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Formal education plays an important role raising in awareness and understanding of global issues such as global warming, inequalities in development between States, and international cooperation.
Since the publication of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including "Quality education for all", by the United Nations in 2015, these goals have been adopted nationally in the form of the "2030 Agendas" by local authorities, associations and also by the Ministry of National Education.
Education on sustainable development
From primary school onwards, pupils’ attention is drawn to the question of sustainable development through a range of projects and concrete actions. Such cross-disciplinary education continues over the four years of lower secondary school through the study of scientific notions (such as globalisation) and social phenomena (such as demographic growth and inequalities in development) at a variety of levels: local, regional, European and international alike.
Education on sustainable development was introduced into primary and secondary curricula by two successive circulars:
- The Circular of 8 July 2004: Universalisation of EEDD – Educating for the Environment and Sustainable Development (Education à l’environnement pour un développement durable)
- Circular no.2007-077 of 29 March 2007: EDD – Educating for Sustainable Development (Education au Développement Durable)
- In 2013, the law to reform schools brought such cross-cutting education within the Education Code. In the same year, a labelling scheme, "E3D", for schools and educational establishments taking a global approach to sustainable development was introduced.
- In 2015, during the hosting of COP 21, the Ministry of National Education reinforced the widespread implementation of education on sustainable development.
- In 2019, the creation of eco-delegates;
In primary and secondary education, sustainable development is a major theme which is tackled in an interdisciplinary and cross-cutting way, involving learning such as: development and international solidarity education, health education and artistic and cultural learning.
In lower secondary schools, Interdisciplinary Practical Lessons (Enseignements Pratiques Interdisciplinaires) including "Ecological transition and sustainable development" allow for sustainable development issues to be considered.
Furthermore, local education authorities (decentralised departments of the Ministry of National Education) are encouraged to organise, among other things, debates on the relationship between sustainable development issues and climate change, educational projects, scientific workshops on these topics, in particular in cooperation with local stakeholders involved in sustainable development and environmental education.
Sustainable Development and Education (SDE) is embedded in all school subjects, throughout the different stages of schooling
SDE is incorporated:
- into the existing subjects: issues of sustainable development are introduced into the curriculum and teaching through themes such as water and energy;
- into the national and academic training programmes on offer;
- into the school and educational establishment projects;
- into the production of teaching materials;
- at specific times: outdoor nature classes, educational actions led by partners, etc.
Sustainable development education in the curriculum
In its guidance and proposal note published in December 2019, the High Council for school curricula / Conseil supérieur des programmes emphasized various different aspects:
- “an approach that encompasses all disciplines to include teaching content on sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity, to train pupils in the scientific mindset and develop their awareness of and relationship with the world”.
- “the importance of basing ones thinking on observation, the starting point of the scientific approach”.
- “the need to develop a rational attitude in pupils in their approach to environmental issues.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ volunteering schemes
In addition, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs funds “Youth programmes” designed to train international cooperation professionals. Such programmes are intended for students in their second year of study for a Master’s degree who are interested in international relations and global issues (inequalities in development, global warming, etc.) and would like to work in an international organisation.
Programmes and positions associated with them are as follows:
- Jeune Expert Associé (JEA) or Junior Professional Officer (JPO), at the United Nations.
- Jeune Expert Associé at the World Bank or Junior Professional Officer at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
- Junior Professionals in Delegations (JPD).
Non-formal and informal learning
The structures and associations working in the field of international solidarity play a key role in educating about global issues. Some work together with public institutions and ministries to run programmes for young people, such as the international travel and volunteering schemes.
Volunteering and international mobility schemes
International volunteering plays a key role in raising young people’s awareness of global issues and international solidarity. It is very much encouraged by the public authorities, which develop and oversee international volunteering schemes. Through missions in developing countries and youth projects, volunteering makes young people aware of global issues so enabling them to take part in the public debate.
VSI – International Solidarity Volunteering (Volontariat de solidarité internationale)
VSI is governed by Law no.2005-159 of 23 February 2005 bearing on the VSI contract. It enables any association accredited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to send volunteers on missions in the field of humanitarian cooperation and action.
VIA – International Volunteering in Administration (Volontariat International en Administration)
Intended for young people between 18 and 28 y/o, VIA gives young people the opportunity to work in consulates, embassies or French cooperation and cultural action services. VIA postings last for an average of 18 months. There are over a thousand volunteers in VIA posts every year.
VIE – International Volunteering in Business (Volontariat International en Entreprise)
Introduced by the Law of 14 March 2000, this scheme gives young people between 18 and 28 y/o the opportunity to carry out a professional mission abroad for a period of 6 to 24 months. Although this kind of volunteering has no direct bearing on international solidarity or global issues, there is a wide range of missions, which may be commercial, technical or scientific.
