Welcome to the Development Education dot IE Blog

The world is watching as Ireland votes on marriage equality

Photo:  Poster Campaign For The Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015- REF-103882 (May4, 2015) by  William Murphy/CC-BA-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Poster Campaign For The Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015- REF-103882 (May4, 2015) by William Murphy/CC-BA-SA 2.0 (via Flickr)

Ireland is the first country in the world to put the question of same sex marriage to a public vote. Taking place tomorrow, the referendum presents voters with a choice whether the Constitution should be changed so as to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The proposed bill would insert a new subsection 4 to Article 41 of the Irish Constitution:

“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.” More…

10 quotes that changed the way we look at the world

The Huffington Post recently included what it considers the Top 10 quotes Badge-Top-Tens-Small from various ‘leaders’ across the globe that “in some way changed how humanity looks at the world.”

This list includes quotes that commemorate historical moments/actions that impacted on the global landscape, through political reforms, scientific revolutionary discoveries, human rights, empowering the rights of women and girls, etc. Below is their list. There are many instances where “the power of worlds has been abundantly clear,” and where the subsequent action has not.

If you were to suggest a Top 10 list of famous quotes from (in)famous actions that impacted on the world, what would that list look like?

Malala Yousafzai (Nobel Laureate, activist for girls and women’s rights to education)

Photo: Malala Yousafzai is a campaigner who in 2012 was shot for her activist work. As part of WOW 2014, she talks about the systemic nature of gender inequality and bringing about change (March 8, 2014) by Southbank Centre/CC-BY-2.0 (via Wikimedia).

Photo: Malala Yousafzai is a campaigner who in 2012 was shot for her activist work. As part of WOW 2014, she talks about the systemic nature of gender inequality and bringing about change (March 8, 2014) by Southbank Centre/CC-BY-2.0 (via Wikimedia).

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

After being shot in the head on her way to school by Taliban forces, Malala Yousafzai has become one of the world’s most prominent voices for the right to education, in particular for girls. In a speech at the United Nations on July 12, 2013, she gave a stirring call for global education, as well as the fight against terrorism. At the time she was just 16 years old, and in years since has continued on her campaign and received a Nobel Peace Prize for her work.

Learn more about Malala and her campaign. See also the learning site teachingkidsnews on Malala with further links and curriculum connections.

Anne Frank (young diarist and writer. One of the most discussed victims of the Jewish Holocaust, killed in 1943 at the age of 16 years)

Photo: Anne Frank (March 13, 2015) by RV1864/CC BY-ND-2.0 (via Flickr).

Photo: Anne Frank (March 13, 2015) by RV1864/CC BY-ND-2.0 (via Flickr).

“I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

Written in her diary on July 15, 1944, Anne Frank’s words reflect her inspiring outlook during one of the worst events in human history. Upon its publishing in 1947, the diary would become an incredibly important and celebrated account of the Holocaust. Frank’s words offer a glimpse into the horrors of the Nazis, and stand as a reminder to never forget the tragedy that befell her and an estimated 6 million other Jews during World War II.

Learn more about Anne Frank.

Nelson Mandela (President of the Republic of South Africa 1994-1999, ANC leader and freedom fighter)

Photo: This is the official photo of Mandela casting his vote in the 1994 elections. It was the first time Mandela had voted in his life. It was taken at Ohlange School, Inanda, Durban (April 1, 1994) by Paul Weinberg/CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia).

Photo: This is the official photo of Mandela casting his vote in the 1994 elections. It was the first time Mandela had voted in his life. It was taken at Ohlange School, Inanda, Durban (April 1, 1994) by Paul Weinberg/CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia).

 ”I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

The closing lines of Nelson Mandela’s defense statement at his 1964 trial are a testament to his dedication, as well as his rhetorical skill. An unrelenting activist against the brutally racist South African apartheid regime, Mandela was convicted on four counts of sabotage in the trial and sent to jail on a life sentence. He was released after 27 years in prison, most of them spent at Robben Island, and in 1994 went on to win South Africa’s first free elections.

Learn more about Mandela and a series of quotes he made on development and international justice.

See the BBC timeline learn more about Mandela. See also 10 life lessons from Mandela. For young people see enchantedlearning and the comprehensive site theschoolrun. More…

Review of Irish Aid DE Programme: 6 arguments for strengthening development education in Ireland


The 6 arguments were prepared by developmenteducation.ie as a discussion document toward the review of the Irish Aid Development Education Programme being conducted by GENE (Global Education Network Europe) taking place in 2015 and was circulated at the consultation event at Farmleigh House (Dublin) on 29th April. The review process is contributing towards Irish Aid’s new development education strategy set for publication in 2016.


1. Development education needs to firmly remain an integral part of the Development Cooperation movement

The primary concern of development education (DE) remains human development in all its dimensions and is linked directly to the broad ‘aid’ and related agendas; it has a specific and distinct pedigree and it is one that the public relate to readily even when in disagreement.  If we lose this focus in favour of something more amorphous and vague, then we weaken our trade and its agenda and we betray our mandate.

