Interview with the national coordinator for Global education from Slovenia

12.10.2021. - CZOR

 

National coordinator for Slovenia – SLOGA

In light of the announcement of the Global Education Week for the year 2021, an event which represents a collective effort of the whole Global Education Network to organize activities during the third week of November with the goal of popularising the Global Education concept, we are starting an interview series with National Coordinators for Global education from different countries. We started with Patricija Virtic, who presented the current state of Global education in Slovenia in front of the Slovenian National coordinator – SLOGA.

 

Good afternoon Patricija how are you? Thank you for meeting us and taking your time to answer our questions. To begin with, could you tell us something about yourself, your position, and your role in Global Education?

Thank you for the invitation!

I am a former journalist, now Projects Manager and Head of Global Education at SLOGA, platform of Slovene NGOs for development, global education and humanitarian aid. I developed and managed several projects funded by EU, Slovene government and private funds, focusing on Global Citizenship Education, Awareness Raising, Development Cooperation, Gender Equality, Youth, Social and Solidarity Economy, Migration, Democracy, Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development Goals. I am a co-author of publications and manuals. I regularly speak at national and international events, workshops, seminars and trainings on Global Citizenship Education and other topics. I believe in the power of change and transformation. I am one of those people that like to step in the shoes of other people or look on the issue from another perspective. I am a firm believer in global education and its power to bring us to more just and sustainable world.

 

What does Global Education represent to you, and in which way/s has being a member of the Global Education Network influenced your organization?

For me personally, GE is actually a way of life, a way of thinking and acting in everyday life. It is what I do and don’t do in my family, community, at work, at elections. It is how I perceive the world, how I am addressing the global challenges. It is a global dimension in my own home. It forces me to think, re-think, learn and even un-learn constantly. You can never be fluent in GE, it is a lifelong and lifewide process. It is opening my eyes for so many things!

SLOGA, an NGO platform where I work as Head of Global Education, can be loosely translated as working together, united, in unity. That’s why we believe it is crucial to work together. Being a member of the Global Education Network is an honor and duty. It represents a space, a platform were we can learn and share, shape and develop. It connects us with our coleagues from other countries and sectors so we can, together, work towards the implementation of SDG 4.7 in own countries, Europe and beyond.

 

Why do you think Global Education is important for young people, and how can they benefit from it?

We live in a globalized world in which people’s lives are strongly intertwined and the actions of people at one end of the world affect life at the other. As Martin Luther King, a U.S. civil rights activist, said, when you eat your breakfast, you’re already dependent on half the world. Cocoa from Ghana, coffee from Ethiopia, palm oil from Indonesia, bananas and orange juice from Brazil … Because of this intertwining and interdependence, it is crucial that as individuals we are aware of our role in the world and take responsibility for our actions.

The world we live in has witnessed unimaginable changes over the last century. For many, these were changes for the better – they brought a higher standard of living for many people, and increased people’s life expectancy. Technological advances have united the world into a single great global society and people into global citizens. But it is becoming increasingly clear that these changes have also had a number of negative consequences – a drastic increase in the world’s population, an extremely rapid development in science and technology that has led to changes in people’s lifestyles in industrialized parts of the world. All this has created problems of global proportions and has significantly deepened the state of imbalance in the world.

The world, its inhabitants and nature therefore need a more sustainable way of living and working. Sustainable development presupposes the coherence of development, care for the environment, care for all living beings on Earth and social justice, and thus enables the preservation of the planet from future generations. It meets the needs of the current human race without compromising the needs of future generations.

It seems impossible for the average person to make a difference. Should we surrender to fate? No! Change begins with each individual. Every human being on Earth – even the most indifferent and lazy person among us – is part of the solution. Fortunately, there are some very simple things that anyone can incorporate into their daily routines and contribute to the solution. If we all do that, we will make a big difference. And we need young people to do just that – hold their peers, adults, government accountable. We are all a part of this world, if we like it or not!

Global Citizenship Education is the key to achieving all Sustainable Development Goals as it works not only by empowering learners of all ages to understand that these are global, not local issues but also to become active promoters of more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable societies. Societies that will take a much needed stand and action for dealing with global issues. So, we have the plan, we have the tool. What is stopping us?

Could you reflect on the progress of advocating and implementing Global Education in the Republic of Slovenia and how has the COVID pandemic influenced the realization of your plans/goals.

In Slovenia, the topics of human rights, development and international development cooperation, intercultural dialogue, tolerance and migration are usually addressed within the context of Global Citizenship Education in formal education and non-formal and informal learning settings. Within formal education, teachers face systemic shortcomings while integrating Global Citizenship Education, such as time constraints, unsystematic and sporadic integration of the global dimension related to the interest and willingness of individual teachers and one of the key bases for integration of Global Citizenship Education: support from school management and other colleagues.

NGOs active in the field of Global Citizenship Education have been emphasizing the importance of Global Citizenship Education as a key tool for an inclusive sustainable society for many years. Within the SLOGA platform, there is a Global Citizenship Education Work field, which brings together NGOs, practitioners and academics and strives to strengthen and upgrade the field and connect stakeholders. NGOs carry out a number of Global Citizenship Education projects and advocacy activities.

In the past years, two important documents have been drafted in the field of Global Citizenship Education in which NGO actors have played a key role: ‘Analysis of Global Citizenship Education in Slovenia and recommendations for its further strengthening’ and ‘Guidelines for Global Citizenship Education – a contribution to achieving the SDGs’.

Slovenian NGOs are often awarded and recognized for their work in the field of Global Citizenship Education. Projects by Slovenian NGOs can be found among the best practices of Global Citizenship Education, selected annually by Global Education Network Europe – GENE.