The “Working Holiday” Visa
The “Working Holiday” Visa (WHV) is intended for young people between the ages of 18 and 20 who wish to spend a maximum of one year in a partner country for tourism or cultural purposes, and also have the opportunity to work in the country they go to.
The programme is based on bilateral agreements concluded between France and the scheme’s partner countries: Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Russia, Argentina, Hong Kong, Chili, Colombia, Taiwan, Uruguay and Mexico (entry in force on 1 September 2016).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ calls for projects
Every year, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs launches calls for projects aimed at local authorities. Some of these calls for projects are part of the decentralised cooperation strategy /stratégie de coopération décentralisée (for regional authorities). They aim to promote international travel for young people, such as the “Youth / Jeunesse” call for projects which has been providing financial support since 2015 for international travel projects that involve international solidarity training and action. The “Youth” call for projects enables regional authorities to open up to the world through youth exchange schemes. It also contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 17.The 17th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) relates to “partnerships to meet the goals”. This is a separate goal in Agenda 2030 which concentrates on the means required to meet the 16 other SDGs.
For further information on these schemes, see 9.6 Intercontinental youth work and development cooperation.
The call for International Solidarity Initiatives (ISI)
Due to the current circumstances where cross-border travel is restricted by the Covid-19 crisis, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) has adapted its “International solidarity Initiative (ISI)” from June 2019. This call for projects will now allow young people to continue to get involved in solidarity actions and to “contribute to the development of global citizenship”.
The ISI scheme is supervised by the Cooperation Funds for Youth and Non-formal Education / Fonds de coopération de la jeunesse et de l’éducation populaire (FONJEP). It is based on national and regional multi-partner work involving non-formal education and international solidarity associations.
The ISI aims to provide financial support for intercultural exchanges and the involvement of young people in international solidarity projects. It does this by experimenting with new means of action (not involving travel), such as setting up online projects, virtual discussions and in-person discussions in France in small groups (of young people from France and elsewhere).
This call for initiatives aims to:
- “Encourage young people to get involved and discover the world, particularly those with less awareness and less access”;
- “Allow young people to explore the world differently without crossing borders, by becoming involved in shared solidarity projects that enable them to meet up, discuss and act together”;
- “Encourage experiments into new ways of experiencing international solidarity, through sustainable, solidary and collective actions, relying on innovative responses to the current international crisis”;
- “Allow associations whose daily work does not involve intercultural and international solidarity issues, nor involve young people in particular, to launch their first projects in this area”;
- “Lay the first milestone on the young people’s journeys into international action. This can range from raising awareness of and educating about citizenship and international solidarity (éducation à la citoyenneté et à la solidarité internationale, ECSI), to the young people building common international solidarity projects themselves (JSI-VVVSI), or following this, taking on a more long-term engagement with international issues (civic service, international solidarity volunteering).”
Festivals and participative events
Public and community operators active in promoting international solidarity also raise young people’s awareness of global issues via the organisation of participative events and festivals, such as the Festival of Solidarity (Festival des Solidarités) and forums and encounters organised by local authorities.
The Festival of Solidarities
For the last 20 years, the Festival of Solidarities has been organised by a range of stakeholders engaged in solidarity action on a daily basis: associations, schools, local authorities, sociocultural bodies and citizens. The event brings citizens together and provides them with an opportunity to give collective thought to a fairer, more united and more sustainable world. Themes tackled correspond to global issues defined by the United Nations. The festival is supported by a variety of institutional partners including the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs, and the Ile-de-France Region.
Science Festival (Fête de la science)
Established in 1991, the Science Festival (Fête de la Science) is organised each year by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation to give people the opportunity to discover the world of science and meet scientists. This event features thousands of free events open to everyone, including students (primary school children and lower and upper secondary school students). All fields of science are represented, including "sustainable development". During this festival, events (such as exhibitions, conferences and debates) are held to raise awareness of sustainable development issues and to highlight the role of research in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
As an example, during the 2020 edition of the Fête de la Science, held online for that year, the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon organised a stand to help people discover the 17 SDGs.
International solidarity forums organised by local authorities
Local authorities (municipalities) may also organise their own international solidarity and cooperation forums, during which associations present their activities and get the opportunity to meet with volunteers.
Young people and professionals in education or youth work who want to train or deepen their knowledge of global issues and international solidarity have the opportunity to follow, according to their statutes, training offered by international solidarity associations or training offered by the National Education.