DE needs to firmly remain a part of the development cooperation agenda (from which it obtains its relevance and focus) and that of Irish Aid (and Foreign Affairs) or it is in danger of losing its relevance and visibility.  If the intrinsic link with development cooperation is weakened or lost (or if responsibility is moved to other (domestically focused Departments), it will be only a matter of time before the specific budget line is also lost.  Without development education, development cooperation will also be weakened.

2. DE is a public entitlement and a public agenda and as such needs to be visible

Ensuring development issues remain a part of public debate and public judgement is fundamental in discussing Ireland’s role in the world.  Irish people have a right to be engaged in this conversation (they also have a corresponding duty) and therefore the agenda, issues and stories need to be ‘visible’ publicly – they should not be simply hidden in policy documents, syllabi, assessments etc.

DC and DE require a robust programme of public education and debate – it is a key part of the agenda on transparency, accountability and public ownership.

3. The current ‘map’ of DE in Ireland needs re-balancing

While DE in the formal sector has been the priority focus for Irish Aid in recent years, it cannot and should not be the sole focus.  There has been a tendency to neglect and significantly under-resource DE in other sectors e.g. youthwork, adult and community education and public education.  While continuing to support and extend formal sector DE work, there is a need to re-balance DE to similarly address other sectors of public education.  DE cannot be allowed to become primarily a schools or formal education agenda.

4. DE needs to build on past experiences and successes in developing and delivering strategies and priorities

With each review process, there is a tendency to ‘forget or ignore’ history (especially that of previous Irish Aid strategies and their successes/failures and impact) and that the story of DE in Ireland has many experiences and successes upon which to build for the future.  Some of the successes are obvious – for example, DE in CSPE, the adoption of the DE agenda by many structures and institutions (NYCI, colleges, networks of schools, the trade union movement, Aontas etc.); others less obvious (for example, DE through popular campaigning – anti-Apartheid, Fairtrade, Baby-milk Campaign etc.). There are many lessons to share and they need to be taken into account in the review.

The history of DE in Ireland does not begin with this review – it needs to build upon the past.

5. DE needs to be appropriately resourced if it is to continue to succeed

There are many viewpoints on what the phrase ‘appropriate’ resourcing might mean – a percentage of current ODA; a specific figure per head of population, sufficient to resource a demographically audited network of key providers regionally etc.  What is clear at present is that the ‘visible’ delivery of DE in Ireland is in danger of disappearing given the inadequate levels of funding available (and not just from Irish Aid).

The review should make it clear that any realistic Irish Aid DE strategic plan for the years ahead must facilitate strategic planning by those tasked with delivery.  Such planning must inevitably include financial planning in order to ensure quality, impact and, crucially the retention of key experienced personnel.  Currently there are many difficulties for DE groups around Irish Aid DE funding (scale, multi-year, contracts, grant calls etc.) which undermine the work – these need to be addressed.

6. Demographics matter - DE planning needs to reflect changing population trends and concentrations

Since the publication of the last Irish Aid strategy the national census was completed and published – another censes is scheduled for 2016. Many assumptions are made about the geographical spread of DE (such the myth of Dublin saturation) without reference to data. DE strategic planning should be actively analysing and responding to demographic changes and trends in terms of provision, adaptation and changing engagement opportunities. Investing in the geography of potential DE is crucial if we are to maximise impact.

There are many issues that a national DE strategy should be analysing, including the rise in population; percentage changes in the population of urban electoral divisions (such as north-west and west Dublin); the rise of new towns; socio-economic household composition; the rise in pre-school and primary age; age profiling of a younger and older population etc.

The review should make it clear that strategic planning for the years ahead should be informed by census-based strategic planning as part of a broader quality, impact and outcomes agenda.


This blog is part of our series Exploring Development Education reflecting on the history, ideas and practices of development education in Ireland.

The quality of teaching must be central to global education provision targets

“Progress towards the post-2015 education SDG will be stymied if the quality and effectiveness of teaching are not front and centre in the main list of targets.”

Where do the proposed education targets fall short? Policy paper no.16 (1 Feb, 2015) Education for All Global Monitoring Report by UNESCO.

As an educator for over 40 years, this point is obvious to me. As someone who has volunteered with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and most recently in Mozambique to improve the quality of teaching and learning, the global education movement needs to grasp this idea.

When I started off with VSO in Sierra Leone in 1970, I was sent to a remote outpost to teach English. I didn’t have a teaching qualification nor did I have any teaching experience.

Thankfully, the world has moved on, and so has VSO. More…

Walking for Water in Ireland…but not for the reasons you might think!

Photo: Loreto the Green by Aidlink (March 26th, 2015).

Photo: students demonstrating the global water and sanitation crisis from Loreto the Green (March 26th, 2015) by Aidlink.

On a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon this March tens of thousands of protesters descended on the streets of Dublin all in the name of ‘water’. The demonstration, organised by the Right2Water[1] campaign, was part of a wider movement in opposition to the recent introduction of water charges here in Ireland.

Dominating the headlines for many months now, the introduction of domestic water charges has been more controversial than any other political decision since the collapse of the Irish economy in 2008.

Never before in my lifetime has a subject incited such mass, persistent political action on the streets of our towns and cities.

For the first time ever, many of us were forced to consider the value and cost of water; propelling a deeper reflection on what the ‘human right to water’ means and what responsibility we owe, if any, to those who provide us with a safe, clean, domestic supply of water.

But whist thousands rallied on Dublin’s O’Connell Street to chants of “can’t pay, won’t pay”, a number of very different water demonstrations were taking place in communities across Ireland. More…

Doing DE – using the case study of modern slavery to raise and explore issues

Note: The materials and resources listed here are primarily suited to ages 14+ and can be used in a wide variety of learning and teaching contexts.

 ‘It’s an ancient abuse, but it persists throughout the world today. Slavery remains one of the greatest human rights challenges of history. Today it’s largely hidden from sight. People now are trapped by different forces – less visible, but just as powerful.’

NGO Free the Slaves

Watching Sebastião Salgado on TED recently on the silent drama of photography I was reminded of the importance and value of doing development education through issue-based case studies. More…

Teachers of the world! Join in to create the world’s largest lesson

  • In September 2015 the world will have a plan. twll-white-large
  • What’s yours?
  • Help to create The World’s Largest Lesson

This September the United Nations will announce the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - a set of goals for the world that aim to make our planet fair, healthy and sustainable by 2030.

Two of the key issues at the heart of the SDGs is to eradicate extreme poverty and to get to reduce the threat of climate change.

After the goals are announced, The World’s Largest Lesson will take place, with teachers in schools all around the world educating their students about the SDGs. This will help students understand the significance of these new global goals to their futures, and the crucial role they could play in realising them.

The World’s Largest Lesson will be delivered with support from Unicef, TES and Education International. It forms a key part of Project Everyone, a drive led by writer and film director Richard Curtis which aims to ensure everyone knows about the SDGs.

developmenteducation.ie is working to create a bank of teaching and learning resources (with debates and development data) that cover all the SDG themes and that can help teachers research and deliver The World’s Largest Lesson.

A competition has been launched inviting teachers from across the world to submit creative and exciting lesson plans about the SDGs. Lesson plans can be from any subject area such as science, English, business studies, mathematics, art, languages, CSPE, geography etc.

Once uploaded these can be viewed, shared and will be rated by teachers and the winning ideas will be developed and published as a set of resources for teaching The World’s Largest Lesson.

Competition closing date: 17th April 2015

Ratings completion date: 1 May 2015

For further details, and to submit your lesson ideas, visit:

For some background and debates see this interactive produced by The Guardian with all you need to know about the Sustainable Development Goals: changing the world in 17 steps.

Check developmenteducation.ie for SDG related blogs and resources for lesson plan ideas too.


What to do?

Create an idea or plan for a 30 – 60 minute lesson or classroom activity about either:

i) the principle of the goals and their overall purpose
ii) a theme from the goals that means most to the children you teach

To be taught to children in one of:

i) Upper Elementary/Primary phase (aged 8-11 years)
ii) Lower Secondary phase (aged 11-14 years)

You can create your lesson plan in any one of the 6 UN languages:

Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

You can create and upload your lesson using a range of different file types:

You don’t need the latest technology, you could write your idea on a piece of paper, photograph it and upload it.

View a list of file types here.

There will be 1 regional winner from each of the following regions:

Western Europe
Eastern Europe
Sub-Saharan Africa
South Asia
Southeast Asia
Middle East & North Africa
Latin America and The Caribbean
Northern America
Central and East Asia

1,826 = 7,500,000,000,000

Source: The World’s Billionaire Almanac (March 2015) by Forbes Media.

Source: The World’s Billionaire Almanac (March 2015) by Forbes Media.

As you log out of ‘Hotmail’ you are redirected to MSN news homepage. I don’t often take much notice of the contents of the page, however, on this occasion the new Forbes listing of the richest people on the planet caught my eye.

Turns out, it was very interesting! More…

Climate Change Challenge Weekend: 16-18 year olds answer the call

Climate change and climate justice are often seen as abstract concepts that are hard to get to grips with, especially for young people.

The key to engaging this age group with these ideas is to approach them through active and experiential learning, which is why the Development Education team at Trócaire decided to run a Climate Change Challenge Weekend last November on the campus of Maynooth University.



Notes from Kampala: “No women!”

Photo: Negative (April 24, 2007) by Gabe Racz. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license via Flickr.

Photo: Negative (April 24, 2007) by Gabe Racz. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license via Flickr.

On the eve of International Women’s Day, I boarded a plane at Entebbe airport bound for my first stop in Doha. As I approached row 12, I noticed that someone else was sitting in my assigned seat. I politely asked the man whether he was in the right seat or had the airline ‘double booked’ us.

I was ignored. I politely asked again.

The man responded to me by saying, “no women.” More…