Embrace Excellence, Follow Finland: A Call to Action for Sustainable Education!


We often spend a lot of time trying to come up with new ideas, even when there are proven methods that work well. Finland has done a great job in achieving goals for education and sustainable development. They focus on ensuring teachers are well-trained, treating students fairly, and encouraging creativity.

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Instead of always trying to invent new ways of doing things, we could learn from Finland’s success. By following their example, we can save time and resources and make progress in education and sustainable development more effectively. It’s like using a roadmap that has already been tested and found to lead to success, rather than constantly trying to find a new path.

In light of Finland’s exemplary model in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and education targets and Action4Agriculture’s extensive monitoring, evaluating and reporting, we recommend that the government undertake a comprehensive policy overhaul to enhance the quality and inclusivity of our education system.

Drawing inspiration from Finland’s key success factors, we propose the following initiatives:

  1. Commitment to Education as a Fundamental Right:
    • Establish and reinforce a national commitment to education as a fundamental right for all citizens, ensuring access and opportunity for every student.
  2. Equitable Education System:
    • Implement measures to reduce disparities among schools and regions, fostering a standardized education system that prioritizes equality and addresses educational inequalities.
  3. Teacher Training and Professionalism:
    • Invest in rigorous teacher training programs to elevate the qualifications and professionalism of educators, acknowledging their pivotal role in the success of the education system.
  4. Child-Centric Approach:
    • Shift the focus from standardized testing towards fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, aligning educational practices with the broader goals of sustainable development.
  5. Holistic Well-Being:
    • Incorporate a holistic approach to education, valuing not only academic achievement but also the overall well-being of students. Integrate health and well-being components into the curriculum.
  6. Social Welfare Policies:
    • Develop and enhance social welfare policies that create a supportive environment for students, addressing healthcare, social security, and family support to indirectly contribute to various SDGs beyond education.
  7. Innovation and Adaptability:
    • Promote innovation and adaptability within the education system, fostering an environment that evolves to meet the changing needs of society and equipping students for the challenges of the future.
  8. Collaboration and Consensus:
    • Encourage collaboration and consensus-building in education policymaking, involving stakeholders such as teachers, parents, and policymakers to create a sense of ownership and commitment to the education system.
  9. Focus on Lifelong Learning:
    • Recognize the importance of lifelong learning by designing educational programs that instill a love for learning throughout individuals’ lives, aligning with Finland’s successful approach.
  10. Environmental Sustainability:
    • Integrate environmental sustainability into educational practices and curriculum, aligning with broader SDGs beyond education and contributing to a global agenda for a sustainable future.

Conclusion: By adopting these recommendations, our government can pave the way for a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable education system. Emulating Finland’s successful model will not only contribute to achieving SDGs but will also foster a society that values education as a cornerstone for sustainable development and societal well-being.

#FollowFinland #SustainableEducationNow #LearnFromTheBest #GlobalGoals #EducationForAll #SDGSuccess #InnovateWithPurpose #HolisticLearning #FutureLeaders #SmartChoices


Cultivating Tomorrow’s Leaders: The Impact of Action4Agriculture’s Young Environmental Champions Program

In an era defined by global challenges, Action4Agriculture’s Young Environmental Champions (YEC) program stands as a beacon of transformative education for primary and secondary school students.

This innovative initiative empowers young minds to be effective communicators, critical thinkers, and leaders capable of tackling pressing global issues. Partnering with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the YEC program is a 10-week action learning journey that combines in-person and online workshops, leadership coaching, and mentorship, actively pairing students with community experts as role models and workshop co-hosts.

Empowering Through Education:

The YEC journey covers a diverse range of topics, including SDGs, team building, project management, design thinking, systems thinking, and community action planning. The program guides students to investigate global issues, appreciate diverse perspectives, communicate effectively, and take action on matters vital to them. With a youth-led and co-designed approach, the YEC program creates an environment where students become architects of their own learning experience.

Real-World Impact:

The success of the YEC program is evident in the array of impactful projects undertaken by students. From sustainable fishing and waste management to mental health improvement and climate action, these young environmental champions are reshaping communities. For instance, Hamilton Public School’s “People Power” project, focusing on SDGs 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) and 13 (Climate Action), promotes people-powered modes of transport to enhance community health. Meanwhile, St Joseph’s Lochinvar won in the secondary section with a flood mitigation project aligning with SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and 15 (Life on Land).

Measuring Impact:

A comprehensive evaluation conducted by Danielle Blenkhorn from Sustainable Schools highlights the profound positive impact of the YEC program. Read the report here 


Key findings include:

  1. Dynamic Leadership Development:
    • The program serves as a dynamic leadership initiative, motivating students to become agents of change.

  1. Deepened Understanding of SDGs:
    • Participants develop a deeper understanding of the SDGs, with a notable increase in knowledge levels by the program’s completion.

  1. Enhanced Skills and Wellbeing:
    • Students report increased 21st-century skills, including heightened confidence in areas promoting resilience and wellbeing.
    • Improvement in communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving, and project planning.
  2. Positive Changes in Student Actions:
    • Participating students report changing thoughts and actions on sustainability, including increased knowledge, improved skills, and empowerment to take individual and collective action.
  3. Notable Confidence Boosts:
    • Substantial increases in students’ confidence levels observed across various areas, such as seeking help from teachers, developing school project plans, and contributing to community improvement.