The “E3D” scheme
The E3D scheme is a means of certifying schools that initiate actions falling under the general sustainable development approach.
The targets of the “E3D” label are to:
- improve the SDE projects (Sustainable Development Education) already in place by anchoring them in a overreaching policy for the establishment as a whole;
- Develop partnerships, particularly with the regional interest groups.
All educational establishments running a sustainable development project based on the 4 themes listed below can be considered as a ”E3D - School/Establishment working towards sustainable development / E3D - École/Établissement en démarche de développement durable”:
- School life
- Management and maintenance of the building
- Opening up to the outside world through a partnership
The “E3D” approach can be combined with cross-cutting themes, such as health education, development and international solidarity education, media education or art and culture education.The “E3D” label makes it possible to involve all the school or establishment stakeholders (administration, teachers, staff, pupils, parents) and the project partners, particularly regional authorities.
Training courses provided by the National Education service
The EDUSCOL website, which brings together a number of sites and services providing information and support to professionals working in education, provides teachers with educational resources relating to education on sustainable development.
The open access website compiles information on the themes, issues, tools and partnerships, as well as the teaching methodologies and techniques that teachers can use within the context of education on sustainable development. What is more, educators have the opportunity to receive training on sustainable development through their institution, at the request of the teaching team.
Additionally, National Education service staff also have access to a national resource and skills hub (online) dedicated to development education which differs from EDUSCOL: the website: https://crdp.ac-amiens.fr/edd/index.php/accueil/pole-national-competence-edd
Through this online portal, they can find "information necessary for integrating Sustainable Development into their lessons and school projects". A news section is regularly updated with information on the constant developments in research, teaching practices and events related to this theme.
Campaigns on global issues for youth are mainly about the environment and global warming. For example, the Ministry of National Education organizes "Climate Week" which is part of the desire to mainstream education for sustainable development. Launched in 2015 as part of the COP21, Climate Week mobilises subject-based disciplines, especially the sciences, as well as cross-curricular disciplines, in particular education on sustainable development, scientific and technical culture, moral and civic education, development and international solidarity education and health education.
The Climate Week
The Climate Week was launched in 2015 during the COP21. It mobilises subject teaching, particularly of scientific subjects, as well as cross-disciplinary teaching, notably sustainable development education, scientific and technical culture, moral and civic education, development and international solidarity education and health education.
It aims to address climate change through scientific and civic issues and constitutes a response to the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals, where goal 13 is to “combat climate change”. It involves organising debates, events and simulations of international negotiations on climate change. These debates are organised with regional partners, and with environmental education and sustainable development associations.
Moreover, young people seeking to be educated in or improve their knowledge of global issues and international solidarity can enrol in training courses organised by international solidarity associations. There is a fee for such courses which are designed to inform participants on development aid policy, participation in solidarity action and the issues involved in cooperation with Southern countries. There are a great many associations organising short courses on global issues, and more specifically on inequalities in development, non-violence and peace.
List of associations organising courses (incomplete list)
- Coordination SUD
- CEFODE – Cooperation and Training in Development – North-South Area (Coopération et Formation au Développement, Espace Nord-Sud)
- URD – Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (Urgence réhabilitation développement)
- ICP – French Committee for Civil Peace Interventions (Comité français pour l’intervention civile de paix)
- MAN – Movement for a Nonviolent Alternative (Mouvement pour une alternative non violente)
Additionally, the multi-actor regional networks / réseaux régionaux multi-acteurs (RRMA) (See Cross-sectoral Cooperation), whose aim is to improve international cooperation actions, can offer training in sustainable development or international solidarity education. These training programmes can be for both International Solidarity professionals and young people.
The RRMAs are supported in their missions by the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and by the Regional Councils. 12 RRMAs exist in France today.
Youth-targeted campaigns on global issues essentially concern questions of the environment and climate change. The Ministry of National Education, for example, organises “Climate Week”, an expression of the wish to universalise education on sustainable development. Launched in 2015 in the context of COP21, Climate Week gives free rein to various educational disciplines, the sciences in particular. It takes the form of debates, activities and simulations of international negotiations on climate change. Debates are organised with local partners, associations involved in education on the environment and sustainable development.
Associations play a key role in raising awareness of international solidarity and global issues. Some are partners of public institutions, including the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, one such being EDUCASOL, the French platform for education in citizenship and international solidarity. Educasol provides an open space for promotion of the activities of educators in development and international solidarity. The association also promotes education in development and international solidarity in institutions.
Engagé·e·s et Déterminé·e·s, (E&D / Committed and Determined).
Many youth associations are involved in informing and training people about global issues, such as the network of youth associations for international solidarity known as Engagé·e·s et Déterminé·e·s, (E&D / Committed and Determined).
