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Linking Eco-Political-Educational Networks with UNESCO: A Constellation of Twinned NGOs-Schools?


I believe that one of the goals of current educational systems is to build new peaceful and sustainable meeting points between the cultures and civilizations that co-exist in the Homeland-Earth [Morin and Kern, 1993]. As it is stated in UNESCO’s Constitution “since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” In the current global context, this vision is more relevant than ever and sets the background for UNESCO’s current engagement in GCED. In this sense, as we have mentioned before, there is an important eco-political-educational network with different centers, associations, and institutions in charge to promote the ideals of UNESCO -as expressed since its Constitution-, to act in favor of peace and international cooperation by promotion of education, science, and culture. Perhaps, the best known project by its quantitative and qualitative connotations at glocal level is the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). ASPnet was created by the Resolution 1.341 at the end of November 1953, with the aim to set up “education for living in a world community: coordinated experimental activities in schools of Member States” [UNESCO, 2003: p.7]. The report “UNESCO Associated School Project Network (ASPnet): Historical Review 1953-2003” describes the ASPnet evolution over its first five decades, and the official website of the project (http://en.unesco.org/aspnet/) tells us that there are more than 10,000 schools in 181 Member States seeking to meet the goals of Education for All (EFA) defined in the Dakar Framework for Action. ASPnet´s work follow four main study themes: 1) World concerns and the role of the United Nations system; 2) Education for sustainable development; 3) Peace and human rights; 4) Intercultural learning. Moreover, UNESCO Chairs develop activities of research, innovation, dissemination, and training with development programs of higher education through networks of inter-university cooperation. The initiative was approved in 1992 by the General Assembly of UNESCO in its 26th session, which stated UNITWIN Program for conducting interdisciplinary projects between twinned universities. According to the website of UNESCO, there are currently around 850 institutions in 134 countries seeking to achieve the goals of EFA and MDGs through ESD activities. Something similar is happening with the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, specially with regard to monitoring the implementation of the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves, whose purpose is to promote, develop, and share knowledge and learning related to ESD, as well as strengthen cooperation between intersectional platforms (ESD, climate change, post-crisis or disaster situations, etc.). Another pillar of collaboration and regional/national/international mobilization are the 4,000 UNESCO Clubs and Associations, conformed by volunteers groups of
different ages and socio-professional status who act as activist of the civil society in

service to UNESCO ideals of cooperation in more than 100 countries.



All these networks of partners make up, as a whole, the concept of “Constellation of Twinned NGO-Schools” [Collado, 2013a], which is characterized by the intention of expanding the horizon opened by the GCED through the creation of a Cybernetic- Space-Time (CST) where UNESCO acts as gravitational force to develop altruist educational projects of cooperation in all the corners of the Homeland-Earth. CST represents, effectively, the propitious level of reality for the GCED proposed by UNESCO can develop new educational networks of transnational cooperation in worldwide. For this reason, the proposition “Constellations of Twinned NGO-Schools” represents a specific proposal that aims to contribute to the SDGs by 2030 through a virtual network of awareness promoted by the associations partners mentioned above. In the proposal of “Constellation of Twinned NGO-Schools”7 [Collado, Galeffi and Ponczek, 2014a] the Member States of the United Nations would make a national/ regional/local campaign to attract schools, universities, associations, and institutions interested in participating in programs of cooperation and development, and all countries will send a list/database to UNESCO (something which has already been underway for decades as we have seen). To this end, schools would have to make a detailed description with their defining characteristics (number of students, which languages are learned, public or private status, etc.), as well as related information of their cities, neighborhood and/or community in which their students-citizens live (i.e. geographical situation, demography, weather, etc.). In addition, each NGO-School should have its own website to be accessed in a common database of UNESCO to facilitate free interconnections and twinning between other NGO-Schools. At the same time, each student would have his/her own profile to be interconnected with other students around the world. Would it be possible that own students explain festivities and traditions of their people to other students for a better understanding of cultural differences from the early age (avoiding the “pollution” of the medias controlled by the groups of economic power)? Would it be possible to imagine glocal nodes of eco-political-educational action which work together to achieve the SDGs by 2030? It would be, in short, a specific proposal for the Framework of Action on Education post-2015 relies in the advances that telecommunications revolution has brought us with information and communications (ICT) to expand and reinforce partnerships and networking opportunities with emphasis on teachers and educators belonging to UNESCO associations networking mentioned. A proposal which main goal aims to contribute to the SDGs by 2030 through a virtual network of awareness promoted by the GCED. A proposal in harmony with the report: “Global Citizenship Education: An Emerging Perspective” issued after the UNESCO Forum on Global Education Citizenship: Preparing Learners for the Challenges of the 21st Century”:

3.1.3. There is a need to support youth-led initiatives. Partnerships with civil society are also needed. Utilisation of new ICTs is critical. New approaches may meet with reservation and/or resistance. An emerging perspective on global



7 We have defined more this concept in “The Constellation of Twinned NGOs-Schools: A New Transdemocratic Horizon in the Global Citizenship Education Proposed by UNESCO for the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda”, published in Future Human Image 1 (2014), pp. 110-126.
citizenship education, however, maintains the need for stakeholders and actors

to be open to different, but effective venues and solutions. (...)

3.2.2. Global citizenship education must reflect the voices of diverse stakeholders from different regions, sectors and populations. A network of stakeholders, who could meet for periodic discussions, can help continually renew interests and reconstruct the objectives of global citizenship education. A strong network and expertise must be made available at all levels — global, regional, national and community levels, via all means of communication and interaction [UNESCO, 2013: pp. 5-6].



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