Teaching is definitely a stressful job. A recent article in the UK Times Educational Supplement (Tes), claimed that teachers in the UK are twice more likely to suffer work-related stress than average, while ABC News reported teaching as the fourth most stressful job in the US.

One challenge teachers face was articulated by the United Nations in the 2015 sustainable development agenda, namely the united effort needed from all stakeholders for poverty to be eradicated, protecting our planet and ensure prosperity for everyone. Lifelong learning and education are key components to the fulfilment of this grand vision and is encapsulated in the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

Specifically, SDG 4.7 aims to ensure that by 2030 all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

The stress reality and the impetus to make education relevant to today’s challenges as outlined in SDG 4.7 is an occasion for teachers to support each other even more. One such method is that practised by the Finnish network for teacher induction ‘Osaava Verme’ – namely the peer-group mentoring model (PGM) to support new teachers. This Finnish model of PGM gives new teachers the opportunity to share and reflect on their experiences as well as discuss their day-to-day problems and challenges faced at work.

Peer-mentoring is a recent theme in local education, and is even less developed in specific sectors such as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This is not just a local reality but spreads across most European countries. To address this gap, the Centre for Environmental Education and Research (CEER) at the University of Malta has kick-started the PEERMENT project, and the first transnational project meeting was held in Malta last January. The project partners are CEER, University of Malta (lead agent - Malta); Solski Center Nova Gorica (Slovenia); Comité National de Solidarité Laïque (France); Consorzio degli Istituti Professionali (Italy); Udruga za rad s mladima Breza (Croatia); and Progetto Mondo Mlal Onlus (Italy).

The project aims is to lay out, test, improve and disseminate a new model of mentoring and peer-mentoring for ESD. This will be reached through a process of action-research, which will directly involve about 20 education specialists as teachers’ trainers and senior mentors, and about 50 teachers as mentees through local testing groups. Being an Erasmusplus project, PEERMENT will be producing various outputs, including mentoring and peer-mentoring systems for ESD.

For further information about PEERMENT one can write to Dr Vincent Caruana on peerment@um.edu.mt.

Did you know?

• Even though 91 per cent of children in developing countries are enrolled in primary education, 57 million still remain out of school.

• While almost a billion people go undernourished and another billion hungry, 1.3 billion tonnes of food is being wasted every year.

• Coprophagia is the process whereby certain animals like rabbits eat their own faeces, as it gives them access to nutrients they could not digest the first time around.

• Unlike other fish, whales swim by moving their tails up and down.

• In order for the blue male crab to send signals to females, it performs wild leg-dance moves.

To read more scientific trivia, visit www.um.edu.mt/think.

Sound bites

• One of the major environmental challenges of our time is to find a solution to the causes and impacts of marine litter. One of the key elements to deal with marine litter is to encourage people not to throw things away irresponsibly. A study published in Marine Policy was a qualitative assessment of European students’ and educators’ attitudes to marine litter where data was collected before and after their participation in an online education pro­ject. The project was designed to raise awareness about marine litter and to inspire action in the younger generation. This research highlighted that educators are able to play a lead role in educating young people about plastic pollution.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180221090631.htm

• The value of water for humanity has long been recognised. Research led by Oxford University stresses the importance of mea­suring, monitoring and managing water on a global and local scale and proposes a four-part network for sustainable development that could lead to better policy and practice. Since water underpins development, it needs to be managed sustainably together with updated and informed policies. The published paper responds to a global call to action that highlights the scarcity of water and its negative impacts. The objective of this research was to demonstrate the value in rethinking how to use technology, science and other incentives to overcome governance barriers.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171124084323.htm

For more soundbites listen to Radio Mocha on Radju Malta every Saturday at 11.05am. https://www.facebook.com/RadioMochaMalta.

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