E&D is a national association for international solidarity and non-formal education that facilitates a network of associations seeking to create solidarity links at international scale. It is made up of associations registered under the law of 1901, led by young people and/or students who have chosen to act in a network. E&D is open to all youth and/or student organisations whose work fits with the E&D charter.
The E&D network includes around sixty associations of young people committed to International Solidarity:
The themes are:
- Citizenship and International Solidarity Education
- health and education
- renewable energies and the environment
- the social and solidarity economy or entrepreneurial economy
- migration and interculturality
- agriculture and food sovereignty
The national association Erasmus Student Network
The national association Erasmus Student Network, IXESN France, fosters civic engagement and cooperation between international students via two theme-based actions:
- Hosting of international students, making use of a sponsorship system between international and French students;
- Promoting international youth mobility.
Biodiversity Centres (Maisons de la Biodiversité)
In addition to formal education, public events and campaigns launched by the ministries concerned and bodies devoted to the protection of nature may also play a role in awareness-raising on global issues. A number of local authorities possess resource centres devoted to nature, such as Maison Paris nature, which holds discovery workshops on the French capital’s flora and fauna with a view to involving its inhabitants in their preservation. Such centres can also take the form of “Maisons de la biodiversité”. Located in public gardens or regional nature parks, these bodies organise educational activities (walks, exhibitions, etc.) connected with nature and designed to raise awareness on its protection.
Comité 21 is a French association for sustainable development whose aim is to transform society into a sustainable model based on Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Comité 21 is developing a network which now includes more than 400 members (businesses, regional authorities, associations, institutions, teaching and research establishments, citizens and the media). Comité 21 is a partner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Many, mostly annual, initiatives are organised by associations, NGOs and public authorities to inform and raise awareness of global issues, such as the fight against climate change and international solidarity and interculturality.
The Solidarity Festival
The Solidarity Festival / Festival des Solidarités has been running for more than 20 years. It is an international meeting point to promote and celebrate international solidarity.
Each year in November, associations, local authorities, schools, socio-cultural organisations, stakeholders in the social economy and citizen collectives organise more than 4 200 events to instil in citizens “of all ages the desire to act for a fair, solidary and sustainable world”. These events take place across France as well as in other countries (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Togo, etc.)
The cultural seasons / saisons culturelles are organised by the Ministry of Culture, in line with the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, and are run by the Institut Français. These cultural events have been part of the policy to support cultural diversity since 1985.
The 2020 cultural season honours the African continent.
The French president announced the Cultural Season “Africa 2020” in November 2017. The event is intended to be multidisciplinary and multifaceted, and will take place across France. The aim is to raise awareness of contemporary Africa and how it was created, by emphasising the role of young people and emerging talents. The season should make it possible to form strong partnerships in several different artistic disciplines, and to encourage cultural entrepreneurship.
The Africa 2020 season also has an educational aspect. It provides an opportunity to work with schools and classes on forming “a modern, dynamic and constructive image of contemporary Africa”.
In September 2017, the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition published a leaflet on biodiversity and its protection entitled La biodiversité s’explique (Biodiversity Explained), which followed on from other leaflets designed to raise the general public’s and young people’s awareness on environmental protection and ecological challenges. Such informatory resources are also compiled in the Ministry’s webzine “Changeons de regard sur la biodiversité” (Let’s change our views on biodiversity), which reports on the wealth of biodiversity in France, in particular in its Overseas territories.
Furthermore, the website and social networks of the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition present the various government strategies to tackle global warming, in particular through animated films, such as its strategy to combat deforestation included in the Climate Plan.
Ministry of National Education an youth websites
The Ministry of National Education has several websites with resources for education on sustainable development: such as the “Discover the World” portal.Dedicated to international youth mobility, in particular for solidary purposes, Découvrir le monde (Discover the World) is a platform created and run by the Ministry responsible for Youth Affairs; it provides young people with information on the possibilities and various aspects of international mobility in general (Erasmus+, the Franco-German and Franco-Quebecois Offices, etc.) and international volunteering in particular.
Teachers and young people have also acess to resources available for education for sustainable development provided by the Ministry in charge of education and partners for education for sustainable development :
CANOPE - Pôle national de ressources pour l'éducation au développement durable/ National resource center for education for sustainable development
Other institutional sites:
Ministry of the Ecological and Inclusive Transition/ Ministère de la Transition écologique et solidaire
Ministry of Agriculture and Food/ Ministère de l'agriculture et de l'alimentation
Unesco and education for sustainable development/ Unesco et éducation au développement durable