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16 things we’re excited about for 2016

School girls sing a song to welcome visitors to the 'reading corner' set up by the village preparedness and response team in Sembalun Lawang, Indonesia.

By Kate Phillips, Schools Program Coordinator.

Well, Term 1 is here and educators and students across the country are entering a new year full of learning, challenges, excitement and expectations.

Here at Oxfam Australia’s Schools Program, there are heaps of things we’re excited about for 2016. It was hard to narrow them down, but here – in no particular order – are our 16 for ’16!

1. Brand spanking new education resources

The year has kicked off with three new education resource offerings on our website: Live Strong: Close the Gap; People, Power, Politics; and Six Goals to Change the World.

More are in the pipeline, including a Fairtade and labour rights resource; building resilience; successful campaigning; and many more. Keep your eyes peeled! Bookmark the education resources page and sign up to our e-newsletter to keep up-to-date with all our news.

2. National Close the Gap

This year is the 10th anniversary of the Close the Gap campaign. Last year, nearly 100,000 teachers and students from across Australia stood for health equality by hosting 350 events on National Close the Gap Day. Help us keep the momentum going to #ClosetheGap by 2030 – register your event today to receive your free school’s pack!

3. Attendance at teacher conferences

Yes, you heard that right! I can’t wait to get out to teacher conferences across the country this year. I’ll be presenting, running workshops, holding stalls and just generally looking forward to meeting and greeting participants and speakers alike.

I had a fantastic time at the recent UTAS Global Education Summer School conference (13–15 January), presenting on the Oxfam School’s Program, our new education resource Live Strong: Close the Gap, and being a special commentator in various group discussions and debates. Coming up are the Business Educators, English, Geography, HASS, Positive Schools and Social Education conferences. I look forward to seeing you there!

4. Seeing the student entries for this year’s Instagram Close the Gap photo challenge #ctgstudents

Last year we received 150 amazing entries and thousands of views. Here’s to more amazing awareness-raising and creativity in 2016! Start getting inspired for the Close the Gap Instagram challenge now.

5. A new secretary general of the United Nations

Up until now, the five security members of the United Nations have chosen the UN’s secretary general in secret. All eight have been men. This year, change is in the air, with mounting calls for a more transparent and equitable voting system.

In terms of potential candidates, there are two from our region who are thought to be in the running: Helen Clark, the former New Zealand prime minister who now runs the UN Development Programme, and Kevin Rudd, the former Australian prime minister.

6. Matilda the Musical coming to Melbourne

OK, this is perhaps personal excitement only – but the lyrics in many of the songs have a great social justice bent in them, so there’s global learning along with all the fun! For those not in Melbourne, check out the national tour!

7. The National Election

This year we’re going to be getting passionate about politics. Why? Because Australia is currently way behind other nations: from support for humanitarian aid in the Syrian crisis, to our commitment to combating climate change; from making tax fair to upholding indigenous rights, there’s so much more we could be doing as a nation to tackle inequality.

Students are future voters. And their voice matters now too. Why not commit to learning more about our political system this year?

8. Oxfam Shops looking into selling ethical clothing

How do you know what you’re wearing was made ethically? It can be a tough gig finding fair and ethical clothing. Excitingly, the Oxfam shops are looking into sourcing and selling ethical clothing! Take this survey to tell us what you think and what you’d like to see.

More ways to get involved: Celebrate Fairtrade fortnight in your school in Term 2, and check out Behind the Brands, which assesses the performance of the world’s 10 biggest food and beverage companies on issues such as women, workers, farmers, land, water and climate.

9. Getting involved in the AYCC summit, VicSRC congress and High Resolves summit

Last year we collaborated with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Victorian Student Representative Council and High Resolves to run some student workshops, group activities and panel discussions at their key national events. There’s more in the running for 2016, so keep an eye out for these awesome summits.

10. Engaging with educators across the country

Oxfam Australia’s first ‘goal to change the world’ is the right to be heard — and we want to hear your voice! Knowing what you need from the Oxfam School’s Program, what challenges you face in the classroom, what inspires and motivates you to teach for active global citizenship … it all helps us to create relevant and engaging education resources and run the best program possible.

Please get in touch if you would like to join our teacher reference group. To stay up-to-date, you can bookmark the Oxfam Schools blog, follow me on Twitter (@KateTPhillips), or sign up to receive our e-newsletter.

11. Working towards our Six Goals to Change the World

Our new strategic plan is all about the power of people against poverty. That includes you. We can all work together to create a just world, without poverty – and educating for change is a huge part of that work. You’re part of an amazing and inspiring global movement. Keep your eyes on the big prize: every lightbulb moment in your classroom brightens the future for all.

12. … not to be confused with the new Global Goals (SDGs)

The new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also called the Global Goals) were launched in January this year. They take over from the Millennium Development Goals, which ended in 2015.

We’ve seen huge strides forward in reducing global poverty; this is the final push to ending poverty in our lifetime. Learn more about the Global Goals with our resource kit.

13. Building resilience

Resilience is big on the school agenda. I hear it at teacher conferences, and when talking with individual teachers. I face the challenge of building resilience in my own life, and my friends are increasingly talking about it. Oxfam Australia’s partner programs focus on building resilience with communities living in poverty, too.

Watch this space for a new resource exploring what we can learn about resilience from communities around the world. In the meantime, use our mindfulness colouring activity with your students.

14. Trialling our ‘how to campaign’ resource

Another exciting resource in the pipeline is our campaigning action guide, alongside a Visual Arts, HASS and English resource looking at campaigns and persuasive writing. We’ll be trialling it in a handful of schools across the country before its release later this year. Let us know if you’d like to get involved!

15. Hosting a Hunger Banquet

Over 100 schools and 5,000 students held and participated in a Hunger Banquet last year — exploring issues of global hunger, food security and inequality — while taking action to help create a world where everyone has enough to eat. Make a Hunger Banquet your Term 4 project.

16. Hearing your stories!

Students at Heathfield Primary School, South Australia, completed these fantastic global goals postcards. We love hearing about what you’re doing with our program materials, how you’re doing it, why you’re doing it, and what impact it’s having. You can be featured on this blog, I can give you a shout out on Twitter… There’s so many ways to celebrate what’s going on around the country. Please do get in touch with any great stories.

So this is it: here’s to 2016 – let’s make it a great year for Active Global Citizenship! Get more information on Oxfam’s Schools Program and how your school can get involved or contact Oxfam Schools program directly.