Besides cancelation of some face-to-face activities or moving them online, covid-19 pandemic has also made us reflect on the GE and our implementation of workshops. We had several reflection meeting on the need of digitalization of GE. Are all activities suitable to be held online? What tools are out there to help us and which need to be developed? Are we true to the fundamental core of GE, which is reflection, when having workshop? How to boost participation of the participants? Could /Should we have workshops online in the light of Zoom fatigue? Is this really GE or “just” awareness raising activity? How to transform, adopt materials to be suitable to work online, when the participation is form the individual and not a group? We haven’t got all the answers, but it was a wake-up call for many of us.

Besides the COVID pandemic, what are the main obstacles that you faced during the implementation of Global Education in your country, and what can be done to overcome those obstacles?

GE is quite developed in Slovenia, however it is perceived by general public and some governmental officials as “the NGO thing”, therefore it is hard to penetrate the NGO bubble. Funding would be another obstacle. We don’t have long term programme financing for GCE, majority of activities are depended on calls for proposals. Slovene NGOs are among the best in implementing EU funded project, however that leaves us depended on the flow of those calls. At the same time priorities of those projects are defined for many countries as the same time, leaving less room for national realities. Lacking of flexibility of those projects is also one issue, which was evident during the global lockdown.

I think many countries can also identify with our obstacles, so we are looking for solutions to this challenges together.

What are your plans for this year, and how will the state of the COVID pandemic influence them?

Our plans for this year’s implementation of the global education activities are quite big, despite the covid-19 restrictions that are again getting bigger and bigger each day and are forcing us to rearrange our activities. In this regard, we are always having a plan B, in case we have to move activities online. Covid pandemic has also influenced on the number of activities and the number of participants to those activities, as the number is limited by the government.

The presidency of the Council of the European Union, is currently, as of July 2021, held by Slovenia and that is always at the back of our plans if not in the forefront. By the end of the year, several GCE event will take place, including national GCE conference on 9th of November, an event on transformative education as a pre-event of the 5th UNESCO Forum on Transformative Education for Sustainable Development, Global Citizenship, Health and Well-being, where I am a part of the Slovenian delegation.

Currently, we are deep into The Lifelong Learning Weeks (LLLW), a learning festival organized by the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE) and an ever growing number of providers of events acting in various places in the country as well as beyond its frontiers. The aim of LLW is to present and emphasise the manifold aspects of lifelong learning, that includes global education. We have been thematic coordinators for GE for several years now, bringing GE to new audiences. Together with SIAE we are also organizing an advocacy event on climate change on October 5th.

In the light of the SDG day (25. September) we will publish Slovenian edition of World Best News. We will be distributing printed newspaper with only good news on global issues and the implementation of the Agenda 2030, launch a website, a newsletter and have a social media campaign.

In October we will start, together with The United Nations Association for Slovenia, the literary and photographic competition for youth on the theme of GCE, human rights and SDG 6, which we will conclude with the event on Human rights day in December.

In November, we start with Global Education Week activities. We are also hoping of hosting Global Education Network of NSC meeting in the beginning of December in Slovenia.

We just launched a new website dedicated to global education – www.globalno-ucenje.si.We are going to start with the implementation of our renewed Code of Images and Messages. We are also hoping to conclude the process of finding SLOGA’s new definition of GE, as the last one if from 2008 and needs to be updated.

As you can see, loads of events and activities. This is, in fact, always the busiest part of the year for SLOGA and our members.

 

How informed are young people in your country about the concept of Global Education and how interested are they to participate in activities regarding Global Education?

Uf, that is a hard question! We don’t have data on this, so we can only speculate. However, as part of the PISA 2018 survey, we obtained, for the first time in Slovenia, international data on the global competencies of 15-year-olds who, together with peers from 66 countries, assessed their own global competence (defined as multidimensional skills different views and attitudes, successful and respectful cooperation with others and active action for collective well-being and sustainable development). Compared to students from OECD countries, Slovenian teenagers on average report lower perceived self-efficacy in explaining global issues, poorer interest in learning about other cultures, less positive attitudes towards immigrants, poorer intercultural communication skills and poorer response to various global issues. Slovenian 15-year-olds also reported less frequent involvement in individual activities related to global education at school.

GE is not a part of the school curriculum, however Education for sustainable development (ESD) is. And we all know those are two sides of the same coin, so they go hand in hand. If ESD was more focused on environment dimension in the past, GE was always emphasizing the three (or even four) dimensions of sustainable development. The two concepts are getting closer and closer. We are actually starting the discussion if it would be better to use the term transformative education.

As for the interest in participating in GE activities, my personal opinion is that youth is interested – of approached and motivated. It is the job of adults to prepare, event invent, methodologies and tools that will be positively accepted by the youngsters. Global competences, that GE is helping to develop, is of paramount importance for the successful life of individuals and society in an increasingly connected and changing world.

 

Global Education Week is being held this year also, from November 15th until November 21st. This is a week during which all country members will organize different activities, with the aim of raising awareness about Global Education. How do you plan to mark Global Education Week; which activities are you going to organize, and how do you plan on conducting them?

In Slovenia, we have decided a couple of years back, we will devote the whole month of November to GE, with the peek during the mentioned dates. Prior to pandemic we had around 70-100 events each year. Since covid-19 hit, those numbers dropped and we expect lower number this year as well.

We don’t have the events from schools, NGOs, libraries etc. for this year yet, as we all wait what we will be able to organize. Regarding SLOGA’s activities, I have mentioned several events already. We will also have another round of promotional activities connected to World’s Best News, we are planning a social media campaign, we will be launching a SDG Talks video on GEW and GE and some new quizzes on Fun Park app. We will have several GE workshops around Slovenia and meeting of SLOGA’s GE working field.

 

Find out more about Global Education:

Global Education Programme

Global Education Network

Global Education Week