SEKEM Austria Initiated Event on Sustainable Education in Egypt

“To live in the idea is to treat the impossible as though it were possible.” With this quote from Goethe, that suits to SEKEM and Sustainable Development in general, Dr. Hermann Becke, Chairman of the SEKEM Friends Association Austria, welcomed the audience of the event “Education – Sustainable Development” that took place at the Karl-Franzens-University Graz, Austria. Read Dr. Hermann Becke’s report about the successful meeting here on SEKEM News!

In November 2014, the “Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development” (GAP) was initiated as a follow-up program of the UN Decade “Education for Sustainable Development” in Nagoya (Japan). Next to many delegates and stakeholders from all over the world, the RCE Graz-Styria (Regional Centre of Expertise Graz-Styria) and SEKEM attended the international event.

Now, one year later, the RCE Graz-Styria and SEKEM Austria decided to emphasize again on the program. An event has been organized with representatives from various institutions: the Austrian UNESCO-commission, three ministries (science, environment and education) and representatives of six local and international sustainability projects. A huge number of visitors joined the event – the information booths were crowded by a curious audience.

“There is no Sustainable Development without arts!” Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish

SEKEM Austria presented several of its projects. For instance activities in regards to Education for Sustainable Development in Egyptian schools. Bianca Fliss, former SEKEM co-worker, illustrated the content vividly as she was directly involved to the activities. As coordinator for international affairs, she was responsible for the project partners of the TEMPUS project EduCamp (Education for Sustainable Development Beyond the Campus), in which also the RCE Graz and SEKEM Austria were involved. In this context, Centers of Excellence for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) were established at several Egyptian universities, including the Heliopolis University. Furthermore, three kits for ESD-activities were designed and published. Bianca Fliss was responsible for the chapters that deal with agricultural topics.

Bianca Fliss in Graz
Bianca Fliss presenting SEKEMs commitment to education for Sustainable Development.

Since 2015, Bianca Fliss is working as a coordinator at the NILE project (New and Improved Learning Environment) of GOPA Worldwide Consultants that cooperates closely with the Egyptian Ministry of Education. Hence, she was able to give a comprehensive overview regarding the biggest challenges that public schools in Egypt are facing. Classes with 70 to 90 children, poor school equipment and not well educated teachers are among the most serious problems. But Bianca Fliss also underlined that the projects EduCamp and EduCamp II already showed positive impact – SEKEM therein played an important role.

Fostering refugees’ development through art

Besides, a project (cooperation between SEKEM Austria and the Waldorfschool Graz) was presented that supports unaccompanied young Afghan refugees through artistic activities. Under slogans like “all teaching is art”, “art helps to deal with suffering”, “art helps to individualize”, “art encourages about responsibility and action” or “the art of education makes learning sustainable” pictures of the activities were shown.

Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish once stated: “There is no sustainable development without art!” Along these lines it was important for us to not only talk about arts at this day, but to experience it by ourselves. An active art contribution was given by the intercultural children choir Superar (21 children with 10 different mother tongues!), conducted by Rahela Duric. If you experience this strong sign of life that is living among the youth, then we cannot be afraid of the future anymore. Here the Goethe quote that was mentioned in the beginning fits again – it became the slogan for the whole event on Education for Sustainability.

Dr. Hermann Becke


SEKEM Friends Austria
SEKEM and Heliopolis University at UNESCO World Conference on ESD