On Wednesday July 19th, educators participating in the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad program met with the President of Costa Rica, Mrs. Laura Chinchilla, as well as the Minister of Planning, Mr. Roberto Fajardo, and the Viceminister of Planning, Mrs. Sylvia Hernandez. This meeting was coordinated by Michigan State University, in collaboration with the Earth Charter International Secretariat. The aim of the Michigan State program is to offer these 15 educators the opportunity to learn about Costa Rican culture, improve Spanish language skills, and develop curriculum for the classroom focusing on Costa Rica’s progress towards the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
During the meeting with Mrs. President Chinchilla, participants had the opportunity to raise several questions related not only to Costa Rica’s policies and strategic actions to promote human development and sustainability, but also her personal reflections as the first female President of this country.
Some interesting points that were raised were the fact that Costa Rica had already achieved most of the MDGs, therefore the government has pledged to the United Nations to identify other goals that would go further than what was expected with the MDGs.
The Earth Charter Center for ESD was in charge of the orientation of this group of teachers, offering an overview of Costa Rica’s development using the Earth Charter perspective, as well as bringing up the importance of education for sustainable development to bring about the changes we want to see in the world.
Apart from the important meeting with President Chinchilla and the Minister and Viceminister of Planning, the group met with the Minister of Women’s Issues and President of the National Institute for Women, the Viceminister of Public Education and the focal point for the Convention of Biodiversity and staff member of the Ministry of Environment. In all these meetings, the group learned about specific projects and actions related to gender equality, access to education, and environmental sustainability.
Another important activity was a meeting with fellow Costa Rican teachers, during which they had the opportunity to learn first-hand about what it means to be a teacher in this country, about the challenges and advantages. They also shared in groups about different methodologies and strategies to teach topics related to sustainability and the Millennium Development Goals. This meeting took place at the National University of Costa Rica in Heredia, and was possible thanks to the support of this University’s Earth Charter group and the Costa Rican UNESCO Commission.
This was just the first week of this program, there are still 4 weeks to go in different places in Costa Rica including Monteverde, Flamingo, Osa Peninsula, Turrialba, Manuel Antonio. This will be a great adventure for all these teachers!
Watch the video below to see and hear some reflections from the participants about the orientation at the Earth Charter Center for ESD.