As a new communications trainee within the Advocacy Team, I have been reaching out to members to discuss the highlights of their advocacy work in 2019 and what excites them for the future.

I recently had a chance to speak to Marilena Kyriakou, the National Officer of NGO Support Centre in Cyprus, a non-profit organisation dedicated to developing and strengthening civil society and promoting active citizenship in Cyprus.

In the following interview, we discuss Marilena’s advocacy achievements in 2019 and her plans for 2020, including a national level advocacy event she is planning for February.

What does GCE mean to you?

To me, GCE falls within the sphere of education for active citizenship. It’s an umbrella term that covers any type of education that helps learners know more about social issues and empowers people to act to improve their own lives and wider society, while gaining a global perspective.

What makes you excited to work for Bridge 47?

I like how ambitious the project is, and how it believes in the power of education in transforming lives in whichever way it can be done. Bridge 47 uses education as a tool to bring change to many different levels.

Can you tell me about your advocacy work in 2019?

In Cyprus, I worked on influencing the policies and strategies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with an emphasis on the importance for the Ministry to create a new strategy that recognises the importance of education and GCE in relation to development funding. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is planning on launching a new strategy. I have also been liaising with the Minister of Education with target 4.7 in mind.

I was involved in the hiring of the researcher consultant who was preparing a report on GCE practices for Bridge 47. I was also part of meetings with the UNECE Ad Hoc Steering Committee on Education for Sustainable Development Education as a representative of civil society, working to ensure that their new implementation framework for 2030 captures elements of GCE and transformative learning, non-formal education and youth participation.

Where have you made progress in 2019?

At a national level, I have made progress with building a relationship with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I see progress in these relationship for the future. More broadly, I have also seen significant progress at EU level for advocacy through the Envision 4.7 Roadmap.

What activities from 2019 are you hoping to take forward in 2020?

Through the relationships I have built with the Ministry of Education, I am planning an advocacy event that will take place in Cyprus in February. This will coincide with the Global Education Network Europe’s (GENE) visit to Cyprus, as a follow up from their peer review on Global Education in Cyprus in 2017. The event will be a debate with different policy makers, government officials, civil society leaders and GENE representatives.

What are you looking forward to in 2020?

On a national level, I would like to see some commitments from the government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education to the recommendations set out in the Envision 4.7 Roadmap, with an interest in taking these suggestions forward. This is ambitious and will require a lot of advocacy work, but I am hopeful.

I would also like to establish a consistent relationship with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have had a positive start in 2019, as there is interest in our topics, but we need more in terms of actions. On a larger scale, I would like to see other governments taking forward the roadmap and also the roadmap recommendation progressing at European Parliament and European Commission level.

What advocacy related goals and targets will you be focusing on this year?

More collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, and the chance to organising some events with them as well as with any other bodies coordinating the Agenda 2030 implementation in Cyprus.