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Irish Aid to launch new Development Education Strategy

The Irish Aid Development Education Strategy 2017-2023 will be launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan, TD, and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe Mc Hugh, TD, on 21st December in Iveagh House, Dublin.  The goal of development education is that people in Ireland are empowered to analyse and challenge the root causes and consequences of global hunger, poverty, inequality, injustice and climate change, inspiring and enabling them to become active global citizens in the creation of a fairer and more sustainable future for all.  Increasing awareness in Ireland of the rapidly changing, interdependent and unequal world in which we live is a key component in Irish Aid’s goal to tackle global poverty and injustice, to promote peace and democracy and to safeguard human rights.

At the core of Ireland’s foreign policy, The Global Island (2015), is the protection of our citizens and the promotion of our values abroad.  The four core values underpinning our foreign policy are a fairer, more just, more secure and more sustainable world.  Irish Aid promotes these values abroad through our international development programme and at home through our development education programme.  In an increasingly globalised world facing profound and prolonged conflicts which are generating surges in migration, sustained poverty and environmental degradation, the need for education that promotes informed, coherent and sustained responses to these challenges has never been more apparent.  Development education promotes citizenship literacy by deepening understanding of global justice issues and Ireland’s core values, advancing our foreign policy aim of contributing to the collective international effort to build a better world for all.  

A major stage in the development of our strategy was the GENE Peer Review and GENE National Report on Global Education in Ireland (2015).  The Global Education Network Europe, or GENE, is the European network of ministries, agencies and other bodies with responsibility at national level for support, funding and policy-making in the field of Global Education or Development Education.  In 2015, Irish Aid invited GENE to conduct a Peer Review to assess the national context for development education in Ireland and make recommendations for the successor Development Education Strategy.  The Peer Review team included experts from Austria, Finland, Luxembourg and Belgium.  The findings of the review were published in the ‘GENE National Report on Global Education in Ireland’ which was launched in Iveagh House in November 2015.  

The GENE National Report
acknowledged the rich history and tradition of development education in Ireland and the long-standing commitment of Irish Aid, civil society organisations and other stakeholders working in this area.  The report commended the diversity of strategy and approach in development education across the formal, non-formal and informal education sectors and recommended that the successor Development Education Strategy provide renewed vision and strengthen the aims of integrating development education in education at all levels.  

To inform the development of the new Development Education Strategy, Irish Aid hosted a Development Education National Consultation Day in April 2015, attended by over 100 representatives from the formal education, youth, adult and community, civil society and development sectors.  The National Consultation Day facilitated roundtable discussions which gave stakeholders the opportunity to discuss, debate and identify the challenges, opportunities and key priorities for the progression of development education in Ireland.

Irish Aid worked closely with IDEA, the Irish Development Education Association, during the process of developing the new strategy.  IDEA coordinated the establishment of three Task Groups, representing the formal education, adult and community education and youth sectors.  Irish Aid held a number of meetings with the Task Groups to prepare for the GENE Peer Review, to discuss the GENE National Report and to share drafts of our strategy.  These Task Groups presented at the Irish Aid Development Education National Consultation Day, met with the GENE Peer Review team and contributed written submissions to both the GENE Peer Review and the Irish Aid Development Education Strategy.  

The new Development Education Strategy seeks to contribute to the realisation of Irish Aid’s vision for a sustainable and just world, by providing an opportunity for people in Ireland to reflect on their roles and responsibilities as global citizens and by encouraging people to take action for a fairer and more sustainable future for all.  We are confident that our ambitious strategy will increase the accessibility, quality and effectiveness of Development Education for people throughout Ireland.  Our work takes inspiration from the words of Nelson Mandela: ‘’Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’’.