as well as its connection to the state of the environment are discussed in the teaching and learning, and a foundation is laid for understanding different regional views and conflicts on Earth.'
Secondly, for classes 7–9, there are several obligatory learning modules reaching so called 'transversal competences.' One of these transversal modules is called 'Participation, involvement and building a sustainable future.' In that module, 'concrete actions and cooperation projects for the good of the environment and other people expand the pupils’ sphere of responsibility.' The idea is that the pupils begin to form an understanding of how knowledge and skills acquired at school can be used in building a sustainable future.
Around half of the pupils completing their basic education continue to vocational education and training (VET, see Finnish VET in a Nutshell) and half to general upper secondary education. In August 2021, when a new National Core Curriculum for General Upper Secondary Schools was taken into use, the General Secondary Schools now offers a continuum to basic education for learning more about global themes. There are six transversal competence areas, including one called 'Global and Cultural Competence' (see Core curriculum for general upper secondary schools in a nutshell).
For the vocational education the Finnish National Agency for Education doesn’t prepare a national curriculum but the national qualification requirements for vocational qualifications. Vocational learning units are either compulsory or optional. Students can complete entire qualifications, parts of them or smaller units, or combine parts of different qualifications based on their needs. For all students there is a compulsory learning unit for sustainable development, which is planned to be developed further in the year 2022.
Global perspectives are also received through international student mobility which is quite popular in Finland among both the general and vocational secondary school students. Beyond the curriculums and qualification requirements, global issues are also mentioned on Acts regulating the workings of the education branch.
When it comes to non-formal learning in general, and especially to youth work and the actions of non-governmental organisations in the youth field subsidised by the state, one of the aims of the Youth Act is to promote non-discrimination and equality among young people and the realisation of their rights. The principles of solidarity, cultural diversity, internationality, sustainable development, healthy lifestyles, respect for life and the environment are to be followed in actions based on the Act.
There are many options that support educators in global education both in formal and non-formal education and often those possibilities are funded and promoted by the Finnish National Agency for Education. For example the Global Education Network organises training, workshops and offers information and methods online, see Tools for Global Citizenship. Some of them are specifically targeted at education providers and teachers, who carry out the goals of the national core curriculum related to global education. The network is coordinated by Fingo, which acts as a national umbrella organisation for about three hundred Finnish Development NGOs and an expert on global development issues. The Finnish League for Human Rights offers tailored training days on human rights education based on the needs of each profession, including teachers and youth workers, the training of youth workers is for example funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture. 'The World in 2030' (in Finnish) is global education material for schools and educational institutions provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Additionally, there are rising amount of 'informal' 'fourth sector' campaigns, such as Cleaning Day and Restaurant Day, in which young people are often active participants and organisers. These events have an environmental aspect as well and they are extremely popular among young people. Therefore, their role related to disseminating information is significant, although they are not directly funded and conducted by top-level authorities. 'Don’t buy anything' (in Finnish) of the Finnish Nature League and WWF Finland’s (in Finnish) Earth Hour (in Finnish) are also implemented in schools, educational institutions, youth work, youth organisations, but young people participate those also in private at varying degrees.
The World Village Festival is a festival, which has been organised every year since 1995. The festival is popular, attended by approximately 80 000 visitors annually before the COVID-19 epidemic. The World Village Festival is one of the most visible events of the year that raises awareness about global issues. The purpose of this festival is to organise and offer a platform for talks, workshops, discussions, films, music and food from all over the world. According to the website, the festival offers new perspectives on tolerant multiculturalism, development cooperation, global issues and expanding one's possibilities for affecting everyday life. The theme of the festival in 2022 is The boundaries of our planet. The main organiser of the World Village Festival is Fingo and its main partners include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Commission Representation in Finland. Anyone who is over 18 years old can volunteer at the event. Young people are actively participating in volunteering in other occasions related to globalisation also, for more information, see Youth Wiki/Finland 9.5 Green volunteering, production and consumption).
Despite the aforementioned materials to be used in schools, educational institutions, youth work or non-governmental organisations with young people and the campaigns and events such as the World Village Festival, there is not such a youth-targeted information campaign organised or funded by the state on global issues which could be mentioned. It can even be said that nowadays it’s young people themselves who are campaigning on global issues in order to wake up the older generations, and often these campaigns are international, see 'Key initiatives' later in this chapter.
As mentioned earlier, there are regulations that insist that those working with young people ought to disseminate information concerning global issues among young people.
During the Gutsy Go - Make Peace Visible weeks in schools, young people create solutions to various problems within their own community. The projects are filmed, and the videos are posted online for reference to promote further actions and for use as teaching material. The goal over the next few years is to work with schools in applying this method to the entire 14-year-old age group, involving about 50,000 young people annually. Gutsy Go is a non-profit organisation. From top-level authorities, the Ministry of Justice and the Parliament of Finland are collaborators in this initiative.
Fridays for Future: The Finnish Broadasting Company YLE asked three young people about the reasons why they are participating in climate strike: 'Kysyimme syistä ilmastolakkoilla – näin nuoret vastasivat: - Se on voimannäytön hetki, jolla näytetään, että ihmiset oikeasti välittää tästä asiasta' ('We asked why they are striking against climate change – this was how young people answered: - This is the moment to show power, to show that people really care about this matter.' (YLE News 24.9.2021)
Operation A Day´s Work is organised annually, by an organisation called ODW Finland. For this event, Finnish pupils and students spend a day working and donate their pay for projects that improve the conditions of children and young people in developing countries. This allows Finnish youth to help their peers in some of the poorest countries in the world, while also catching a glimpse of what working life is like. See the campaign 2020–2021 called Right To Be Me, to support student councils and youth in Nepal. The actions of ODW Finland are supported by Finland’s development cooperation.