United Nations… and Marek Kakaščík

In this week's innovation story, the United Nations Association of Bulgaria will tell us more about how they build on their experience with young people to raise interest in SDGs.

We live in a time known as the time of the largest youth population in the world. Considered to be our world’s biggest treasure and seen as pure potential, young people have become the main area for investment.

In UNA Bulgaria we strongly believe that young people should be completely and actively involved in the co-creation of their own present and future by proposing innovative solutions, driving social progress and inspiring political change. According to statistics in Bulgaria in 2018 we had nearly 320 thousand young people aged between 15-19, who will make the difference in thinking and acting for the future. Now, more than ever, is the right time to build values and habits important for the future.

This is why we thought of ways to make the SDGs understandable and bring them closer to young people. We found the answer in one of our organisation’s best practices for developing a global mindset and attitudes - the Model UN and turning it into a tool for developing deeper understanding and sensitivity towards contributing to our world’s sustainable development. Talking about students implementing the SDGs and teachers proactively incorporating them into their educational approach and management practices gave birth to this project.

The project aims to develop in students and teachers skills to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the SDGs in the educational content and the management practices and in this way contributing to gathering good practices for this as well as coming up with new ones to be promoted in even more schools.

At this stage, an expert is developing a reporting tool through which the schools will be able to self-evaluate to what extent they implement the SDGs in the school life. The teachers and the students will collect together the information through the reporting tool. The reports will take into account the education content and the management processes to explore to what extent they incorporate the SDGs and Agenda 2030 principles (i.e. recycling in the school, gender equality, reducing inequalities etc.). This will replicate the process of the Voluntary National Reviews which measures the progress of the countries related to the achievement of the SDGs.

All schools participating in the project will select one teacher and one student who will take part in a 3-day meeting in Sofia - an SDGs Summit simulation for the students and a parallel seminar for the teachers.

The students will report the collected information on behalf of their school during a SDG Summit simulation, duplicating the process in which countries report their progress on the SDGs in the UN SDG Summit. Аs a result of the SDGs Summit, the students will develop an outcome from the meeting - a resolution with new ideas on how to integrate the SDGs in the school life and the role of the students in the process. The ideas will be used to further develop and complete the good practices already gathered and reported by the schools in order to be put into the final publication and later disseminated.

At the same time, the teachers will be involved in a training seminar for new and useful tools, exchange best practices how to incorporate the SDGs principles in the school life. This exchange of practices will inspire new actions in the local realities of the participants.

The SDGs Summit organised for both students and teachers will act as a platform to exchange best practices and a space for the empowerment of the students to introduce more youth-led SDGs driven initiatives in their schools and for teachers to incorporate them into their curricula and management practices.

All of the identified good practices in the school reports and the further discussed ideas for implementing the SDGs in the school life will be collected in a final publication, which will be printed and used for dissemination online and offline among schools and organisation, who might be interested in applying the practices.

The project “SDGs Power to Empower Youth Action” develops the capacities of students and teachers to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the SDGs in their school life regarding education activities and management practices. In this way they will be able to identify the implications of the SDGs in their everyday practices, draw connections between indicators and actions, and strive to incorporate more effectively the SDGs.

The project methodology creates space for the participants to learn by doing, to share good practices and evaluate the level of the implementation of the SDGs in their school environment.

About the Author

Marek Kakaščík

Position: Innovation and Communications Trainee
Marek assists Bridge 47 with the national work in Slovakia and with communications of our sub-granting mechanism.

United Nations Association of Bulgaria

UNA Bulgaria has been working with Global Citizenship Education for over 10 years within its UN Club Network through non-formal education trainings for students and teachers, peer to peer education and UN Model simulations. Since 2015, they have been working actively to raise awareness among the students and build capacity in the teachers to implement the SDGs.