"La Inmaculada" school in Bilbao, which belongs to the Jesuitinas Educational Foundation, has become the first educational centre to be certified in sustainable development culture by the United Nations. ODS Certificate, the institution that validates this recognition, wanted to highlight that the commitment to take on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been made from an integral perspective, covering all educational stages and above all, because it has wanted to go beyond simple didactics.

Background

In recent years, the school has been incorporating the challenges of Integral Ecology into school life: first the Millennium Development Goals, then the school Agenda 21 and now the 2030 Agenda.

The pandemic had an impact on them and, during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 school years, they became more aware of two aspects that they were questioning:

- On the one hand, during the months of strict confinement, while we people were at home, the water quality of rivers and oceans improved, pollution decreased, animals moved closer to cities, plants breathed a sigh of relief without cars and industries....

- On the other hand, isolation and lack of physical contact between people led to a striking increase in mental illness. Without affectivity, without quality human relationships, people become ill.

A call to action

Faced with this, they decided to incorporate in the 2020-21 academic year, together with the COVID 19 Contingency Plan, an Emotional Education Plan that would help reduce the impact of the restrictions and give them tools to strengthen themselves in the face of such an adverse and distressing situation. But some questions remained to be answered:

"What do we do with the planet? How can we contribute to reducing inequalities, curbing climate change, fighting hunger and injustice?"

Their approach led them to integral ecology to discern how to inhabit the earth, seeking greater harmony between human beings and nature.

Getting started

They contacted ODS Certificate, an entity specialised in promoting, guiding and accompanying educational institutions in their efforts to implement the culture of sustainable development as a fundamental pillar for young people to participate in shaping a better world.

The first step in the certification process was a diagnosis of the centre with respect to the SDGs in its management and pedagogical areas, with the participation of students, teachers, the innovation team and the management team. Based on the results, teacher training and the implementation of the SDG Experiential strategic plan were planned and carried out during the 2021-22 academic year.

The first objective in the strategic phase was to incorporate SDG values into our Mission, Vision and Values and to establish a commitment with the teaching staff on the actions to be taken to incorporate the SDGs into the curricula of the areas and interdisciplinary projects. To lead this challenge, a tractor team of 6 people was created, 5 teachers from different stages and the head teacher. Coordination with the teaching staff and the support of the 24 eco-delegates have made it possible to achieve the goals.

Recognition

On 17 May was the final audit and, once sufficient evidence had been gathered to accredit that the centre met the necessary criteria to be considered an ODS Culture Centre according to international standards, the United Nations Institute for Training and Leadership Development, CIFAL Malaga-UNITAR, through ODS Certificate, certified that the Jesuitinas Bilbao school was worthy of this distinction.

The school states that "the challenge has been to go from knowing the 2030 Agenda and the problems posed by the SDGs to Thinking, Feeling and Doing in order to carry out specific actions that become commitments".

Projects such as "Bilboko Babesa", "Plástico 0", "Los pulmones del mundo", "La comida no se tira" or "Green power Jesuitinas" are examples of the involvement of this educational community with change.

Josune Extremiana, director of Jesuitinas Bilbao, shared these words at the presentation of the award:

"Our foundress, Saint Candida, created the Congregation and the schools of the Daughters of Jesus in 1871 to give girls and young women of the time the opportunity to access education and culture. She wanted them to be freer and more in control of their destiny. Today we call this women's empowerment and we frame it under SDG 5 Gender Equality. Well, without knowing the mandates of the 2030 Agenda, she already sensed that education has enormous potential for social transformation.

Over time, this legacy has evolved and adapted to meet the needs of the times. The initial universalism that was limited to the care of girls from all social classes, with special dedication to the poorest and his advice to always use the most joyful method, today we translate it into an educational project that is open to all, inclusive, participatory and innovative. We cultivate and embrace our Basque culture and at the same time we incorporate the values of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda in a cross-cutting manner in the curriculum of the areas and projects at all educational levels, to train citizens of the world".

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