Friday, July 10, 2015

Education and Sustainable Development Goals - Notes on the HLPF

Notes on the HLPF *
Gihan Sami Soliman 

Having been there; participating in the High Level Political Forum (HLPG) [1], while the world is about to enter a voluntary commitment towards the conservation of life, equality for all and sustainable development is a breath-taking life experience.

In spite of the glory of the historic moments, and the utopic 17 proposed goals, I must say that I had the impression that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) needed to have been more interrelated, and that they do not automatically link to the common stakeholders/right holders; perhaps due - on one dimension, to the sophisticated nature and language of the UN documents (as well as processes). It was the smartest intervention of all (proposed by the Women's Major Group) that women’s rights for equality must cut across all goals, in addition to standing alone in Goal 5. Actually with a broader vision, all goals need to cut across all other goals and relate meaningfully to the current social structures (and concepts). Life is a complex multidimensional phenomenon and so must be our solutions to conserve it.

On Education and Communication 

Irelation to Goal 4 – that is “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education”, as it related to all the rest of the seventeen goals. 

  • While ensuring the appreciation of cultural diversity (4.7), priority must be given to promoting the human rights of girls and women, in case values conflict. So much of the violence against women - including the horrific FGM, is culturally sanctioned and reinforced. This corona of sacredness we set around cultures must fall off. We surely need to keep respecting all people (i.e. each other) in their diverse beliefs, but not  necessarily sanctify all cultures or beliefs as a result. Cultures need to evolve; take the good sides and leave the maladaptive ones as we grow and advance in civilization. Quality education must promote, above all, values of justice and stresses a sort of beyond-cultural-diversity approach to human rights. 
  • My major concern is that social sciences have been (almost totally) disregarded in the GSDR 2015 (Global Sustainable Development Report 2015). The need for aligning objectives among stakeholders has been overlooked as a result. The SDGs, as they are, will conflict not only with the current economic structures, but also many of the concepts steering our life organisation. How is this going to be addressed in terms of education and communication? Giving in to the dynamics of free market, and neo-liberalism, shifts the power from politicians to businessmen, and the later would continue to act based on a distorted interpretation of the "survival of the fittest" paradigm.* That's not because they are evil, but because this is how things seem to have been working well for decades. Have you ever heard a liberalist calling equality among people “immoral”? I have. Whether such a view is valid or invalid, how come that it has never been tackled in the GSDR 2015? Because social sciences are not science enough?                                                                                                                                                
  • Education in the GSDR 2015 seems to be only about development rather than sustainable development; tackling skills rather than ethics. What skills do we need to teach our children to stop violence against women or embrace the values of equality, tolerance  or diversity? The term ethics does not even occur (significantly) throughout the report. Without communicating the evolutionary ethics behind the SDGs (which actually link them together) to all stakeholders, the SDGs might remain unattainable. 

-       This is also significant while addressing Goal 10: 

While working to reducinequality within and among countries (G10)It would be useful to acknowledge the fact that much of today’s poverty is not a result of lacking resources, but rather links to existing (well-established) cultural, economic and political structures dominating our life organisation(s). It is important for the purposes of education and communication to clearly identify a new era of a global solidarity for conservation of life and survival of our human kind, so as to advise all stakeholders of the significant transformation in case it conflicts with any existing systems or concepts.

Addressing such cognitive gaps, does not have to be all the role of the HLPF, but it requires –at least, acknowledgement and extra support to educational organisations working to promote the SDGs, and a focus on interdisciplinary holistic scientific research and publication.
* Although Neo-libralism has not been frankly associated with the so called Social Darwinism – and most of social Darwinists have not frankly called themselves as such. But it was Herbert Spencer, a liberal utilitarian, who established the “survival of the fittest” natural fallacy by trading heavily in the evolution paradigm so as to explain how the liberal utilitarian logic of justice emerges (Stanford Encyclopedia). 

للقراءة باللغة العربية

* Draft shared with several civil society world organisations earlier.

No comments:

Post a Comment