International primary education project
Feliz Birth Tag – My Zero-Waste Birthday in the
World of Tomorrow
Schule am Wingster Wald, Wingst, Germany; FD Primary School, Ahmedabad, India;
and Escuela Manuel Bartolomé Cossío, Mexico City, Mexico
In 2017 the Schule am Wingster Wald, an elementary school from Germany, decided to participate in the “One World for All” school competition on development policy initiated by the German President. Two members of ESD Expert Net, a network of experts in the field of Education for Sustainable Development from Germany, India, Mexico and South Africa, helped to connect the Schule am Wingster Wald with two schools in Ahmedabad, India, and Mexico City, Mexico, that were interested in working together.
The three facilitators – Sabine Cordes, principal of the “Schule am Wingster Wald” in Germany, Rajeswari Gorana, a member of the ESD Expert Net from India, and Wendy Morel, a member of the ESD Expert Net from Mexico – jointly developed the project and took all the relevant decisions together. They discussed and refined the different milestones on a weekly basis, from the selection of topics to the planning of the next steps. Furthermore, they created a common WhatsApp group to quickly reach agreements and answer any questions that arose.
The project “Feliz Birth Tag” was born from the ideas and criteria that the facilitators developed and included the following elements:
- Enabling the pupils from the different countries to get to know each other on an equal footing;
- Identifying global commonalities and discussing them;
- Facilitating the participation of all pupils within a framework of inclusive education;
- Pursuing a topic of global learning that is equally relevant for everyone involved and which promotes opportunities for acting accordingly worldwide..
The implementation of the project proceeded as follows:
- The facilitators established a common framework of sessions and questions and translated them for the pupils. This was then communicated and developed via Skype conferences, email and WhatsApp.
- The activities carried out and the questions answered by each group were shared via the WhatsApp group. All groups also created short films, which were translated from English into German, Gujarati and Spanish, respectively, to ensure better comprehension on the part of the pupils. The pupils shared videos in which they sang typical birthdays songs, discussed cooking recipes they normally use and presented alternative decorations for a sustainable birthday celebration.
- Given the children’s expectation to see what the others shared and their desire to show this content to their parents and friends, Wendy Morel developed an interactive presentation with the technical support of Giovanni Fonseca, another ESD Expert Net member (see www.t1p.de/felizbirthtag).
- As part of the project, a Skype conference was organised between the class in Germany and the class in India (unfortunately, this was not possible with the Mexican class due to the different time zones.) This interaction presented a number of challenges, including the need for continuous translation and the poor sound quality. Nevertheless, this format enabled the pupils to communicate directly with each other, to see the other children and to have a conversation in real time.
Such international partnerships based on virtual exchanges enable elementary school pupils to get to know children from other countries – their peers from around the world – without the necessity of travel. A crucial component of this project was the joint focus on the UN’s SDGs. Working on topics such as how to avoid garbage and how willing people on different continents are to take responsibility for the world can empower even elementaryschool leaners to take action.