GAP’s work since COVID-19 has been submitted to The Centre for Global Education journal Policy and Practice. They have created a special collection of 12 short articles exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Development Education practice. Check out our reflective piece featured in the journal below!
COVID-19: Developments in Development Education
It has been eleven weeks since our team at Global Action Plan (GAP), like many others across Ireland, packed up what we needed to work from home, for what was thought to be a two-week lockdown. With our mitigation plans for the weeks to come, we did not envision the reality that COVID-19 would soon bring to Ireland. As practitioners of development education, we harnessed the current crisis to continue to work as normally as possible, while continuing to reach out to and support the groups we serve. We used this unusual opportunity to step outside of our comfort zones and adjust how we deliver our educational workshops, in order to maintain continuity.
Our ‘Action on Global Citizenship’ programme engages secondary school teachers and leaders with global citizenship education (GCE) through an environmental lens. In adapting to school closures, we swiftly reviewed and converted how we normally deliver our teacher training programme to an online format. Utilising resources like Google Slides, Slido, Zoom and Breakout Rooms, while benefiting from resources that the Irish Development Education Association (IDEA) shared with their members, we delivered participant focused, interactive sessions in which participants were guided through the ‘head, heart and hand’ methodology of transformational learning. We have delivered five online webinars for teachers of GCE with 67 participants from all around the country attending. Feedback from these sessions noted an appreciation in having access to trainings like these, which are often only available in certain areas of Ireland and normally incur additional costs to schools (e.g. travel, time). We have learned how to better work and engage with these groups, but also those who we have not yet engaged with – an important learning as we work towards the sustainable development goals (SDGs) together to not leave anyone behind.
As an environmental education charity, our GLAS Community Garden in Ballymun serves as an outdoor learning centre and safe social space in which to learn. We serve groups with varying abilities, skills, ages and backgrounds who are eager to continue their work in the garden. While the garden closed, it has not stopped GAP from making an impact. We are in the process of delivering gardening packs to nearly 200 homes in North Dublin. Support to these homes will be provided either via video calls or YouTube tutorials. Our focus is on supporting elderly members of the community and families with young children for whom these packs will bring the joys of growing to their door with the support they need to get the most out of it. These live tutorials demonstrated to community members that no matter what space or resources you have, you can still grow your own from your home. We are thankful for our funders who enabled us to send out gardening packs to these participants in order for us to continue to provide continuity, education and an activity that supports positive mental health.
The past few months have taught us the importance of pausing, reflecting and listening. In response to our adapted programmes, we understand the need to continually plan adaptability and inclusivity into creating educational resources and workshops so that we continue to serve the needs of our groups. We have received positive feedback that additional online resources and pre-recorded videos would be useful long-term which is something we now plan to continue to work towards.