Transforming education:  ASPnet key initiatives

Education for sustainable development, global citizenship education and inter-cultural and heritage learning
Last update: June 17, 2022

ASPnet brings school community voices to the global debate on the Futures of Education

It contributes to UNESCO's Futures of Education initiative which aims to rethink education and help shape the future. From September 2020 until February 2021, ASPnet mobilized over 2500 school leaders, teachers, students and their parents from across the globe to reflect on: How can education promote sustainable development and global citizenship, not only today but also tomorrow? How should what, how and where we learn evolve in the future? The insights informed UNESCO's International Commission on the Futures of Education and the global flagship report Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education, published in November 2021.  

ASPnet drives innovation of teacher education through communities of practice

ASPnet Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) formed a global community of practice to reorient teacher education and training towards transformative education for global citizenship (GCED) and sustainable development (ESD). Through online meetings, ASPnet deans, teacher educators, student teachers as well as National Coordinators from 18 countries together with UNESCO and experts exchange good practices on how to transform teaching and learning for global citizenship and sustainable development and to initiate change through collaborative projects. For example, teacher educators and student teachers from Argentina, Belgium, Finland, Japan, Kenya, the Philippines and Senegal set up an e-twinning mechanism to experience and practice intercultural collaboration and to jointly develop innovative and transformative learning activities for GCED-ESD.  

The global community of practice issued a dynamic, shared vision for initial teacher education and invites for global collaborative action. 

  • Dr Rowena Raton-Hibanada, Assistant Professor at the Philippine Normal University, talks about her approach to transformative education   
  • Sophie McDonnell a student-teacher from Marino Institute of Education in Dublin speaks about the importance of different educational perspectives   
  • Dr Felisa Tibbitts, UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Higher Education and Chair in Human Rights Education at the Human Rights Centre of Utrecht University (Netherlands), speaks about transformative learning  

ASPnet initiates the global Trash Hack campaign for sustainable development

In September 2020, on World Cleanup Day, UNESCO, with kind support from the Government of Japan, launched the global campaign Trash Hack encouraging young people worldwide to take action to promote sustainable development, reflect on their actions, and share their learnings. As part of the campaign, ASPnet and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE)  partnered to invite their members to engage in action learning on trash, waste management and, more widely, sustainable development.  

To support school communities and teachers UNESCO ASPnet and the Section of ESD developed a practical guide Trash Hack: Action Learning for Sustainable Development published by UNESCO in English, French and Spanish. Students and teachers use the guide to trash hack their classrooms, schools and communities, and creating videos and images to submit to UNESCO and the Young Reporters for the Environment Competition showing their work.   

ASPnet offers a global platform for students to exchange ideas

The Global ASPnet Student Forum provided a platform for students and youth leaders all over the world to exchange ideas around transformative education for global citizenship and sustainable development. It was jointly hosted with the International Centre for UNESCO ASPnet and showcased examples of innovative actions by ASPnet students and young leaders from UNESCO youth networks, such as UNESCO Youth for Climate Action Network (YoU-CAN), UNESCO ESD Youth and UNESCO SDG4Youth.  

ASPnet promotes a whole school approach

ASPnet takes a whole-school approach (WSA) to transforming learning and training environments guided by the Global Action Programme on ESD. Schools work to integrate local and global sustainability issues into the curriculum, while reinforcing interactive, participatory teaching and learning that fosters critical thinking and changes attitudes. The whole campus is used as a learning environment; the school is run in an environmentally friendly manner and its work is linked with sustainable development activities in the local community. Learners become agents of change.  

From 2016 to 2018, ASPnet implemented the Getting Climate-Ready: A Whole-School Approach to Climate Change project which included more than 250 schools in 25 countries. The pilot explored the possibility of a WSA to climate change at a global scale, with students in diverse economic, geographic, social, and cultural contexts, as well as from different age groups. The WSA approach means that students, teachers, principals, school staff, parents, local citizens, community organizations and the private sector work together to embed sustainability in four domains: School Governance, Teaching and Learning, Community Partnerships, and Facilities and Operations. ASPnet is now seeking partners to scale it up and invite thousands of learners and schools worldwide to prioritise climate action and show the way for other schools.  

ASPnet supports inter-cultural learning and cultural diversity

nter-cultural learning allows students to understand, value and take positive action in regard to their own and others’ culture and identity, and the contribution that these make to society. From 2019-2021, ASPnet schools in the European Union were involved in an innovative pilot project on teaching and learning with living heritage as part of the UNESCO/EU project 'Engaging youth for an inclusive and sustainable Europe'.  

Get inspired by the resource kit for teachers, the 10 pilot projects in ASPnet schools and these videos: