Global Education actors in the Republic of Serbia – Interview with the North-South Centre
The North-South Centre (the full title is “The European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity”) is an organisation created in 1989 by an enlarged Partial agreement of the Council of Europe whose mission is to spread the values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Fun Park is bringing you an interview with Miguel Silva, the programme manager of Global Education, one of their key programmes.
With this interview we are also starting an interview series with Global Education actors in the Republic of Serbia. Even though the North-South Centre doesn’t operate directly in RS but rather on the level of the whole Global Education Network, we thought it necessary to show their perspective as well, given their unique position as the programme’s creators.
1. Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role at the North-South Centre?
It is highly motivating to engage in this exchange with the Center for Youth Work and young readers and activists – because I consider intercultural and intergenerational peer-learning two of the education fundamentals, it is with great enthusiasm that I enter in this dialogue.
What led me to the position of Global Education Programme Manager, and being part of the enthusiastic team North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, is the conviction that any learning process and personal growing process in particular, is based on complementarity: complementarity of knowledge, sensitivity, or perceptions – with no hierarchies between or within them. As a human being, and as a citizen in my daily actions, I am driven by the principle of respect of the other and respect of our Mother Earth.
It is with this belief that I gladly work with educators, for educator’s professional development. Learning is a daily process as we need to understand and adapt to an evolving reality. Our competences are in a permanent enriching process. And this is the most exciting dimension of life, learning through observation and through mutual help.
To sum up, growing in harmony with nature and with the others – what we call now sustainable lifestyles.
2. What is it that the North-South Centre does when it comes to Global Education?
The North-South Centre, through its GE programme, as contributed to the development of an educational concept which related competences help formal and non-formal educators, as well as learners, to understand and deal with global challenges and contemporary issues, highlighting the connection between the local and the global issues – what we call in our jargon the Glocal approach. More concretely, the NSC offers pedagogical support to educators through online and residential training courses, promotes peer-learning through networking, and develops GE advocacy through recommendations for policymakers and practitioners.
3. Has the purpose of GE changed ever since the Global Education Charter was drafted in 1997?
I would say that GE keeps a permanent dialogue, and state of alert/awareness, between citizens and their cultural, social, economic, political, ethical, and environmental realities – it develops citizens’ consciousness on their role and responsibilities to build fair societies and contribute to a sustainable system, at local and global levels. Having said that, I would consider that the purpose of GE is permanent and everlasting.
4. Has the global COVID-19 pandemic impacted your plans for the future in any way?
COVID-19 has impacted NSC work in the sense that as a team we had to reformulate our plan of activities in order to adapt to the new sanitary contingencies – the biggest challenge being the residential trainings and presential meetings. We had to convert regional seminars into virtual expert meetings, and we are still working on alternative measures for the residential trainings as the pedagogical assets of a presential, intercultural and peer-learning environment can hardly be replaced by a virtual format.
5. Do we have some precedents in regard to global challenges such as the global COVID-19 pandemic and if there are, what do you think we could learn from them?
The Covic-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation – yet it has shown how all countries and peoples can be exposed and affected in a short time by a common challenge or hazard. It has shown also the state of fragility of many countries (including the so-called wealthy states) which have neglected investing in sound public health and educational systems. It also shows the level of interdependency we have reached and how important it is to have a holistic vision when analysing a problem, and that only through unity and concerted actions we can reach durable solutions, for the benefit of all.
6. Could you reflect on the progress of advocating and implementing Global Education in the Republic of Serbia?
GE advocacy and practice in Serbia count on a successful collaboration between the Ministry of Youth and Sports, CSO and Youth organisations – namely through the integration of GE related competences and/or references in the Serbian National Youth Strategy 2015-2025. The growing coordination between the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development can only consolidate this process.
Indeed, the successful implementation of innovative educational policies or pedagogies lays on a sound, coordinated and continuous multistakeholder approach, bringing together policymakers, practitioners and CSO – policymakers need to understand the needs of practitioners and practitioners can guide or contribute to policy development.
7. What do you recognize as the main challenges in further implementing Global Education in Serbia and what could we do to improve?
The main challenge in further implementing GE in the Republic of Serbia, like in any other countries, would be the discontinuity of such coordinated multistakeholder approach. The permanent dialogue and consultation between policymakers, practitioners and CSO is fundamental for all parts.
8. Today, educational tools such as The Fun Park can be made free and widely available for anyone with a smart device and internet access. How does this compare to the old days when educational tools were less available and restrained to physical spaces and does it change how you approach education?
This is an interesting question which tackles the complementarity between the formal and non-formal pedagogies or tools – the added value and specificity of non-formal education is its participatory and learner centred approach, as well as its greater flexibility in terms of pedagogical improvement or increment.
Tools such as The Fun Park exemplify how non-formal tools are an excellent complement to traditional educational tools: its conceptualisation lays on a participatory approach involving the target group/tool recipients; its content and format are flexible and adaptable to the changing needs of the target group and/or the issues to be tackled, in accordance with the regular feedback of users; being adaptable to a smart device and available on internet allows reaching a wider public and practicing at any moment or circumstances, individually or in a group or community, widening its pedagogical impact.
The Fun Park app was designed in accordance to Global Education principles. Find out more about Global Education: