"A common well being is the motive behind the SD 4 public schools initiative or any project related to sustainability. While each project is an educational tool by itself, tackling the educational sector directly has yet bigger impacts. Introducing sustainability to children gives them access to skills, allowing autonomy, know-how, and adaptation to the real issues of the future; and it gives us the chance to work with them on developing solutions to these challenges facing our society while being inspired by their intuition and spontaneity. It is this cooperation and exchange that this intervention is built upon."

 

This is how Perla Mansour, a young activist with Organisation De Development Durable (ODDD), describes the project “Sustainability 4 Youth in Schools across Lebanon”.  The project is a series of educational workshops on diverse sustainability themes, aiming to enhance the awareness and skills of young people in Lebanon about sustainable development through designing and implementing youth-led activities in various public and private schools across the country.  

 

In line with UNESCO’s focus on quality education, this project seeks to enhance the profound understanding and practical engagement of school students on the concept and application of sustainable development. It also seeks to improve their competencies in understanding complex global challenges such as climate change, and inspire them to act to contribute to solutions in their local community.  

 

Salim Shehadeh and Mona Zoghbi of UNESCO Beirut also explained that the project seeks to build the skills and capacities of local youth leaders in mobilizing and leading their communities towards sustainable development, by providing them an opportunity and platform to engage in the development and conduction of dynamic and creative educational activities for school students.

 

Over a period of 3 months, a total of 385 kids in 9 public and 2 private schools, between the ages of 8 to 12 years old, engaged in hands-on activities that enhanced their knowledge and skills on diverse themes related to sustainable development. It took five key partners working side by side with 22 youth activists to achieve a successful and long-lasting impact!

 

The collaborating partners included UNESCO Beirut OfficeLe Drageon educational eco-centre, Friends of Nature (FON)/ MACAM museum, the Lebanese National Commission for UNESCO (LNCU), and Organisation de Development Durable (ODDD).

 

A “Workshops Organization Committee” (WOC), composed of all partners, was created to develop the schools intervention curriculum, implement it in the chosen public and private schools, and propose a continuity/scale-up to this project.  The youth activists played a dynamic and vital role throughout the various phases of the initiative, especially during the execution process as they represented the soul of the initiative via their commitments, enthusiasm and leadership.

 

“Our main objective was to choose and develop an interactive workshop to be introduced in local public schools; focused mainly on transmitting the initiative details, understanding each of the SDGs, finding a common ground for the concept of sustainability, and beginning to develop a potential curriculum”; says Elyesh of ODDD. Thus, two interventions per school took place; the in-school intervention & the guided tour intervention; both led by the youth activists.

 

The in-school intervention curriculum tackled two topics; the first was focused on up-cycling and the second on water and planting.

  • The Up-cycling curriculum: Students made their own notebooks out of up-cycled materials and received the Sustainable Mini Library (SML) which was developed by ODDD NGO and assembled by the youth participants who attended the UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Regional Training Programme for Arab Youth (August 2017);
1

The Sustainable Mini Library

  • The Water Conservation curriculum: Students got to understand the water cycle and water pollution, and worked on building a water wall to collect rainwater for personal/agricultural usage. Furthermore, the students assembled a permaculture/agriculture unit developed by ODDD NGO team.
2

The water-wall for rainwater collection, made from plastic bottles

 

As for the guided visits tour, the main aim was to put the students and the youth facilitators in direct contact with nature; to give them the opportunity to understand it by experimenting it and not only by hearing and speaking about it in the classroom. 

3

School students planting at Le Drageon

4

School students learning about seeds during field visit to Taanayel EcoLodge

 

The schools students shared very positive feedback regarding their nature discovery visits. They showed deep interest and excitement for direct engagement with nature, and asked to have the youth back to work with them on additional topics related to sustainability. Aside from the kids, the schools principles and instructors also expressed their gratitude for such intervention and their interest to scale it up at their school with other students.

You can find detailed information about this initiative in this report.

 

*This article was written by Marie-Jean Malek, intern at UNESCO Beirut and member of ODDD ngo.

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