  1. Transformational Impact on Students:
    • Anecdotal evidence highlights the program’s transformative impact, leading to increased engagement, confidence, and personal growth.

In essence, the Youth Environmental Champions program is not merely an educational endeavor; it’s a catalyst for positive shifts in attitudes, confidence, and proactive engagement among the participating students. As these young minds graduate from the program, they carry with them the skills and mindset essential for shaping a sustainable and resilient future. Action4Agriculture is sowing the seeds of leadership, and the Youth Environmental Champions are poised to reap a harvest of positive change.

#YouthLeadership #EnvironmentalChampions #Action4Agriculture #SDGsInAction #TransformativeEducation #FutureLeaders #GlobalChangemakers #SustainableFuture #YouthEmpowerment #InnovationInEducation #ResilientCommunities #ClimateAction #CommunityEngagement #LeadershipDevelopment #YouthInAg #PositiveImpact #EducationForChange #InspiringLeadership #EmpowerTheFuture #SustainabilityJourney #YouthVoice #21stCenturySkills #CultivatingLeadership #YouthAction #ChangemakersInTraining


A Journey to Regeneration with Belltrees Public School

At Action4Agriculture we believe tomorrow’s problems can be solved today, if we can break down silo thinking and move beyond self interest to a collaborative model that sees people and organisations working together for the greater good.

Today we celebrate Belltrees Public School and their collaborators – a beacon of hope showing others it can be done


“Go to the experts and then bring the experts back”

Belltrees Public is a small school with big ambitions. Located east of Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley, this school, which in 2023 has only 3 students, is on a mission to become the greenest little school in Australia.

Students engage in a range of sustainability-based programs, led by a Youth Environmental Council, including carbon-emission reduction, waste minimisation and slow food but it is their award-winning (National Sustainable Communities – Young Legend award) journey to agricultural regeneration that truly showcases the power of entrusting our future to the young.

The catalyst for this remarkable journey was a barren school paddock. While standing around this area, void of life in 2019’s challenging drought, a question was asked to local farmer, Rob Scott:

“How do we prepare these students for the challenges they’ll face with changing climatic conditions?”

Rob replied: “Have you heard of regenerative farming?”

Rob’s response prompted a school visit to the Mulloon Institute at Bungendore in NSW, but this was more than a simple excursion.

“Belltrees Public School wanted to support the community in the midst of the worst drought in a century. So, in discussion with Rob, we set the task of hosting an excursion for local farmers to come with the school to learn about regenerative agriculture principles. We secured funding to ensure no farmers were financially restricted from attending, organised our experts and opened it up to students, families and local farmers to attend,” Belltrees principal Shane Roberts says.

Following their adopted motto of “go to the experts and then bring the experts back”, in 2021 the school community hosted a field day on their grounds. Special guest was Martin Royds, who took the opportunity to meet with local farmers outside the school environment. Also involved with the field day were the Warrambungles National Park Environmental Education Centre, the Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens, Hunter Local Land Services and Murrurundi and Ellerston Public Schools.

The journey continued in 2022 with another excursion, this time to Armidale to visit five regenerative farms, and again the experts were brought back to the Upper Hunter where 80 farmers attended a field day. In conjunction, Belltrees organised a tree planting day enlisting Costa Georgiadis, Upper Hunter Landcare and Wallabadah and Martindale Public Schools to help celebrate their success.

In the process the once barren paddock has been transformed. A groundswell of interest in regenerative practices from the students, staff and parents now sees chickens and sheep sharing space with an orchard and vegetable plots. Neighbouring schools have taken an active interest in this real-world model for learning about sustainability and beyond the revived school plot countless hectares in the community are benefitting from regenerative agriculture as local farmers ride the wave with the students.

Byron and Fiona Hubbard from Balarang Station in the Upper Hunter are two of those farmers.

“We have been involved with the Belltrees Public School regenerative journey for the past four years and have really enjoyed watching the whole community get behind it and learn from the experiences we have all had together …. To share this with fellow members of our farming community made it all too easy to benefit from the experience. We have all gone on to implement some of these practices into our farm and this has influenced others to try the same,” Byron says.

The Belltrees community has come together to support this journey. Fund-raising enabled participants beyond the school to attend and contribute and this has been re-paid as farmers and other experts have ensured students are maximising their educational opportunities.

“At the core of our efforts has been collaboration. Reaching out to experts in the field to support our next generation better understand the challenges and opportunities that the future holds is key to our planning. We have focused on addressing the Sustainable Development Goals through our schools Youth Environment Council. Each project we have embarked on has led our small school to forming strong relationships with individuals, organisations and collaborators who have guided, supported and mentored us through our efforts,” Shane says.

The journey to regeneration continues. In October the school will host a Paddock to Plate Day and in November will run a Journey to Regeneration field day incorporating the screening of “Rachel’s Farm”, a documentary looking at actor Rachel Ward’s own regenerative journey.

Rachel Ward may have the clout that comes from a life in film-making. Belltrees Public School has the clout of their community and an unwavering commitment to harness a far greater audience – our young people.