Associated Schools Project Network

The Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) promotes the ideals of UNESCO by conducting pilot projects in favour of better preparing children and young people to meet effectively the challenges of an increasingly complex and interdependent world. Launched in 1953, the network now includes over 7,700 educational institutions ranging from pre-school education to teacher training in 170 countries. In August 2003, ASPnet's 50th anniversary was celebrated at the Navigators for Peace Congress held in Auckland, New Zealand. The current strategy and plan of action of ASPnet places emphasis on reinforcing the four pillars of Learning for the 21st Century (learning to know, to do, to be and to live together) and promoting quality education as outlined in Dakar Framework of Action on Education for All. ASPnet has been closely involved in the multimedia teacher education programme 'Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future' and the testing of a young person's guide to the World Heritage (jointly with the World Heritage Centre). At the regional level, flagship initiatives include the Caribbean Sea Project and Sandwatch, both aimed at encouraging the effective response of young people to their coastal and marine environment. The Transatlantic Slave Trade Education Project is another network initiative.

An international photo contest on young people as seen by their teachers was organized as part of activities to mark the 50th anniversary of ASPnet. Among the 'special mentions': Instituto preuniversitario vocational de ciensas exactas Ernesto Guevara, Cuba (left) (Photo: José Echeverra Torres) and Colegio Santa Rosa de Lima, Dominican Republic (right) (Photo: Nancy Ramirez)

Among ASPnet's flagship projects is the Caribbean Sea Project (CSP). Launched in 1994, the aim is to heighten young people's effective response to the marine environment as a pre-requisite for their positive action and to enable them to learn about the rich cultural diversity of the Caribbean region. Among CSP activities, materials have been produced to support the work of teachers, and students provided with opportunities to organize problem-solving and research activities. Another of the components of CSP is Sandwatch, a joint initiative of two UNESCO sectors (Education and Natural Sciences), in cooperation with the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant Program. With an initial focus on the Caribbean, starting in 2001, Sandwatch now includes islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as a number of other countries. Its objectives include training schoolchildren in the scientific observation of beaches through field measurements and data analysis, and assisting schoolchildren (with the help of teachers and local communities) to use the information collected to better manage the region's beaches. The website of the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) Platform contains extensive information on Sandwatch and its development and written outputs. A dedicated website for Sandwatch is under construction.

Among recent activities, a competition of school-based Sandwatch projects has been organized. This process provided the opportunity to take-stock and document the experiences and practices of Sandwatch at the school level.. Submissions were received from 25 schools in nine island states/territories, with awards attributed to nine schools in September 2005. In cooperation with Jamaican National Commission for UNESCO, a workshop was held from 28 November to 1 December 2005 for educators from schools, Ministry of Education, teacher training institutions and NGOs in Jamaica. The focus was on Sandwatch as an interdisciplinary approach to science education for sustainable development. Participants were trained in methods and approaches and agreed to launch Sandwatch in selected schools starting January 2006. Steps for applying the Sandwatch approach in other ecosystems were also examined. A committee to support this process was formed. Another workshop was held in Suva (Fiji) on 8-9 December 2005 in cooperation with Live and Learn Environmental Education, an NGO that promotes greater understanding of environmental and human sustainability through education and communication. The prime focus of Live and Learn is the integration of environmental, cultural and development concepts in extensive education programmes for the younger generation of the South Pacific Community. The two-day workshop focused on providing a thorough background to Sandwatch, describing and discussing the techniques, and then practising them on the beach. The practical work was conducted at Suva Point, a very popular, yet heavily polluted beach near the capital city, Suva. Also in the Pacific, Sandwatch has been integrated across the school curriculum in the Cook Islands. Among the teaching and learning materials for these various field activities is a 91-page report Introduction to Sandwatch: an educational tool for sustainable development, released in September 2005 as Coastal regions and small island papers 19. The Transatlantic Slave Trade Education Project is another ASPnet activity of special interest to Small Island Developing States. The TST-'Breaking the Silence' project aims to improve the teaching of history by telling the whole story of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, emphasizing the significance of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the suffering it caused and its social, cultural and economic impact. A somewhat similar project has been launched through ASPnet for countries in the Indian Ocean.

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