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Open School of Sustainable Development (Openshkola)
Introduction

Openshkola (openshkola.org) is a volunteer-based organization that promotes the ideas of sustainable development by providing information to the Russian-speaking people through online education. The aim of the project is to spread ideas of sustainable development as a concept for the further development of society in Russia, Russian-speaking countries and the world community as a whole. We think it is necessary to deliver information to everyone who wants to know more and be a responsible inhabitant of the planet Earth or simply a Global citizen.

Objective of the practice

Already in 2013, we recognized that there is a lack of information in Russian about sustainable development. We started the project aiming to educate Russian-speaking people around the world about sustainability, its issues, and Sustainable Development Goals. We were providing webinars in our free time and it brought around 500 people from more than 60 countries. Right now only our online course has more than 6K students, the whole audience is more than 12K.
Our main goal is to attract the attention of Russian-speaking civil society and population to sustainability issues, to change lifestyle patterns, provide information that there are solutions for the critical condition of our planet. Our audience is growing fast as well as a network of partners. We inform people about sustainable practices and lifestyles that they can directly implement in their lives. We are also informed that our materials are used by teachers who attended our courses and webinars. They conduct lessons using our materials spreading the word on sustainability further to their students, transforming Russian-speaking communities by providing alternative information to the next generations. Such information is very important for the formation of civil society in countries with transition economies as Russia and other post-Soviet countries.
Openshkola is a volunteer-based organization. We do not have any funding. All work is conducted by volunteer young sustainability experts. Our experience has and continues to demonstrate that even with limited resources but with proper motivation it is possible to organize nationwide and even international campaigns on SDGs.
We provide online, open education for everyone who speaks Russian. The innovative nature of our project consists in the ability to keep it at low-cost and use the latest communication technologies to make our materials engaging and fun at the same time and overcome remoteness and geographical isolation in Russia and other post-Soviet countries. We use various available digital tools where each student can get deep understanding and interact with experts directly, translators-volunteers work with texts on sustainability issues, we made international sustainability literacy test available in Russian that makes sustainability education equal for everybody in the world. All materials are created with efforts of a small gifted team who are spread around the world and uses information and communication tools, achieving the maximum effect and covering as much ground as possible – educationally and geographically.

Key stakeholders and partnerships

The main target audience is youth, 18-35 mainly, who are willing to make a change with limited resources. In 2016 Openshkola initiative was honored by SDSN Youth as one of “50 game-changing projects in sustainable development led by young people”. Among our official partners are local agencies: UNIC, UNDP, SDSN, SDSN Youth, UNESCO, FAO, UN Volunteers, SDG Academy, CAN, Sulitest, AIESEC, Action for Sustainable Development, National Youth Council of Russia and more others. We partner with these organization on different projects, for example, only our online campaign attracted more than 70 partners from Russian-speaking region.

Implementation of the Project/Activity

We provide online education in Russian by (a) creating of MOOCs; (b) organizing monthly webinars on sustainability topics; (c) organizing online campaigns (d) translating MOOCs of SDG Academy and SDSN into Russian; (e) adapting sustainability literacy test ‘Sulitest’ for Russia and other post-Soviet countries; (f) conducting public speaking events. This approach uses innovative technologies and tools to make education on sustainability affordable and accessible to people and overcome remoteness and geographical isolation in Russia and other post-Soviet countries.

Results/Outputs/Impacts

In 6 years we:
- put together 20 permanent activists who are younger than 30 years old and engaged more than 450 volunteers from all over the world;
- have acquired more than 12K subscribers in social networks;
- created a full-fledged massive online course on sustainable development in Russian (more than 6K students right now);
- co-creating a short massive online course on SDGs in Russian for CSO with Russian partner organizations;
- conducted two massive online campaigns on SDGs and attracted more than 70 partners from Russian-speaking countries (sdg.openshkola.org);
- we are Coordinating Organization for International Sustainability Test Sulitest in Russian;
- published more than 50 articles on sustainable development and SDGs;
- translated 10 online SDG Academy courses;
- conducted 20+ workshops and seminars on SDGs publicly and online and more.

At the current stage, the Open School implements a number of volunteer-based projects to promote the ideas of sustainable development:
- Online campaign #ЗнайСвоиЦели (Know Your Goals)
-Translation of online materials from our partners
- Coordination Russian Sulitest
- Online courses
- Free webinars
- Public speaking

Enabling factors and constraints

Sustainability is one of the main discussed topics at the high-level meetings. Unfortunately, Russian-speaking people in the CIS and other countries are not really aware of it as there is a lot of misleading and lack of proper information. This lack also leads to limited integration to global processes and believe in misleading ideas. We would like to educate Russian-speaking audience in non-formal way using online courses and webinars, and prospectively organize live events.

Sustainability and replicability

By our example, we prove that even without funding but with enthusiastic volunteers project can operate more than 6 years and this experience is definitely replicable.

Conclusions

Other sources of information

Goal 4
Goal 12
Goal 13
Other, please specify
Volunteer-based organization
Basic information
Start: 21 April, 2013
Completion: 22 February, 2019
Ongoing? no
Region
Europe
Countries
Geographical Coverage
Entity
Open School of Sustainable Development (Openshkola)
Type: Civil society organization
Contact information
Nelya Rakhimova, Founder and CEO, rakhimova@openshkola.org,
Photos
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United Nations