Caring for Life (CFL) Education, foundations for emotional intelligence in future generations. Contributing to SDG 2,4,10,12,13,14,15,16&17
ACTAsia CFL focuses on character education by developing student emotional intelligence relating to the core qualities of empathy, responsibility and discerning thinking. These qualities, in turn, nurture the well-being of our children. Later in life, these skills and values result in kindness and respect and translate a more rewarding, compassionate lifestyle. The project was started in 2012 and has reached over 100,000 children through a network of Pioneer schools. Based on the UNESCO “Four Pillars of Education” CFL consists of 60 lessons over 6 years of primary grades. Each lesson has the embeds SDGs and makes them applicable and understandable to children.
CFL’s objective is to ensure the next generation of leaders uses compassion and empathy to lead and considers people, animals and the environment. The curriculum embeds the SDGs into lessons delivered by teachers and fosters open discussion, critical thinking and inquiry led learning. The potential for this intervention to be scaled up and integrated into the national curriculum makes it exceptionally relevant to the SDGs as this would ensure inclusivity for all children who attend school. In 2020, ACTAsia wrote two additional modules to enrich the existing curriculum and to spark interest in two key areas; Climate Change and Biodiversity, these modules further reinforce SDGs in the classroom. Integration of topics through collaborative and inquiry led pedagogy mean that the following SDGs are amplified; 2,4,10,12,13,14,15,16&17.
CFL lessons lend themselves to the SDGs and the examples given in lessons help to translate the goals and make the issues easy to understand and applicable for children. The curriculum continues to reach children both in schools in city areas and also through a remote-teaching online option for children in remote rural areas with some adaptation. The enrichment modules support and further the SDGs through key topics. The curriculum reaches the next generation of decision makers and ensures the SDGs are in the equation, whilst considering people, animals and the environment.
The CFL project is planned annually in line with a 5-year strategy. The Pioneer Network is nurtured and relationship built to ensure cooperation from the Principal and teachers to ensure the curriculum will be well received and advocated for. A teacher training programme and webinar support is offered to Pioneer schools to support with common teaching knowledge gaps such as formative assessment and inquiry led learning techniques. The teachers then go on to deliver the curriculum within lesson time allocated for this subject. Activities. Lessons within our Pioneer Schools start and end within the academic year. Teacher training is planned around summer holiday training days and then bimonthly, school support is offered through online training and a dedicated trainer who is also the ACTAsia point of contact for the school. Monitoring. CFL is monitored through our CFL Project Manager in China. They remain in touch with the Principals and teachers of the Pioneer Schools and hold the Quality Improvement Plan for the network which sets targets for the school to increase their capacity for delivering CFL at a suitable pace and quality of facilitation. Data is collected each term and feedback at each bimonthly webinar. Independent research by the City University of New York, is in place each academic year to collect data on prosocial behaviour, empathy, attitudes to animals and the environment. The results have been published in their own right and demonstrate the curriculum has positive impact in these key areas. Resources. The CFL project costs annually include: salary for the four project officers and one project manager. The team is responsible for the production of support materials/updating to remove barriers to delivery and support teacher training.
100,000 children participated in CFL. Research papers published; migrant students in cities do better in their scores and gain higher improvements in all areas compared with non-migrant children. Left-behind children benefit from an e-learning application where an adapted curriculum is taught online and shared with remote rural schools reaching 30,000 so far. Our research shows that students who participated in the program displayed significantly greater gains in prosociality than similar students who didn’t. Our research also demonstrates significantly stronger increases in their attitudes to environmental issues when following the CFL curriculum. Lessons learned: Teachers training is required support inquiry-led learning. If we were to restart the project elsewhere we would seek government cooperation with a view to the curriculum being adopted into the national curriculum. As an NGO we are limited to how many schools we can support and children we can reach.
Enabling factors include, engaged teachers and leaders with shared vision for a more compassionate society and willingness to learn. Partnerships to reach remote rural areas and left-behind children through use of technology. Partnerships with Pioneer School Network means we can reach children in schools through teachers and use inquiry led pedagogy to improve uptake and develop the basis for skills required for future employment. Innovations; teacher training and reach by webinar. Partnerships enable sharing of the curriculum; Pakistan and Greece. Cost efficiency; use of webinars and social media to deliver teacher training and support.
Sustainability: once teachers are trained and CFL is embedded into the schools’ curriculum the project can maintain itself. Social media groups maintain teacher interest and act as support to new teachers and schools delivering CFL. Enrichment lesson plans support extension of CFL into key subjects. Replicability: The curriculum is available in English and Chinese accessible for schools to adapt to their cultural situation and translate. In 2019 ACTAsia shared the curriculum with Join Hands and Sindh Education Foundation in Pakistan, they are in the planning, translation and adaptation process in readiness to start delivering. The curriculum is flexible, to subjects taught as long as the learning objectives are in place and met the subject areas ensure the content is valid and robust. Our aim is to identify future partnerships which include local or central governments so that they can adopt or integrate Caring for Life into their national curriculum, for every child.
COVID-19 has impacted CFL as schools in lockdown reverted to essential academic subjects. Similarly, in Pakistan the launch of the CFL curriculum has been postponed until schools return in the following academic year. In China we supported teachers to make videos for lessons, put on competitions to keep students engaged and focussed on wildlife trade and how families can show empathy. To build back better, we aim to invest and develop e-learning for our curriculum and increase our partnership with Hu+ to extend our reach to those in remote rural areas. COVID-19 has seen Pioneer teachers become recognised role models for students, supporting resilience, showing compassion, working for a civic good and solving problems in different ways, the teachers have shown they care for life.
SDGS & Targets
Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Deliverables & Timeline
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China and Pakistan sub-national level through provincial schools. In China our coverage is nationwide through a partnership with technology e-learning app Hu+ to reach remote rural areas. Partner OMU in Greece has a view to implement in Primary Schools.