Implementing SDGs Globally – an internationally-oriented course for students

In March – April 2023 UNESCO IITE and UK-based company Nisai Group conducted a course titled “Implementing SDGs Globally” for 40 students of middle school (aged 11-16) from across Europe, Asia and Africa, including learners from a variety of schools in Russia, South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, and Bangladesh.

Since 2019, after UNESCO IITE signed a Project Agreement  with Nisai Group to implement the Initiative on “Transforming teaching and learning at schools for achieving SDG 4: turning theory into practice with ICT” in the Russian Federation, there have been several events held annually. For example, the All-Russian schools’ competitions on SDGs in 2020 and 2021. 

The purpose of the Course

One of the main objectives of the project is to support global communication, bringing together students from many countries to share their experiences and opinions from their cultural points of view on how to attain SDGs. It is of utmost significance to engage young people with their future, discussing with them ways in which they can contribute to implementing SDGs, recognizing the difference that they can make, the interconnectedness, and the importance of working together to be able to achieve these goals. 

The short course consisted of four sessions designed to allow learners to engage with the SDGs and consider their role as global citizens.  

The content of the Sessions

The sessions were centered around four main topics:

  • The first session addressed Climate Change and Pollution, where students were acquainted with statistics concerning plastic pollution and were presented with case studies illustrating the correlation between ground, water, and soil pollution and its impact on human health. They were also provided with insights on how individual efforts such as water conservation, reduction of plastic usage, and utilization of environmentally-friendly products can positively impact society. 
  • The second session focused on Gender Inequalities. This particular session delved into the implications of gender disparities using relevant examples drawn from celebrity culture and everyday life. The participants were introduced to the concept of the “glass ceiling,” while also discussing pertinent issues such as pay disparity and the critical role of educating girls in addressing the problem of inequality.
  • In the third session, the focus was directed toward SDG 1 with a particular emphasis on the strategies necessary to achieve the goal of Poverty Eradication. The students examined the interrelationship between poverty and inadequate access to education, clean water, and food resources. Furthermore, the discourse encompassed the significance of charity funds and government support and the importance of helping those in need to combat poverty.
  • The fourth session was dedicated to the theme of Good Health and Well-being. The students deliberated on the impact of unhealthy habits, specifically smoking and the use of hazardous substances, on their overall health and well-being. Furthermore, the importance of responsible consumption of prescribed medication, the importance of transparent communication, and the merit of a supportive social system were among the topics explored. The discourse also encompassed communicable diseases and the existence of prejudice surrounding certain conditions.

Action plan – what can we do?

Furthermore, organizers held an additional fifth event – a brainstorming workshop, where students were able to take the initiative themselves, talking about their personal experiences, sharing with others about the regulations of their countries, and generating new ideas about how they could individually contribute to implementing SDGs in the four areas they discussed previously. They also formulated what actions are required on both local and global levels. The result of this session was a concise action plan with particular steps they had proposed – locally and globally – that the students could share with others and use themselves.