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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
Expert View

Inculcating global citizenship with acts of kindness

Dr-Ashok-K-Pandey

By Ashok Pandey, Director, Ahlcon Group of Schools, Delhi

The thought inspires the 100 Acts of Global Citizenship Initiative that young people are in the best position to accelerate and attain the 17 Global Goals. Though young people are inclined, many lack the necessary knowledge, attitudes and skills to drive change and impact-at-scale.

We believe kindness —for the people, prosperity, planet, peace and partnerships— can be amplified through the lens of social entrepreneurship. The 100 Acts initiative under the aegis of Global Citizenship Education is built to foster awareness, understanding, and advancement of SDGs by leveraging learners’ natural curiosity.
It is instructive to note that Sustainable Development Goal 4.7 specifically talks about Education for Global Citizenship (GCED). The NEP 2020 envisions (para 4.25) that Global Citizenship Education (GCED), is crucial to develop essential skills. Global Citizenship exemplifies concern for each other and practicing kindness in all situations. The concept of empathy, mindfulness, compassion and critical inquiry must be imbibed in the young children right from the formative years towards ensuring individual and societal transformation. The Council for Global Citizenship Education recognises these missing links in the school curriculum.

The Council brought out a comprehensive understanding of global citizenship  issues, encouraging young students to identify situations and respond to them with solutions based on kindness and empathy. Thus came the introduction of “100 Acts of Global Citizenship Initiative”— the most visible manifestation and transformative effect of GCED action. The programme is effective and scalable.

The 100 Acts of Global Citizenship met with a colossal response from students and one action led to the other becoming contagious. Students completed 100 activities, wholly designed, directed and completed by students within an academic year. Students as young as ten-year-old came out with interesting project stories. For example, “Take a stand, lend a hand” – an act against Bullying talks about eradicating the menace of bullying from school life to create a better learning environment for all children.

The students conducted workshops across the school and spread awareness about the ill effects and consequences of bullying. This studentdriven programme gave an insight to their peersand provided them courage to take a stand and become a collective voice against this act. In yet another activity, “Quench the Thirst” – an Act of Kindness encouraged to build trust, closeness, happiness and wellbeing. This group moved around, taking responsibility for caring, understanding the causes and effects of hunger and building their self-confidence as global citizens. They organised programmes to feed the hungry, both humans and animals. ‘Wings of Education’‘Peace Box’, ‘Being Selfless’ are the other kindness projects entirely driven by young children. We have Year 8, Year 9 and Year 10 students who have started their initiatives, such as the Utpravan Youth Foundation, to foster student volunteerism for the SDGs; The Together Youth Foundation that successfully conducted 140 eye-check ups in partnership with another NGO-all student-led initiative.

A child typically goes to a school to ensure her cognitive development and academic success. But, flourishing a human being is more than just intellectual flourishing. Character-building and SEL skills are equally essential to pen the complete success story of individuals. Sadly, in our schools the excessive focus on academics almost robs the young children of their liaison with music, art, dance, dialogues, play, and collaboration. Ron Miller, one of today’s significant thinkers on holistic education, puts it succinctly, “Education today is not a collaborative art of mentoring and nurturing the young, but a frenzied scramble to succeed according to some external measure of success.” To ensure that every child aspires to be a helpful world citizen, we need to open them to new possibilities and new opportunities by exposing them to a broader world view. Any event taking place in one part of the world that can impact a population living in a remote part of the world should encourage us to bring critical citizenship issues into our classrooms.

The set of 17 global goals adopted by the United Nations under the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development offers a roadmap for education. Transforming education for sustainability requires the systems-shift approach. The teachers must eschew being a broadcaster and acknowledge that there are several alternative sources of knowledge. The classrooms need a redesign to elicit students’ love for learning and self – development. The pedagogy must shun predictability and encourage curiosity, innovation, and engagement. 100 Acts of Global Citizenship is an avenue at schools where students learn to become responsible citizens and engage in individual and community development.

Through this initiative, young children acknowledge that poverty, hunger, inequality, lack of opportunities, and climate change are a curse to society. In “How Will You Measure Your Life,” Clayton M.Christensen says that I want to become a person dedicated to helping improve the lives of other people, a kind, honest, forgiving and selfless. We must sow the seeds of the person our kids need to become early in life. 100 Acts of Global Citizenship Initiative helps to sprout those seeds to full blooming and aids young people in realising that kindness matters.

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