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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

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 (
Non-governmental organization (NGO)

    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.

    Implementation of the Project/Activity

    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 and constraints

    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 and replicability

    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.

    Other sources of information

    COVID-19 Impact

    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.

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    This initiative does not yet fulfil the SMART criteria.
    01 January 2012 (start date)
    01 January 2024 (date of completion)
    Other beneficiaries

    Children, Teachers, Parents and Communities of Schools that deliver the curriculum all benefit from the programme in China, Pakistan and soon to join, Greece. Partnerships are integral and support capacity building of NGO’s and schools through training and support to develop high quality education programmes within formal settings that spillover to the families and communities is seen anecdotally once this curriculum is embedded.

    More information
    Contact Information

    Dawn, Director of Programmes