Vellore (India). On 6 February 2021 the “Auxilium College of Education” University of Katpadi-Vellore – Indian Province of St. Thomas the Apostle (INM) – organized an international Webinar and a Workshop on the theme “Innovative ideas to integrate sustainable development goals (SDG ) in Education”, which registered the participation of more than 450 students from the Institutions of Higher Education of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (ISS-FMA) of South Asia.
Sister Amali Alexander, Principal of Auxilium College of Education and organizer of the webinar, welcomed the participants and introduced Sister Runita Borja, General Councilor for Youth Ministry; Sister Ivone Goulart Lopes and Sister Lolia Annie, Sector Collaborators; the main speaker, Dr. Sandra Joseph, Principal of the “Jesus and Mary College” of New Delhi; and Sister Alice Kanickaraj, Secretary of the Auxilium Colleges of Vellore.
In her opening address, Sr. Runita Borja shared a reflection on the sensitivity of young people to social issues and their commitment to the environment, social integration, interreligious dialogue, and other issues. “Every day God makes all things new, so young people must feel supported and encouraged in making their contribution to renew the world.” She then spoke of the 17 objectives of sustainable development (SDG) signed by UN member Countries to reduce poverty, protect the planet, and improve the conditions of peace and well-being for all by 2030. To realize this dream, every young person must reflect on personal choices and goals aimed at the common good.
The theme of SDG was presented by Dr. Sandra Joseph, who began her report with a historical framework, illustrating the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the results verified in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, with the aim of addressing economic challenges, political and environmental issues of the world.
Dr. Sandra Joseph developed five themes concerning the SDG – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership underlining the importance of integrating the SDG into education, in order to contribute to the change of society. This involves an in-depth study of some aspects related to education, such as equality, social justice, attention to girls’ education, and learning methods – formal, non-formal, and informal – and the development of skills.
During the Workshop session, the students were invited to reflect, through a questionnaire, on how to implement the SDG in local contexts and on how to integrate the objectives in education. Subsequently, Dr. Joseph divided the students into 12 groups with the request to work on 5 SDG of their choice, to make a project with objectives, methods, expected results, and timelines, giving substance to each development objective, based on the local situations and problems encountered.
At the end of the Workshop, the participants returned to the online assembly and shared their responses. As they expressed in their feedback, it was an enriching moment in which everyone was able to learn about the problems of the different States and Regions and exchange ideas on how to approach them:
- “We gained awareness of the sustainable development goals and how they can be integrated and implemented in the various educational fields.” (Ramya)
- “The group discussion was very useful and stimulating, to understand how each of us can implement the SDG in our own Region.” (Aleena)
- “The webinar was very useful, especially for the aspect of self-introspection: I realized that only when we go in depth, can we bring about a change in us, which in turn will make a difference in society.” (Eleen)
- “It was a new experience for me, because many FMA from the FMA Institutions and students from different Countries participated and shared their opinions, and it was formative and stimulating.” (Sandra)