SDG Education

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SDG Education and Global Citizenship in Qatar: Enhancing Qatar’s Nested Power in the Global Arena

Since the 1970s education for sustainable development in its various forms and guises has been rising in the international agenda. From the 1975 Belgrade Charter to the Global Action Plan 2015-2019 we are currently in the era of the United Nations’ Education for Sustainable Development for 2030 (ESD2030). Originally confined to science textbooks, the definition of sustainability has become increasingly broader and more holistic encompassing four key areas: economic, political, ecological and social systems including their complex interconnections and interdependence. As stated in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 for Quality Education, one core component of education for Sustainable Development is the concept of global citizenship. This is, as Ban Ki-Moon, the former Secretary General of the United Nations describes, more than preparing people for the job market but orienting them toward an ethical responsibility in creating just, peaceful and tolerant societies.

Although the Arab world initially lagged behind, in the last decade there has been a sharp rise in the adoption and implementation of sustainable development and global citizenship education, particularly in the Gulf region - Qatar has been at the forefront. In 2015, Qatar hosted the first global education conference following the ratification of the SDGs. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser was also re-appointed as one of the 17 SDG ambassadors due to her ongoing commitment to quality education and youth empowerment both locally and internationally. The Qatar National Vision 2030 places sustainability and advanced educational practices at the heart of its agenda. Global organizations that work toward sustainability and nurturing an ethical global outlook, such as United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Eco-schools and International Baccalaureate, are also affiliated with a significant number of schools throughout Qatar. Moreover, many other non-governmental organizations have been established that work toward the SDGs, some of which have earned international recognition such as the Maker Majlis. Yet, to date there has not been a comprehensive and systematic study of all these initiatives and their impact.

Project Aims

This five-year cluster project has three main objectives:

1. Assess

Map and scope the highly-complex and multi-layered sector inside Qatar that teaches education for sustainable development and global citizenship. This includes all formal governmental and non-governmental entities such as schools, organizations and social initiatives and their local, regional and global networks as well as government policies that inform these practices.

2. Analyze

In-depth analysis and evaluation of the current system through quantitative and qualitative means. It will analyze on four different levels: governmental policies, documents and frameworks comparative to international best practices; public and private school curricula and teachers as well as higher educational institutes; non-governmental entities and their activities and how they relate to the formal educational sector; and finally, the integration of culturally appropriate pedagogical tools and theories including Islamic and Arab values and ethics.

3. Act

Create and pilot new pedagogical tools, teaching guides, theoretical frameworks, spaces and policy recommendations to teach the SDGs and global citizenship in an innovative and effective manner that also complements Qatari traditions, culture and heritage. These can then be used as a successful model for other similar countries.

Sub Projects

Sub-project 1: Localizing International Best Practices and Policies

Sub-project 1 has three objectives: First, the sub-project will map the entire constellation of international organizations including non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and professional associations contributing to SDGs and SDG education. Second, it will gather data on selected country responses and policy frameworks around global citizenship education. Third, this sub-project will undertake three local case studies of SDG education “implementation value chains.” The key challenge in most policy areas, but particularly in the SDGs, is translating high-concept global/national policy frameworks into local action, in this case, in the classroom. With thick descriptions and careful mapping of the implementation of policy frameworks into front-line teaching, the sub-project will be able to offer lessons on how implementation falls short, but also how value can be created through and with our partners.

Lead Project Investigator

Sub-project 2: SDGs and the Qatar National Vision 2030

This sub-project is designed to identify overlapping concepts and materials of the SDGs and the QNV2030 and to identify their implications for education in Qatar. It will collaborate with THIMUN Qatar, Teach for Qatar, and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education to map the status of Qatar’s formal policies that encourage the development and advancement of SDG education in the current educational system. This sub-project will develop local case studies studying the existing practices in Qatar in both public and private Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, higher education institutions, and external institutions. This project is designed to offer evidence-based solutions regarding how to overcome QNV2030 educational challenges. Overall, the cluster project will explore ways to integrate SDGs more broadly into Qatar's education system.

