WorldWise Global Schools Conference: Meaningful Action
In late April, the annual WorldWise Global Schools conference took place in Croke Park with the theme of ‘Meaningful Action’. This interactive day invites post-primary teachers and students from all over the country to engage to learn and showcase their Development Education practice. Now into its 4th year it has also established itself as an important date in Ireland’s ‘Development Education’ calendar, a chance for many practitioners and NGOs to come together along with the schools participating to think critically about our DE practice.
This year’s theme focused on three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or ‘Global Goals’) – on ‘Sustainable Cities and Communities’, ‘Climate Action’ and ‘Responsible Consumption’. The day was opened by Minister of State Joe McHugh and Stephanie Kirwan of Development Perspectives gave an introduction to the SDG agenda for those present as well as highlighting her own work on the #SDGchallenge.
The next session was a youth panel to explore how young people are taking meaningful action on the three Goals. The panellists were Meaghan Carmody (Young Friends of the Earth), Phil Manifold (ECO-UNESCO), Annique van Niekerk (Nu – Ethical Fashion Community which was supported via Suas’ Ideas Collective), Stephanie Kirwan (Development Perspectives) and Grace McManus (Bray Refugee Solidarity Group/10,000 missing children campaign). This was a hugely inspiring part of the day for everyone present: the students got to hear from their peers about how they became activists; and the rest of us listened to a truly transformative story of young people who learned about an issue, felt compelled to do something and joined others to figure out a way that they could make a difference. What’s more, these young people had come through various Development Education interventions over the last number of years and were testament to the excellent work of so many civil society actors – NGOs, youth workers and teachers.
The rest of the day focussed on workshops on the global goals with the students as well as a separate session for teachers facilitated by WWGS, along with IDEA and Ubuntu. The workshops looked at key issues locally and globally relating to the issues as well as developing ideas for meaningful action together. The day closed with the presentation of ‘Global passports’ to schools taking part in the WWGS programme.
All in all it was an excellent event for those active in post-primary education and the Development Education sector more broadly. The event consisted of the wonderful combination of amazing attention to detail, along with mild chaos which is part and parcel of most Development Education events involving over 300 people! The panel in particular was a powerful demonstration of the potential of good Development Education Practice and the real impact that it has to encourage critical understanding and activism to transform our communities and global structures affecting our lives.