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With this and following a short self-presentation of participants, Stella Williams as moderator gave the floor to Tobias Troll, the Project Manager of the new DEEEP Project. He echoed some of the historical perspectives of Paul Jacobs by emphasising how some uncritically used concepts such as poverty, typically used from a 'Northern' perspective, had at times had perverse effects on development studies and practice. In particular, it had reduced for some time the perspective on financial means, paying little attention to culture, citizenship and other resources of societies.

He challenged traditional development approaches based on ideas of a "powerful giver - grateful receiver". Likewise, the first six Millennium Development Goals remain a technocratic response to a global crisis, accepting moreover that not all humanity, but some percentage of this or that subgroup had the rights to essential services, such as education, health care and clean water and basic sanitation. While these were laudable goals, they did invite the question of who would decide on who was in or out. Moreover, they were by themselves not achievable without MDG 7 "environmental sustainability" and MDG 8 "A global partnership".

He referred to the work of CONCORD, the apex organisation representing some 1800 non-governmental organisations in national platforms and networks in 27 European Union Member States. The CONCORD DARE Forum operates the development education and awareness raising working group of the confederation. It focused on the need for a global civil society and for citizens to engage with development to achieve the legitimacy required for broad-based consensus and steering change. Public engagement is considered essential to open a deliberative space, to enable dialogue, mutual learning, participation and purposeful interaction of citizens.

The enrichment of currently accepted paradigms to underpin international cooperation in the future consists of the following reformulation:

  • Citizen's empowerment for change is a central principle of a Human Rights Based Approach to development
  • Policy Coherence for Development can only be effective if supported by public mobilisation
  • The public needs to critically assess aid and development and thus contribute to the principle of development effectiveness.

CONCORD, is promoting these principles and has been working on global education for some time. The new DEEEP project, just started in earnest a few days ago, will instill new impetus into these debates and work for citizens' empowerment for global justice. It will build on the previous work on education, awareness and efforts to eradicate poverty. It will require a lot of critical reflection, new thinking and practice to open spaces for global education and citizenship around the world.

Maria del Carmen Patricia Morales from the University of Leuven spoke about “Rethinking sustainability from the perspective of an ethics of solidarity and diversity”. Her starting point was the paradigm shift brought about by the Brundtland Commission and the Club of Rome. These pathbreaking collaborations shifted the dominant egocentric concepts into an ecological direction, where humans are not the centre of the universe, but part of the life support system Earth.

Integrating ethics into these ecological perspectives leads to a different view of categories “we” and “others”. Expanding that view into the future should help overcome the current boundaries of the human condition and lead to more responsible behaviour. Being aware of the rights of the other is not only a way to discover “the other”, but also to discover ourselves. “The other” does not only include the whole of humanity, but also nature.

We have made quite some progress to give ethics greater room. That war is considered a bad thing is new. It was not so in most of human history. Slavery is now banished almost everywhere. One could cite other advances of civilisations. However, much of our practice is not coherent with these advances and falls short of the accepted principles. What catalisers can we think about to accelerate transitions to systematic adoption of ethics and sustainability?

We can thus be moderately optimistic, however, welfare is not universal and that's a big problem.

Kari Kivinen from Finland is the Secretary General of the European Schools and a committed teacher paying as much attention to the academic achievements of the pupils as to their social skills and civic engagement. In this role he is interested to ensure that useful pedagogical initiatives benefit all pupils, not only a small group. Looking back at the last decades in the education system, Kari Kivinen noted that education focused on facts the 1980s, was mostly normative-based in the 1990s and has become more pluralistic in the new century.

Education for sustainable development (ESD) has evolved out of environmental teaching. ESD allows every human being to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and volues necessary to shape sustainable futures. Objectives today are the empowerment of the pupils, so as to increase their readiness to take their own decisions; the competence to act and the encouragement of entrepreneurial spirit. ESD requires participatory teaching and learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take action in favour of sustainable development. Core competences promoted are critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and collaborative decision making.

