Minister Foley Takes Part in Virtual Class for World’s Largest Lesson with Kerry Students and UNICEF

27th May 2021

Climate change front and centre of this year’s Global initiative

NOTE: EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 27 May

Castleisland, Co Kerry 27.05.2021 – In Co. Kerry today, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD took part in the World’s Largest Lesson, along with post-primary students from Castleisland Community College, supported by UNICEF Ireland (Thursday, 27 May). This event, part of a Global annual initiative, sees millions of children learning about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This is a critical time for children across the world; the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted learning for 1.5bn children and young people. Education must be at the forefront of the recovery from the pandemic. A key element of this transformation is scaling up world-class digital learning solutions, and providing universal connectivity, so that every child learns the skills they need to succeed in life, school and work, online and offline. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) to 2030 is a powerful framework to support this recovery, helping us move towards a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world for everyone.

World’s Largest Lesson provides children and their teachers with resources to learn about, and take action on, the SDGs. It helps young people understand the interconnection between issues such as health, clean water, climate change and peace. With creative learning resources that can be adapted for digital learning platforms, children and young people can take ownership of the Goals in their localities, galvanising action for change. In short, ESD is one way of ensuring that these Goals are achieved.

UNICEF Ireland is working with the Government to ensure young people have engagement in the climate debate. UNICEF and the World’s Largest Lesson is asking young people to consider the challenges children worldwide face today.

Minister Foley said: “This year the worldwide initiative offers all Irish schoolchildren the chance to put a focus on one of our most pressing global educational needs – building a holistic understanding of the climate and ecological crisis that is facing our world. ESD and the World’s Largest Lesson will help bridge the gap between learning and action and inspire children and young people to explore the personal changes they can make in the world around them.”

Against this backdrop, Minister Foley spent Thursday morning virtually with a group of students from Castleisland Community College, Co. Kerry taking part in World’s Largest Lesson, which this year focuses on one of our most pressing global educational needs – building a holistic understanding of the climate and ecological crisis that is facing our world.

Learning is the first step to action. To address the climate crisis, everyone needs to understand why it is happening and what can be done to mitigate its impacts.

There’s a growing movement to formalise climate and environmental education for everyone and students can be part of making this change happen.

UNICEF and its partners launched the World’s Largest Lesson as part of a commitment to inform young people about The Global Goals, which were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. The Global Goals are a series of 17 ambitious targets that aim to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change by 2030. The Minister, together with the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, recently launched a public consultation on a new joint-strategy for ESD to 2030 which will set out the contribution that education will make to achieve SDG 4.7 and the 17 SDGs.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have a right to speak and be heard. UNICEF works to support young people participate in discussions on the issues that directly affect them, working in partnership with leaders to secure access to decision-makers and key processes.

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said: “Young people consistently describe their deep and profound concern about the climate crisis to us. Children have the right to a safe and healthy environment, and it is our duty to provide opportunities for them to engage with people in power on the issues that matter most to them. UNICEF is delighted to engage with the Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD, on the World’s Largest Lesson. The Minister has worked with us previously to offer young people participation in debates of national importance, and this Thursday’s initiative on climate will broaden that discussion, taking it beyond the classroom and into matters of global importance and relevance. We acknowledge and thank the Minister for speaking directly to young people about climate, an issue that impacts them, perhaps, most of all.”

Irish school children are joining girls and boys in more than 130 countries to take part in this year’s World’s Largest Lesson. Together they are learning about The Global Goals’ key targets, such as achieving gender equality, tackling climate change, ending extreme poverty and giving all children a quality education.

The World’s Largest Lesson provides a unique opportunity to foster global citizenship and to engage in ESD in schools. It supports student learning across a range of subject areas such as science, geography, and technology, and helps teachers explore human rights, poverty and climate change.

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Notes for editors:

About the Sustainable Development Goals

In September 2015, all 193 members of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or ‘Global Goals’ as they are commonly known. This ‘Agenda for 2030’ is comprised of 17 Goals to drive development over the next 15 years by collectively ending extreme poverty, tackling climate change, and fighting inequalities. Each Goal offers clear and measurable targets for countries and citizens to respond to the call to action to meet the Goals by the year 2030. Delivery of SDG 4 – Quality Education, in particular, is a key priority for the Department of Education.

About Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)

ESD aims “to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.

The Department of Education oversee The National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development, which aims to deliver on SDG target 4.7. While ESD is a target in in itself, it is also a key enabler for delivery of all 17 SDGs.

ESD has been integrated across the curriculum from Early Years to Higher Education. This provides opportunities for engagement with ESD themes and principles in all subjects. ESD has also been integrated into the assessment and inspection processes and into Initial Teacher Education and CPD.

A public consultation on a new joint strategy for ESD to 2030 was launched by Minister Foley and Minister Harris on 22nd April, and closes at the end of June.

About World’s Largest Lesson

World’s Largest Lesson introduces the Sustainable Development Goals to young people everywhere and unites them in action. World’s Largest Lesson and UNICEF are partner organisations.

As a founding partner of the World’s Largest Lesson, UNICEF leveraged its global presence and networks, to play a critical role in bringing The Global Goals’ messages in 25 languages to more than 500 million girls and boys in over 160 countries during the initiative’s pilot launch in 2016.

For more information, including images and video visit World’s Largest Lesson website

To join the conversation about SDGs, hashtag #WorldsLargestLesson #TeachSDGs #GlobalGoals

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information about UNICEF, visit our website Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

For more information please contact:

Aedín Donnelly, UNICEF Ireland | aedin@unicef.ie | Mob: +353 85 1395272

Curriculum and Assessment Policy Unit, Department of Education | SDGs@education.gov.ie | Tel: +353 1 889 6400

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