The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action adopted in 2015 by all United Nations (UN) Member States with the aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of all people by 2030. Much progress has already been made in meeting the 17 Goals, but more work needs to be done in the decade to come. Last year, the UN Secretary-General called on all sectors of society to mobilise for a decade of action. Institutions, governments, and private sector organisations need to be at the forefront of this change, and people, including the youth, need to generate an unstoppable movement pushing for the required transformations.
At YCIS, the school is committed to inspiring students to take part in this change from a very young age. That’s why last month, YCIS Pudong campuses organised an ‘SDG Fair’ to educate students about the 17 global Sustainability Development Goals. To create collaboration between different sections of the school and encourage work between different class levels, Year 12 students were asked to lead the fair’s activities for K4 and Primary students as a ‘Creativity, Activity, Service’ (CAS) project, as part of their International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) curriculum.
In preparation for the fair, the students studied the SDGs and reflected on each individual’s part in contributing to them. Then, the Year 12 students took on the responsibility of highlighting one of the SDGs, creating posters and brochures, organising different activities for the fair, where they showcased their individual goals and targets and explained what is being done to support their goals in China.
During the all-day SDG Fair, the Year 12 students then presented their work to the students at Regency Park Campus. In an exhibition-like event, the younger students moved from one station to another to learn about the various goals, and each Year level was allotted a time to participate in the activities. When talking about the challenges of organising the fair, Elena, YCIS Pudong Secondary student, recalled: “One of the biggest challenges in the organisation of the fair was to ensure that all of the brochures, presentations, and activities were well suited and appealing to young children. Many of us don’t have experience working with children, and it took several rounds of discussions and editing before our material reached the conciseness and effectiveness that we were aiming for. Throughout this process, we helped one another and learned through collective ideas.”
By working on this project, Year 12 students were able to develop a better understanding of the SDGs’ importance both internationally and domestically and were empowered to realise that they are an integral part of creating change. The project also helped them develop their research skills, collaboration with others, and public speaking.
At the same time, by learning about these goals,the Regency Park Campus students gained different perspectives about global issues, such as gender equality and lack of access to clean water. By being introduced to topics such as poverty, hunger, and high-quality education, they began to understand the unique challenges facing communities all over the world that they may not have known about before.
Learning about the SDGs is nevertheless a year-round process at YCIS. For example, the IB Geography class is centered around the Sustainable Development Goals, and there is an SDGs-dedicated school assembly every month, during which a different goal is discussed and becomes the focus of that month.
The SDGs are also closely related to YCIS Service Learning, as most of the community and service activities address one or several goals. During Service-Learning events, students collaborate with different school members, meet like-minded people, and make connections in the broader community, sparking more ideas through combined efforts, and taking a step closer to realising the aims of the SDGs.
According to Mr Dudley Stuurman, Social Sciences Teacher, CAS Coordinator, and World Classroom Coordinator at YCIS Pudong, “To solve the world’s biggest challenges, we strive to encourage our students to be active participants in their local and global communities. Children that are in school today will grow up to be adults in an increasingly interconnected and multicultural society. They will need empathy to develop healthy relationships throughout their lives. Learning about SDGs from a very young age will contribute to building compassion in children and will help them become passionate, engaged adults”.
At YCIS, projects like this help students truly develop a critical understanding of topics such as the SDGs and allow them to delve deeply in learning why SDGs are necessary, leading them to be inspired to make positive changes — whether in big or in small ways — to the world around them.