Monday, 22 April 2019


A teacher enters a classroom and is surprised to find that the students who should be waiting for him are all missing.
“It’s as if their absence is sending a message,” he muses in consternation.
In fact, there is a message. Written on the desks are letters that taken together spell: “STOP GLOBAL WARMING NOW”.
Cartoon by Floris Oudshoorn, done at ICSW 2019.
This is the storyline of a cartoon titled “The Educators” by Amsterdam-based artist Floris Oudshoorn, who participated in sessions on global citizen education during International Civil Society Week (ICSW) - an annual meeting held this year in Belgrade, Serbia, from April 8 to 12.
Co-hosted by the Johannesburg-based global civil society alliance CIVICUS, the event brought together more than 850 delegates from around the world to focus on the protection of “democratic values” and human rights, amidst increasing attacks on rights defenders.
Oudshoorn said his cartoon was a shout-out to the students participating in the weekly climate strikes in various countries, calling on governments to act to decrease emissions and fight climate change.
During ICSW, Oudshoorn produced a series of live drawings that reflected the topics addressed by Bridge 47, a Finland-based organization created “to bring people together to share and learn from each other” with the help of global citizenship education.
This system of civic learning puts emphasis on rights, environmental awareness and social justice - subjects that engaged participants during Bridge 47’s four ICSW sessions, held under the title “Global Citizenship Education: Recalibrating Action for Systemic Change”.
“With members hailing from all continents of the world and a total of 48 countries, the gathering provided a dynamic hub for exchanging experiences and perspectives on the different types of value-based education,” Bridge 47 stated.
Rilli Lappalainen, founder of Bridge 47.
The organization used storytelling, art, communication activities and other techniques to provide its members with “new ideas and tools” to employ global citizenship education for social change.
Rilli Lappalainen, Bridge 47’s founder and steering group chair, said that the Belgrade meeting demonstrated that civil-society groups and others (educators, artists, policy-makers) need to work together.
“It showed how we need to allow the space for dialogue, and that dialogue is the essence of peaceful society. If we really want to make a change, we need to communicate and cooperate, rather than everyone sitting in their own box.”
Besides “getting to know each other and strengthening their work”, Bridge 47 Network members also had the opportunity to explore other topics among the host of ICSW event sessions. These included issues such as shrinking civic space, attacks on press freedom, and the engagement of youth, which Oudshoorn covered in his cartoons.
The Bridge 47 sessions were also open to those outside the organization’s network “in order to further disseminate information” about global citizenship education as well as to “facilitate new, cross-sectoral partnerships amongst the international civil society community”, the group stated.
Bridge 47’s name comes from “Target 4.7” of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set in 2015 for achievement by 2030.
Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Target 4.7 is to ensure that by 2030 “all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development” through education that includes “human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.
African educator Bolanle Simeon-Fayomi uses story-telling
for global citizenship education, at ICSW 2019.
Photo courtesy of Troy Bjorkman / Bridge 47.
For the UN, an “indicator” of Target 4.7 is the “extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed” at all levels.
Lappalainen said that formal education “is absolutely needed” for this mainstreaming but that it’s not enough.
“We need to recognize the importance of learning outside of the school system. Part of our work is that we advocate for governments to give the space and respect for this kind of education,” he said.
A key exercise during Bridge 47’s sessions was storytelling, done verbally by lecturers such as Nigeria’s Bolanle Simeon-Fayomi who focuses on literacy for development, or communicated through the written word or art.
In the case of cartoonist Oudshoorn, his work is a means to educate the public by using satire to effect social change, to promote rights and sustainability, and to help defend activists.
“As cartoonists, we’re between artists and journalists,” he told SWAN. “And one of the first things that autocrats try to rub out is journalists and artists. So, I’m in the crosshairs as well.” 
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For more information about ICSW, see IPS news agency stories, including: