From 26 -28 June 2018, 40 National Coordinators of the UNESCO Associated Schools Network came together in Windhoek, Namibia, to start a new phase of dynamic collaboration in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.
With funding from the Hainan Provincial Government, People’s Republic of China, UNESCO organized the first-ever Regional Capacity Development Workshop for ASPnet National Coordinators in Sub-Saharan Africa, in collaboration with the Namibian National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO Windhoek Office. Newly nominated National Coordinators from Serbia, Estonia and Vietnam also participated in the workshop as well as in an Orientation Session to assist them in playing their new role. Representatives from the six African countries which are not yet members of ASPnet were also invited and Djibouti and South Sudan seized the opportunity to learn about ASPnet in view of joining the network soon.
Putting Africa first
The workshop was designed to strengthen the capacity of ASPnet National Coordinators to support their schools in developing strategic educational projects positioned within UNESCO’s global priority to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and SDG 4, particularly target 4.7. In order to ensure that ASPnet can deliver on this important expectation, UNESCO developed a new Guide for National Coordinators as well as several guides for schools and teachers, and chose the priority region Africa for presenting them in depth to their key users and beneficiaries. The organization of the event in Namibia is significant for strengthening UNESCO Associated Schools in Africa and developing their potential to drive educational innovation for global citizenship, sustainable development and intercultural learning in the SDG context.
From commitment to aspiration
In her opening remarks, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Namibia’s Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture and Deputy Chairperson of the Namibian National Commission for UNESCO, Ms Veno Kauaria, acknowledged the challenges which educators in sub-Saharan Africa face. Nevertheless, she also underlined their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that Target 4.7 resonates with aspirations to play a part in global peace building.
Ms Soo-Hyang Choi, Director of the Division for Peace and Sustainable Development at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, gave a keynote presentation on the SDGs with a focus on target 4.7. She provided analysis and insights on the development and scope of the new agenda, the education goal and its monitoring, as well as on the related challenges. Ms Choi also pointed out the prominent role ASPnet should play to advance UNESCO’s agenda of transforming education systems for the achievement of Target 4.7. As a laboratory, ASPnet can make an important contribution in guiding policy and programme development, as well as teacher training, for new ways of teaching and learning.
Aligning SDG 4, Target 4.7 – the Role of National Coordinators
One of the main objectives of the meeting is the comprehensive presentation of the new Guide for National Coordinators, published in May 2018, which recalls ASPnet’s overall mission and objectives, updated in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and clarifies its governance structure, the responsibilities of UNESCO, National Commissions and National Coordinators, procedures and requirements for membership and reporting modalities. In her presentation, Sabine Detzel, International ASPnet Coordinator, highlighted the crucial role of the National Coordinators in supporting effectively ASPnet member schools in promoting UNESCO’s values and objectives, and in contributing to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Moreover, it was important to align the ASPnet thematic action areas (the former “study themes”) to SDG 4. The network will now focus on:
From outreach to collaboration
The workshop was also a training space for the National Coordinators to acquire practical know-how in using the Online Tool for ASPnet (OTA) and getting a deeper knowledge of its functioning and scope. The tool aims to facilitate the communication between ASPnet actors worldwide and to support them in connecting with each other. The training sessions were also an opportunity to engage participants in streamlining and improving the overall management of their schools and enabling them to exchange experiences and learn about existing cross-border initiatives and best practices.
Schools in action
During the workshop, the participants had the opportunity to visit two ASPnet schools in Windhoek and namely: David Bezuidenhout Secondary School and Waldorf Primary and Secondary School. The school visits allowed a closer insight on different aspects of an ASPnet schools’ life. The participants got the chance to observe classes, activities and facilities. Exchanges with students and teachers as well as schools’ staff allowed the participants to discover how the schools are putting UNESCO’s values and priorities into practice and how a school can be connected locally, regionally and globally with other members.
This first workshop in Africa helped all participants to gain a shared understanding of the important role that the UNESCO Associated Schools Network can play to experiment and showcase new educational approaches in the areas of Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship, Cultural Diversity and Heritage, with gender equality cutting across all.
The Conference Brochure
The Programme: speeches and presentations when available
Tuesday 26 June 2018
Session 1: Context – ASPnet in the SDG era and its contribution to 4.7
Session 2: Governance and Management
Presentation of the Guide for National Coordinators by Sabine Detzel, International ASPnet Coordinator
Session 3: Tools and Materials
Wednesday 27 June 2018
Study Visits to ASPnet schools in Windhoek:
Session 4: ASPnet Projects and Activities
Thursday 28 June 2018
Session 5: Town Hall Discussion on next steps for developing ASPnet: Challenges and Opportunities, moderated by Soo-Hyang Choi, Director of the Division for Peace and Sustainable Development, UNESCO
Session 6: Networking and Collaboration
Closing Remarks by Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, Head of UNESCO Windhoek Office
Workshop tours in Videos
- Key moments
- What the participants have to say