ASPnet Themes

ASPnet schools and teachers are encouraged to conduct interdisciplinary pilot projects on one or several of the four main study themes, covering a wide range of interrelated sub-topics.

·         ASPnet and UN priorities

ASPnet schools often chose activities linked to the priorities of UNESCO and the United Nations, such as peace, poverty, hunger, HIV and AIDS, pollution, climate change, illiteracy, cultural identity, gender, child labour, etc. 

The celebration of International Days and Years also provides students with opportunities to discuss the issues concerned in their local as well as global contexts.


This study theme helps students to:

  • Understand local, national and international dimensions of problems in an increasingly complex and globalised world
  • Familiarize students with the United Nations system
  • Develop awareness of the importance of international cooperation when searching for possible solutions


·         Peace and human rights

The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO declares that ‘since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed’.

Since its beginning, UNESCO Associated Schools have been carrying out activities for the promotion of peace and human rights, tolerance and democratic citizenship, especially through education.

Human rights education promotes a rights-based approach to education. which includes both “human rights through education” and “human rights in education”.

This implies:

  • learning about human rights and
  • the practice of human rights by using a combination of cognitive, creative and innovative learning approaches


Activities relating to peace and human rights aim at:

  • Eliminating all manifestations of racism, xenophobia, exclusion, discrimination and intolerance
  • Strengthening education for democracy, civic responsibility, critical thinking, tolerance and non-violent conflict resolution
  • Raising awareness of human rights in theory and practice, sensitizing students to their own rights and responsibilities, including the rights of others


·         Education for Sustainable Development

Climate change, the global food crisis and the ongoing financial and economic crisis are examples of sustainability issues our societies have to cope with in a globalized world.

In conducting pilot projects to better prepare children and young people to tackle effectively the challenges of an increasingly interdependent world, ASPnet schools have an important share in the United Nations Decade for Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). In fact, ASPnet plays a vital role in pilot-testing, developing and implementing ESD methods that are eventually documented and provide examples of good practices for other schools.

Education is the foundation for sustainable development. It is a key instrument for bringing about changes in values and attitudes, skills, behaviours and lifestyles consistent with sustainable development within and among countries.

The concept of sustainable development includes the key areas of society, environment and economy, with culture as an underlying dimension. The values, diversity, knowledge, languages and worldviews associated with culture influence the way Education for sustainable development is implemented in specific national contexts.


Education for sustainable development is a tool for addressing interlinked objectives such as:

Society: to increase understanding of social institutions and their role in change and development, to promote social justice, gender equality, human rights, democratic and participatory systems, and health care (including HIV/AIDS)

Environment: to increase awareness of the resources and fragility of the physical environment, the affects of human activity on the environment, climate change, environmental protection (including water education), and biodiversity

Economy: to create sensitivity to the potential and the limits of economic growth, its impact on society and the environment, responsible and sustainable consumption, and rural development

In addition to reflection in the classroom, schools often conduct community-oriented projects. This does not only serve to improve immediate local needs, but to equip students with the necessary skills to transform oneself and society.

Therefore ESD should not be seen narrowly as another subject or concern to be added onto the formal education system. It is as much about the content as about the method. ESD is a broad teaching and learning process that encourages an interdisciplinary and holistic approach and promotes critical and creative thinking in the educational process.


·         Intercultural learning

As societies become increasingly multicultural and multiethnic, so does the importance of promoting such diversity. In a sincere effort to establish a true and meaningful intercultural dialogue, many ASPnet teachers and students are rising to the challenge of entering into contact with each other, transcending borders, continents, cultures and languages. They encourage research on the students’ own origins and promote exchange with students of other countries. Often, ASPnet activities also focus on local situations, advocating “unity in diversity”.


  • Exchanges, twinning partnerships and common intercultural projects between schools and countries are at the core of the UNESCO Associated Schools network. They are tools to:
  • Deepen the knowledge, understanding of and respect for other cultures;
  • Enable young people to learn more about their own culture, to deepen their cultural roots and to reaffirm their identity;
  • Raise awareness of the need for international cooperation to tackle today’s global problems.



Additional information