Educating young people to become global citizens is crucial, and it matters for building a sustainable future.  


An educator should not only transform information into knowledge and critical awareness, but prepare students to become global citizens,” said Aliger dos Santos Pereira, a Brazilian high-school teacher participating in the 2020-21 AFS Effect+ for the Classroom program and mentor of one the three students’ social impact projects awarded the Sir Cyril Taylor Young Leaders Award. 

Aliger was joined by two other educators who also shared a few words on behalf of their students’ projects during the virtual event where the winners of the 2021 Sir Cyril Taylor Young Leaders Awards were announced. 

Moderated by AFS’s Effect+ Project Coordinator Andrés Lanza, the virtual event “Inspiring young global citizens to tackle the SDGs” marked the closing of the 2021-21 Effect+ program gathering educators and students from all three countries participating in the program (Brazil, Colombia and New Zealand) to celebrate the award-winning social impact projects and to join an engaging panel discussion with young changemakers Luisa Romero Muñoz and Shah Chowdhury

Why We Need Young Active Global Citizens to Tackle the SDGs 

Research shows that teachers are crucial to foster global competence and help learners become Active Global Citizens. Yet many teachers say they are under-equipped to support their students in this area.That’s exactly the reason why AFS developed the Effect+ for the Classroom program, which was made possible thanks to the generous support of The Sir Cyril Taylor Charitable Foundation. 

“As a global education organization with 100+ years of experience, AFS envisions a world in which people from all backgrounds embrace differences and believe that we are stronger because of them, a world where individuals and institutions are empowered to actively work towards advancing global understanding, and take action for collective well-being and sustainable development. One of the most important things to make this possible and to make this vision come true is to support schools and educators so that they have the skills and tools to support students in their classrooms to become active global citizens,” said Daniel Obst, AFS Intercultural Programs President & CEO. 

William L. Gertz, trustee of The Cyril Taylor Charitable Foundation and Chairman of the American Institute For Foreign Study, added that it’s quite incredible to see the commitment of the teachers and their students to social impact and intercultural learning: “The foundation is proud to invest in worthy projects very much like this one. It’s a young foundation but we expect to continue for many many years helping people who have the same dream Cyril Taylor had many years ago, a dream of bringing the world together, a dream of peace and a dream of fairness to everyone.” 

During the panel discussion, two young changemakers, winners of the 2019 and 2020 AFS Prize for Young Global Citizens shared their experiences and perspectives on how young leaders can tackle the SDGs. 

In the words of Luisa Romero Muñoz, Co-Founder at Get Up and Go Colombia, “a global citizen is a person who is looking to tackle local challenges with a global perspective.” Shah Chowdhury, Co-Founder and President at Footsteps Foundation from Bangladesh, shared a similar definition and also highlighted the holistic and interconnected nature of global challenges such as the ones addressed in the SDGs: “In a world more connected than ever, having an impact through the work you do has become even more important. Because my problem or your problem is everyone else’s problem that we have to solve together.” 

Both Luisa and Shah also highlighted the crucial role schools play in helping learners develop 21st century global skills, such as empathy and active listening, and the key role it plays in their work to connect with the local communities and their needs. 

Recognizing a New Generation of Young Leaders 

The three winning projects of the 2021 Sir Cyril Taylor Young Leaders awards showcase how a new generation of young people can generate social impact project ideas to tackle different SDGs:   

  • Enlighten Manrique – Medellín, Colombia
    Developed by students Luciana García Ochoa, Andrea Monsalve Henao, Juanita Gaona Quintero, Raquel Restrepo Herrera with guidance from teacher Elkin José Villa Velásquez from Colegio San José de Las Vegas
    Enlighten Manrique proposes a Fundraising and Entrepreneurship campaign for the generation of resources to provide affordable energy and access to the internet in Manrique. They identify the lack of access to energy and wifi as a big challenge for the community, which is why they addressed SDG 7. 
  • A+ Studies – Camaçari, Brazil
    Developed by students Ana Carolina Lima, Bruna Souza, Maria Clara Macena, Maria Clarissa Soeiro, Maria Victória Freitas, Sabrina Aguiar, Wanessa Silva with guidance from teachers Aliger dos Santos Pereira, Rosângela de Araujo, Larissa Carneiro, Adilson Oliveira from Camaçari Campus of the Federal Institute of Bahia (IFBA)
    Their project proposes the democratization of the educational system for the improvement of the studying conditions of students willing to access high quality universities not only in Brazil, but in all Portuguese speaking countries, through virtual workshops for students. SDGs addressed: 4, 10, 17.
  • Sign Language Awareness – Sogamoso, Colombia
    Developed by students Juan Pablo Escandón Leguizamo, Juan David Niño Reyes, Natalia Pérez Ortega, Verónica Salamanca Becerra with guidance from teacher Ivonne Esmeralda Cruz Estupiñan from Colegio Cooperativo Reyes Patria.
    The project brings a much needed topic to the conversation: the promotion of sign language as an optional subject at school in order to tackle discrimination against hearing impaired people, as a way to create a more inclusive school and community. SDG addressed: 10.

AFS Tools for Schools & Educators to Empower Global Citizens 

The AFS Effect+ for the Classroom Educator Toolkit is a modular and flexible curriculum that includes learning goals, discussion guides, step-by-step instructions, and activity sheets for teaching Active Global Citizenship & the SDGs for high school students. The toolkit was piloted with 150 teachers from over 70 schools in Brazil, Colombia and New Zealand who were part of the 2020-21 Effect+ for the Classroom Program Capacity-Building for Teachers. Download the Toolkit now.

For more information about the AFS Effect+ Program, click here.