Lead Project Investigator

Integrating Cultural and Islamic Values in the Curriculum Lead Project Investigator: Dr. Logan Cochrane

Sub-project 3 examines the role of values within the context of sustainability and global citizenship. This project focuses locally, on how values are localized and integrated into teaching and learning within Qatar. This sub-project works closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education and their monthly values which it has identified for integration into schools.

Lead Project Investigator

Sub-project 4 and 6: Assessing SDG Literacy and Piloting Interventions in Qatar Schools

Sub-project 4 and 6 quantifies the ways in which the SDGs and global citizenship are implemented in education in Qatar’s preparatory and secondary schools. These subprojects will consider how Qatar’s current school curriculum already takes the SDG and global citizenship goals into consideration in order to establish a starting point for exploring new opportunities. In addition to mapping existing SDG and global citizenship practices in Qatar’s public schools, it will also carry out baseline assessments of teacher awareness and literacy of SDG global citizenship in general. These assessments will provide the basis for teacher-centered training. Based on the outcomes of these activities, and while strongly considering the local context, the subprojects will develop and pilot SDG global citizenship activities and educational collaboration for the school curricula in Qatar. These activities and the teacher experience will be assessed for their efficacy in the school system.

Sub-project 5: Embedding SDGs and Global Citizenship into an Ethical Education Framework

Sub-project 5 focuses on values, dimensions and factors in global citizenship education and SDG education, both at an international level and those in Qatari tradition and society. The objectives of this subproject are to identify moral and other values that correspond to SDG and global citizenship education comparatively including cultural, socio-political and Islamic traditions to inform educational policy and curriculum and pedagogical practices. The aim is to both help students in secondary school and undergraduate university levels to form a global citizen identity as well as sustain and maintain their own Qatari identity and traditions while supporting sustainability. The research involves document analysis and interviews, as well as examining precedents in other jurisdictions where values development has been undertaken to achieve these goals through educational innovation. The later stages of the project involve piloting new curriculum and pedagogy, recommending policy development, and identifying areas for further development.

Lead Project Investigator

Sub-project 7: Integrated Reporting for Measuring Performance of SDGs

Sub project 7 is about applying the integrated reporting model into educational institutions in Qatar. Effective “integrated reporting” has a number of benefits, the foremost of which is the creation of an “integrated thinking” approach across the organization, which focuses on “long term value creation” beyond a short-term profit motive. The ‘six capitals’ in the integrated reporting framework refer to inputs and outcomes related to deliverables of educational services, which are particularly important to funders and regulators. These capitals are: financial, manufactured; intellectual; human, intellectual, social and natural capital. The experimented integrated reporting model will be extendable to other educational institutions via the SDGs Implementation network founded by Professor Abdelsalam and colleagues as an initiative funded by the British Council, Newton Fund, Ethical Finance Research Centre at Durham University and Istanbul Sehir University. The network enables on going impact, via disseminating the model to the overall educational sector, funders and policy makers.

Lead Project Investigator

Sub-project 8: Moving Beyond the Classroom

This part of the cluster moves from theoretical research into tangible action. Building on our findings it focuses on opening dialogue, creating new synergies and innovative spaces to explore, engage and envision the SDGs. These platforms, such as maker spaces, workshops and boot camps, aim to bring to life the SDGs in Qatar in a way that is simultaneously local and global. It will help advance a vision that is relevant and tailored to Qatar and Qatar’s values, rich culture and history, yet also connected to the wider, rapidly changing and mercurial world. It will empower people to consider the unique challenges that Qatar faces as well as its many opportunities. Bringing together different members and parts of the community – from the youth to social organizations to businesses and government entities – it aims to foster an equal, sustainable and prosperous blueprint for the future in Qatar, designed by the people of Qatar that leaves no one behind.


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