For educators, by educators: teacher-driven innovations to achieve SDGs in Ukraine

Teachers are actors on the ground, accelerating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is crucial for improving people’s lives and building a better future locally and globally. To discuss how teachers can contribute to greater transparency and integrity, over 1,000 educators from Ukraine and abroad got together on 2–3 July 2018 in Kharkiv at the UNDP-supported EdCamp event.

What is EdCamp

Born in 2010 as an alternative to traditional professional development events for teachers, the EdCamp initiative has evolved, from a small group of 11 U.S. educators striving for change, into a global movement in 35 countries that have hosted more than 1,500 EdCamps in the last eight years.

Ukraine was among pioneer countries — the 9th in the world and the 3rd in Europe to join this international movement. The largest community outside the United States, EdСamp Ukraine has 15,000 followers.

Such do-it-yourself un-conferences are designed and led by the educators themselves, where an agenda is shaped by all participants and where conversation and collaboration are paramount. “It’s a place where everyone is a learner, and everyone is a leader,” the EdCamp Foundation states.

Doing it the transparent way

This year’s theme of the EdCamp un-conference was “Doing it the transparent way!” to discuss the best ways of developing ethical standards, tackling corruption, and promoting best practices of quality and integrity through education.

We can only achieve the 2030 Agenda if our institutions, including schools, are based on the principles of transparency, integrity, accountability, the use of technology and innovations, respect for human rights, and inclusiveness,” said UNDP Democratic Governance Team Lead Marcus Brand.

Among the various topics brought up for discussions at the EdCamp, UNDP raised important issues such as “Gender and corruption,” “Human rights based approach,” and “Anti-corruption for children.”

Teaching children about anti-corruption

Why is it important to speak to children about corruption and ways of fighting this scourge? About 20 school students from eastern Ukraine came to the EdCamp to participate in a UNDP-designed lesson on anti-corruption.

I’ve heard something about bribes before, but now I know about the harmful consequences of corruption, and I realize it’s a big problem for people around the world and in Ukraine,” said Artem, one of the students who took part in the lesson.

In addition to the national EdCamp in Kharkiv, UNDP also supported so-called mini-EdCamps held in 15 Ukrainian cities and towns throughout 2017–2018. This cooperation resulted in almost 3,000 teachers being provided with an anti-corruption lesson developed by UNDP and EdEra and being taught how to use it in their classrooms. The Ministry of Education recommended that the lesson be taught on International Anti-Corruption Day, on December 9. As a result, in 2017, over 20,200 students in 148 schools in all 24 oblasts of Ukraine learned about corruption and how to eradicate it.

Breaking records

Raising the bar in the number of innovative practices shared at the EdCamp, teachers also organized a record-breaking flash-mob devoted to the safety of schoolchildren.

Working together is critical, and not only for taking concrete steps towards greater goals — it also helps to build trust and a feeling of support: Teachers are not alone in being special — in being active, responsible, creative, daring and open to innovations in their profession.

This initiative was supported by the Enhanced Public Sector Transparency and Integrity Project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ukraine and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.