In September 2015, a new global development agenda was adopted by leaders from around the world.  The Global Goals or Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals build on the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another.

When it comes to education, it is interesting to note that whilst the Millennium Development Goals focus on ensuring access to education, the Sustainable Development Goals have a very clear focus on quality of education.  In fact, SDG 4, which pertains directly to education is stated as “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.”

There has been a realization throughout the education sector that simply being in school is not the same as learning.  Shocking data has come to the fore that demonstrates that in many cases, children are, in fact, not learning despite being in school.  “According to UNESCO, 4 in 10 Grade 4 children across the globe fail to meet minimum learning standards. In line with this, the World Bank recently declared a global learning crisis, reporting that 617 million school-aged children are not reaching minimum proficiency levels in reading and math.” (Gates Foundation)  Evidence that children are in school, but not learning, emboldens the call for quality education!
Another key message of the Sustainable Development Agenda is ‘Leave no one behind’, a rallying call to ensure that all children, globally, are included in the provision of quality education. Critically, this must include children living in urban informal settlements, children in neglected rural communities, children in informal schools, children in war torn countries, and children with special needs – all children marginalized by poverty and injustice, and all children currently impacted by Dignitas’ programming.
The work of Dignitas directly addresses the need for quality education, and the call to ‘Leave no one behind’.  Dignitas exists to equip School Leaders and educators for the delivery of quality education to children in typically underserved, marginalized communities.

Our Vision: We imagine a world where schools are a vibrant place for all children to develop the skills and strength of character to thrive and succeed.

Dignitas’ innovative model of training and coaching is designed to ensure that children master a broad range of skills by the end of primary school, by way of quality education.  Of course, when we talk of skills, we are no longer simply referring to literacy and numeracy, but to what is often referred to as ‘21st century skills’ – the ability to innovate, adaptability, critical thinking skills, and creative problem solving.  Quality education must deliver these skills – these are the skills our children need to thrive in the 21st century.

The new Kenyan curriculum lists seven competencies that all children should achieve.  Well aligned with this need for ‘21st century skills’ acquisition, it highlights communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and imagination, digital literacy, learning to learn and self-efficacy.

Dignitas’ curriculum for School Leaders and educators equips and empowers them to nurture these competencies in their students.  Our program is currently being reviewed to ensure that every student can feel safe and valued in school, can develop critical thinking skills, be an active participant in their learning, and benefit from increased confidence and self-efficacy.

Dignitas’ program is designed in a way that will ensure the delivery of quality education to children in marginalized communities, and responds directly to SDG 4, the call to ‘Leave no one behind, and the goals of the Kenyan government’s new curriculum framework.

Contributor: Deborah Kimathi – Executive Director