Survey Reveals Students Now Believe Health Should Be Top Developmental Goal
In a year dominated by the pandemic, it comes as no surprise that students at Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences now believe health and wellbeing should be one of the world's top sustainable development goals. Almost 120 undergraduates were surveyed on the topic as part of Wittenborg's final Project Week of the calendar year.
"An unhealthy person cannot focus on learning"
Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Quality Education was ranked as the number one priority for students, followed by Good Health and Poverty Reduction. One student established a clear link between health and education, noting: "An unhealthy person cannot focus on learning new things."
Another writes: "Global health and (good) living standards are important to develop a society. Once it has that, the financial issues of the country will decrease because they will not have to spend a lot of money on medicine and vaccines. Moreover, the country will also have a healthy and strong labour force, which is important for development."
"Education allows for social mobility"
Many students see education as the way out for those imprisoned by poverty and class, with one writing: "Education allows for social mobility. It means that people can change their life situation by making an effort in school, college and university."
For the final Project Week, students were asked to fast-forward 10 years, bringing them to 2030 and the end of the Agenda for the 17 SDGs. They now have to design a futuristic Wittenborg campus that incorporates at least 5 of the 17 UN SDGs, and one that also fits within the concepts contained in Wittenborg's mission statement and values as well as the vision of Apeldoorn municipality for 2040 (for students in Apeldoorn).
Students were also asked to choose the least important development goal in their view. Partnerships to Achieve the Development Goal was listed as the least important, followed by a tie between Life under Water and Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Disappointingly, Gender Equality also made it on the list of Top 5 least important goals, while at the same time drawing strong views from those who deem it as one of the most important. Students also had strong opinions on inequality in general – whether based on race, age, disability or gender.
"Address inequality after the pandemic"
"During a pandemic, the poorest group of people are most at risk of contracting the virus, but have little access to quality health care," one student, who sees reducing inequality as the number one priority, writes. "People living in climate-impacted and conflict zones still face the most severe threats of hunger. Therefore, places where poverty rates are high will have many new poor people.
"After the pandemic, countries need to work towards a sustainable and comprehensive recovery, transform and abandon unsustainable models of production and consumption, and promote economic growth while ensuring no environmental pollution, thereby tackling the causes of social and ecological inequality and realising the global ambition to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere."
"Give the poor a voice"
Another student writes: "Our social dilemma is that the rich and those in leadership positions (the elite) make decisions for the less privileged and lower class. Reducing inequality will give room for the marginalised to express their views on transforming the economy, society, environment and political system."
"Women used to lead in China, now it's the opposite"
On Gender Equality, one Chinese student wrote: "Although it is impossible to be equal in everything, there needs to be a balance reset. Traditionally, in Chinese history it was the women who lead the people. Now it is the opposite and the balance is totally lost. It is time to reset."
by Anesca Smith
©Wittenborg University Press