Sustainable Development Goals in the Classroom: Slovak Teachers' Workshops at the UN in Vienna

"Students are not only supposed to sit and listen - they have a better chance to understand the Sustainable Development Goals when we speak in their language and provide interactive and modern lessons."

Andrej Žitňan, Participant of the UNIS Teachers Workshop

Thirteen secondary school teachers from all over Slovakia had the chance to attend a workshop on "Teaching the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals" and visited the Vienna International Centre (VIC) on 11 November 2016. The workshop gave the participants an overview of the work and priorities of the United Nations, especially the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to bring these topics into their classrooms. It was organized by the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) Vienna in cooperation with the Pedagogical Institute Bratislava and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Office in Austria.

The participants started off with a guided tour of the VIC and were welcomed to the UN headquarters in Vienna by Ambassador Olga Algayerova, Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the United Nations (Vienna), and UNIS Vienna Director, Martin Nesirky.

Afterwards Irene Höglinger-Neiva, Marietta Möhlen, and Angelika Lauber from UNIS Vienna presented a wide range of teaching resources, offered by UNIS Vienna and other UN organizations. The teaching tools are available online and can easily be used by teachers for a lesson on the SDGs to help children understand the importance of sustainable development. The teachers highly appreciated finding out about the teaching material presented: "Using social media, games and presentations is perfect to bring the SDGs closer to the students", said one of the teachers from Bratislava.

The workshop programme also provided an introduction to the offers of the United Nations Visitors Service for school classes by Renée Malnig from the UNIS Visitors Service. In this session the teachers found out how to visit the VIC with their students and which different options are available, such as the Sustainable Development Tour or the Human Rights Tour.

Ruth Schöffl from the UNHCR Office in Austria then gave a presentation about the current situation of refugees in Europe and introduced available teaching material, providing the teachers with background information and good tips on how to deal with this topic in school.

The participants were very happy about the variety of resources and hands-on teaching material that had been presented. "The games are great to use in class beside the normal classes," said a teacher from Galanta. Right after the workshop many of the participants said they would plan a visit to the United Nations Office in Vienna with their students including taking the Sustainable Development Tour.