Education International
Education International

For the “Whole Student” – health, education UN Goals must be linked

published 24 October 2016 updated 27 October 2016

Education International and partner organisation ASCD have pledged shared effort on numbers three and four of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, acknowledging that significant progress on either depends upon realising their connection.

In a joint statement released this week, Education International (EI) and ASCD committed to work toward “alignment and integration of planning, policies, and procedures” for SDG 3 (Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) and SDG 4 (Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning).

“The Sustainable Development Goals have numbers, but no goal is separately achievable,” said Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary. “Poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, and stewardship of the planet’s natural resources are inseparable, as are the 11 other goals the world has set for ourselves. Nowhere is this more evident than in regards to health and education.”

The statement notes the rallying cry of EI’s global Unite Campaign that led up to adoption of the fundamental goal language on education: “Access is not enough. We must ensure a quality education for every student. A quality education is one that focuses on the whole child — the social, emotional, mental, physical, and cognitive development of each child regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.”

The EI-ASCD collaboration continues work undertaken by the organisations more than three years ago to advocate for the integration of the health sector into education. And it comes on the heels of the September release of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring report, which, adding new findings and emphasis to its work for the past several years, said education “makes a difference to a range of health issues, including early mortality, reproductive health, spread of disease, healthy lifestyles and well-being.”

ASCD’s executive director and CEO, Deborah S. Delisle called it “imperative that sectors work together. We must place the child in the centre of our work and decisions and array align resources around that child—and every child.”

Founded in the 1940s, ASCD is a global organization focused on teaching and learning and is the leading advocate of the Whole Child approach to education, fostering programmes to “keep all students healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.”

The joint statement notes, “The risk in forging ahead with 17 goals is that we forge ahead with 17 actions, 17 systems and 17 competing forces. It is time to put the child – and all students - at the centre and array resources – including systems, goals, and policies” around them. “The healthy child learns better just as the educated child leads a healthier life. Similarly, a healthier environment—physically as well as socially and emotionally—provides for more effective teaching and learning. Policies, starting at the SDG level, must be crafted and adapted to commit to alignment and integration.”

Said van Leeuwen, “Healthy bodies and minds and communities are a foundation for learning. And quality education is a direct indicator of survival and health sustainability. The Whole Child, the Whole Student, this is the direction of leadership on the SDGs and Education International is proud to join with ASCD in this work.”