There is a good crop of international and European policy documents supporting ESD. Recent examples are the Bonn Declaration, UNESCO, March 2009, the 2009 Review of the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development, and even more recently the Rio+20 Conference, UN, June 2012. No matter how good the declarations and strategies are, it remains a challenge to translate their principles and orientations into the syllabus and the daily efforts in the European Schools.


We are concerned not only that the pupils learn about the principles of sustainable living, but that they do what they have learnt: Working for the public good based on critical thinking they should learn at school.

As teachers working with young people, we are constantly asking ourselves, how to make this happen. We need to provide them with the tools to understand and take care of the world in which we live in and which they will shape in the future.

As recently as February 2013, a decision was taken to create a working group composed of teachers, students and school inspectors on how to establish that type of sustainability practice in school. It has already started to analyse the syllabus and the good principles from early education. But the members are also asking themselves whether this is enough.

The European school teachers want to protect the bottom line, respect nature and “others”. Kids love nature as a default position and the school should protect and consolidate that positive attitude.

What seems to work? What is important is that everybody can participate, not only a priviledged few:

  • e.g. recycling works for all ages, but it works only, if all adults do it too!

  • theme weeks seem to work well;

  • lighthouse projects such as the twinning Mundus maris enabled between an arts class of the European School in Uccle, Belgium, and the CEM in Kayar, Senegal, is valuable, but should be taken to a larger scale, through the exhibition of works from both teams enabled to share the proceeds and experience more widely;

  • rice day to for fund raising for social projects;

  • debates that help hone critical thinking and developing consistent arguments;

  • children-to-children activities;

  • all kinds of activities helping to green the school and daily lives ... from solar panels on the roofs, saving materials etc., but in addition, it is important to promote activities for practicing solidarity concretely.

The moderator introduced Aliou Sall, a Senegalese socio-anthropologist with more than two decades of experience in the fisheries of the country and West Africa. He coordinated testing teaching aids for introducing an ecosystem approach to fisheries in 10 schools in Senegal and Gambia. The development and testing of the teaching kits was work carried out for the FAO's EAF Nansen Project and followed up by Mundus maris.

These pilots were carried out in collaboration with schools in fishing communities, which were very much embedded in their local context. They started with a needs assessment of the schools in relation to communication means already in use and others which were considered desirable. As a result, the development of the teaching aids then sought to make available scientific knowledge in teaching formats, which incorporated traditional culture, such as theatre, with class-based and excursion-based exercises. The content focused on five interdependent principles. They are:

  • maintaining ecosystem integrity (no fish is an island);

  • promoting precautionary approach to fisheries and other use of marine and coastal ecosystems and respecting the rules;

  • ensuring broad stakeholder participation;

  • promoting sectoral integration and safeguarding livelihoods;

  • investing in research and knowledge.

Drama and role plays turned out as perhaps the most important tools to address conflict between different practices and perspectives met during the exercises as well as for appropriating new content.

Mundus maris is also exploring other ways to build bridges between still lively traditions and modern knowledge in ways that are intended to give access to the best of both to the young people. There are e.g. challenges on how to rescue ethnoscientific knowledge by valuing it (again). One way of sharing such values used is to invite old fishermen and other experienced individuals in the traditional communities to share their insights and orientations through modern media, such as video. There is good reason to explore such routes as quite a number of formerly emblematic species have all but disappeared as a result of overfishing.

The results so far are quite encouraging. In Gambia there are on-going attempts to institionalise various efforts to update the syllabus. In Senegal the teachers have also continued with extra-work but the engagement with the education department and its school inspectors is still in its infancy. The schools are quite interested in international cooperation as a way to upgrade their teaching conditions and offer better opportunities to the kids. Perhaps there could be a meeting of minds and action between the ambitions of the European Schools and those in West Africa.