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TAMK exports training on sustainable development for teachers in Chile's most vulnerable areas

Published on 15.4.2021
Tampere University of Applied Sciences
From schools, the themes of sustainable development can spread into families, communities, and ultimately the society as a whole. The co-operation between Tampere University of Applied Sciences and SOFOFA has aroused interest even among Chilean ministers.

TAMK's pilot training Aula Sostenible (in English: sustainable classroom) began with a solemn online event. The opening ceremony was attended by the Ambassador of Finland to Chile Eija Rotinen, Minister of Social Development and Family Karla Rubilar, and Minister of Environment Carolina Schmidt.

The programme is offered by the Federation of Chilean Industry SOFOFA and funded by various Chilean companies and industry representatives. It aims to train a number of Chilean teachers on sustainable development. The participants work at different levels of education from basic education to adult education.

Elina Harju, a TAMK lecturer who teaches at Aula Sostenible, says that the themes of the programme are strictly linked to the UN's sustainable development goals. The programme will therefore address both environmental and social sustainability issues. According to Harju, sustainable development will inevitably come to classrooms all across the world:

– It just happens to be the most important thing in the world. Whatever we do, we should think about sustainable development – and much more boldly than today.

As in the rest of the world, Chile is currently working hard to achieve the UN’s goals by 2030. There are many effective openings and projects already in the making, but more work is still to be done, especially in the most vulnerable areas.

Some of the participants of Aula Sostenible come from the Metropolian region of Chile, but most of the participants live and work in the geologically and socially challenging Valparaíso area. Valparaíso is the second most populous region in Chile. The effects of climate change are already very visible in the area. Drought, among other things, has caused serious problems in the region in recent years and fresh drinking water reserves are under threat. There are also many social problems in the area.

The goal of Aula Sostenible training programme is to spread the themes of sustainable development through schools into the entire community. When the themes of sustainable development are addressed in school, children learn to look at the lives of their own family and their immediate community from the perspective of sustainability. They might start to question the habits adults around them are implementing. In the future, the same children will grow into sustainably responsible adults.

Already during the programme, teachers bring the themes of sustainable development into concrete actions through a development project. In the development project, participants work to develop a locally significant sustainability theme, possibly in collaboration with local businesses. TAMK teachers guide and mentor participants during the development project.

One of the UN's goals for sustainable development is quality education. The Aula Sostenible programme provides teachers with not only information about sustainable development goals, but also with concrete pedagogical tools for developing their own work. The principles of Finnish pedagogy, such as co-operation and active participation, are closely linked to the goals of quality education and social sustainability.

When Elina Harju briefly introduced the Finnish education model to the Chilean teachers at the first meeting, they were especially impressed by one thing:

– They emphasised very strongly that children get to play in the Finnish system: how we start school so late, and how we still play at the school after that. It clearly resonated with the participants, Harju describes.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, the pilot training takes place entirely online. The online implementation across the Atlantic has started smoothly, as both TAMK teachers and the Chilean participants are already experienced users of online learning tools. In the future, it is possible that some groups of Chilean teachers will also be able to visit Finland and thus get to know the Finnish education system even more concretely.

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