Education: Leverage for change
Miguel Ángel Velasco cmf
Doctor of Pedagogy
Educating for a committed global citizenship This was the title of a previous article in this blog. I suppose some people would think that the idea was not bad, but it was necessary to make it a little more concrete. That's what I intend to do now. To understand and feel ourselves as responsible citizens of the world means, besides a spectacular challenge, a change of paradigm. We could compare it to the Neolithic period; a change that took place in similar centuries, in all continents. Global citizens, sensitive to what is happening to that humanity made up of more than 7 billion people and 195 countries.
A new paradigm
How can we make this paradigm shift reach, progressively, all the inhabitants of the earth? The UN, through The Sustainable Development Agenda, proposed a very significant change for our world; I do not believe that the 17 goals and 169 targets will be achieved by 2030, but they point to a real path of change, precisely because of their complexity and ambition. No, we will certainly not achieve that in 2030 all the inhabitants of the earth feel like Global Citizens, but we will have started the way to make it possible. I will not dwell on what has been said elsewhere: climate change, migration, trade, the media, COVID-19, present us with an increasingly global world, asking us for urgent changes.
Throughout history, education has been understood as a way of transmitting, from one generation to another, everything that is really important for living. Technical and scientific content is absolutely necessary for the maintenance and development of cultures; it is a necessary part of education. But if we talk about Education in a more original and profound sense; there are educational contents that seek to offer models and narratives to interpret and give meaning to existence; there are also contents more directly related to values and attitudes that build or destroy what each culture considers fundamental for living. Educational processes are key to transmitting deep changes and interpretative paradigms of reality. Well, living from the key of Global Citizenship implies conceiving the world, each person and ourselves, in a different way; it will make it possible for us to know what we have to do and how to interpret the world.
Of course, these processes of change must be considered throughout our lives, at the age of 10, 20 or 80. Anyway, although the principles I will suggest can be used for educational processes at any age, they are especially directed to Infant, Primary and Secondary education. As I said before, the change to Global Citizens will not be achieved by 2030. Focusing on childhood, adolescence and early youth has its reason for being; let's look at some numbers.
A great responsibility
The latest data (2011) from the Catholic School show that it serves 57 million students. Africa: 22,129,566; Asia: 14,086,827, America: 11,734,123, Europe: 8,468,014 and Oceania: 1,194,406. The data of theClaretian Missionaries (2014) have the same growing tendency as in the Church as a whole, especially in Asia and Africa: 100,136 students; Africa: 4,753, America: 33,646, Asia: 41,935, Europe: 19,802. The majority of the students in our Claretian schools in countries like India, the one with the greatest number and growth, are not Catholic (only about 2%). The Catholic Church and, in particular, the Claretian Missionaries, have a great possibility and a great responsibility in the implementation of the educational processes towards Responsible Global Citizenship. An attitude towards life that can be taught and learned.
The Agenda 2030 gives us the orientations of where to go
Taking the Agenda 2030 of Sustainable Development Goals will allow us to direct the efforts of the Claretians in the same direction, regardless of the religion or religious affiliation of our students. Furthermore, Agenda 2030 is a place of dialogue, collaboration and common effort among the agents of Civil Society, each nation-state and supranational organizations. Agenda 2030 is a real POINT OF MEETING AND COLLABORATION between those of us who are to be agents of change. For us, with an ideology or "book of values" for Catholics in educational centres, the encyclical Laudato Si should be the "soul" of Agenda 2030; Pope Francis has made clear on many occasions the coherence and complementarity between Laudato Si and Agenda 2030, for Catholics. The same has been done by the leaders of the great religions, referring to Agenda 2030 and their respective creeds.
What are the fundamental vectors that the
Agenda of ODS 2030 works on and what should be the axes of this area of
curricular development, Global Citizenship, in our educational centres? The
preamble of the United Nations document and Pope Francis himself make it easier
for us to talk about grouping the 17 ODS with their 169 goals into five groups
with names that begin with the letter "P". People, Planet,
Prosperity, Peace and Partnership
The first group of objectives (ODS), PEOPLE,
brings together the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals; it wants to put
at the centre of everything not only a dignified life, but a truly human life,
allowing the development of all its potential. Objectives: poverty, hunger,
life-well-being, education, equality-respect.
The second group refers to the PLANET, our
common home, the place where we human beings are a part of - Objectives:
water-sanitation, sustainable consumption-production, climate change, marine
ecosystems, terrestrial ecosystems.
The third group is PROSPERITY. Sustainable
Development, present throughout the Agenda, is especially present in the group
of ODS that seeks a better life for all, PROSPERITY. Objectives: access to
energy, sustained and inclusive growth, resilient infrastructure, reducing
ODS 16 speaks of PEACE and JUSTICE, the
objective where Human Rights resound most strongly; an objective that was
introduced in the face of the reticence of a Security Council that understood
peace and war as its exclusive theme.
The whole thing ends with ODS 17, PARTNERSHIPS. We all have to collaborate with everyone, from our possibilities and competencies, to carry out Agenda 2030.
Five vectors that have to be shaped, in each
geographical area of the Congregation, in projects of education, truly inculturated,
that opens the students to feel like citizens of the world, to transform it
"Leaving no one behind". We have to make real, from the beginning,
one of the principles of Agenda 2030: the 17 ODS, interrelated and as a whole,
are "for each and every country of the world".
From the point of view of pedagogical action,
the most appropriate would be to combine objectives, actions and experiences
that interrelate: rational-reflective knowledge; actions of contact and
commitment; affective relationship with situations and persons. It would
include: group work of learning and searching; the system of analysis of
reality posed by solving problems; work for projects involving people, ODS,
cultures, etc. Educators, at all times, have to accompany students in the
progressive discovery of what it means to be a Citizen Committed to the world;
one cannot accompany what one does not live, so one of the first objectives has
to be to "educate educators" in this sensitivity. There is no room,
in this already long article, to develop these ideas, let's leave it for
From our Claretian charisma
Let us finish with a quote from the XXV General Chapter of the Claretian Missionaries. In its final document the 6 defining features of the Claretian charism in the present moment are gathered. All the Claretian activities and all the Claretians have to be recognized for living these six features. Well, one of them is that of "Sent to evangelize and listen to the poor", which gathers the following in number 51: "We are indignant and moved by the fact that in this time of so much scientific and technological progress there is a majority of men and women who live their daily lives precariously; that, with so many resources, an economy of exclusion and a culture of discard prevails; that indifference is globalized (cf. GS 53-54). As evangelizers, we wish to be "instruments of God for the liberation and promotion of the poor" (GS 187) and to tremble mercifully before the pain of others (cf. GS 193), in order to become a poor Congregation for the poor (cf. GS 198), which allows itself to be evangelized by them and evangelizes with them". The same document indicates, with another of the six features, to "do with others": "With the whole Church and those who seek the transformation of the world".
Miguel Ángel Velasco cmf
Doctor of Pedagogy