The SDGs Academy for Children by Arigatou International ‘Pioneer Hub’ in Kenya hosted partners (also members of the GNRC) from Sombor, Serbia for a learning, reflection, benchmarking, and training session on the model of the Academy, with the goal to establish a 3rd physical space of the Academy in Serbia soon, in collaboration with the Sombor Education Centre.
The 3-day visit (10-12 November 2023) involved partners; Srdjan Vaskalic and Ivana Barac; Director and Program Coordinator respectively, from Sombor Education Centre and Hesha, manager of the End Child Poverty Knowledge Centre and lead at the SDGs Academy for Children ‘Model Classroom’ in Colombo Sri Lanka – with a host of staff Arigatou International – Nairobi.
While introducing the model of the Academy to the partners, Michael, lead of the right to sustainable development programme at Arigatou international – End child poverty explained that the SDGs Academy for Children in each region was modelled to be independent (serving the local needs and context) while at the same time interdependent (adhering to the overall Academy’s model and responding to the SDGs and Agenda 2023 in general). He went on to expound that children and youth at the Academy often learn, develop, and discuss their ideas along five areas (steps) including: knowledge, capacity, innovations and solutions, faith and dialogue, and fun and media. These areas are fashioned as the 5 hubs of the Academy.
Speaking at the sessions during the visit, Fred Nyabera, Director of Arigatou International – End Child Poverty lauded the partners from Serbia, for their interest in adopting the idea of the SDGs Academy for Children and going ahead to plan to establish a space in Serbia. He added that the space in Serbia will not only serve Serbia but will be representative of Europe as a region. He further referred to the Academies as a ‘house’ to promote synergies among members of the GNRC and Arigatou International as well. He however cautioned about the functioning of the Academy, saying that it should always be viewed as a process.
“The SDGs Academy should not function as a project but as a continuous process” he said.
The visit wouldn’t be complete without the people at the heart of the Academy – the children. A session with 14 children was held; focused on deliberations on the future world in which SDGs are implemented. The sessions were both plenary and group discussions/actions involving both children and supporting adults, including partners from Serbia. In groups, children came up with a symbolic sustainable city – adhering to each SDG; while in plenary sessions including an intergenerational dialogue, children shared on how they could co-exist in the city peacefully while partnering with each other.
“I like the functioning of the Academy especially the session with children, it’s much like how we work at Sombor Education Centre” Ivana, Programs Coordinator at Sombor Education Centre..
After robust learning, reflections and hands-on interaction and actions with children, the visit culminated in renewed commitment and excitement to establish the SDGs Academy for Children in Serbia, within the Sombor Education Centre. Srdjan, Director at the Sombor Education Centre appreciated the reflections and perspectives from both the existing Academy spaces in Kenya and Sri Lanka, saying that those will be a blueprint towards establishment of the space in Serbia. Srdjan further noted that the Academy in Serbia will be one of the elements of the youth programme at Sombor Education Centre.
“The Academy will be part of our wider youth programme and we will collaborate with partners from Romania and beyond” he noted.
Establishment of the Academy in Serbia adds to the multiplicity vision of the Academy, positioning it to respond to local issues while adhering to the Global Development Education model and Design thinking. Arigatou International believes that children are the ‘sustainable’ part of the SDGs, thus they must be involved if the SDGs are to be achieved. The Academy provides a space and opportunity to mobilize available resources and capacities, that will put children at the center and as indispensable part of the SDGs.
The SDGs Academy for Children by Arigatou International is a safe space and a programme to teach children sustainable development. It aims to provide children aged 4 and above, with simplified and easy to use multi-faith learning tools on the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, and the SDGs. The first physical space of the Academy was launched in Limuru, Kenya in 2021 and the second one in Colombo Sri Lanka in 2022 in collaboration with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement. After this visit, plans are underway to establish a third space in Sombor, Serbia in collaboration with the Sombor Education Centre.