Everyone should strive for good health and well-being in their lives and the lives of others. Unfortunately, not every nation or community has access to the healthcare and support that it needs to prosper. There are also social and infrastructure challenges to overcome in order for these nations to progress.
Good health and well-being is a key part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It aims to boost global life expectancy and end epidemics of deadly diseases. It also seeks to reduce other health risks, such as substance abuse and traffic accidents. Improvements to hygiene, reproductive health, and access to family planning are also part of the SDGs.
Why It Is Important to Teach Good Health and Well-being
SDG 3 is a broad-reaching goal that touches on many tangible aspects of life. These are not abstract concepts but things that affect people all over the world every single day. Equally, while there are huge challenges to overcome in order to meet this goal, even small changes will have a real impact on lives.
Some of the aims of this SDG deal with global crises and epidemics, but others are smaller scale. They include
- increasing life expectancy around the world;
- reducing infant and maternal mortality;
- ending epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other communicable diseases;
- halving the number of deaths and injuries from road accidents;
- improving the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotics and harmful use of alcohol; and
- improving universal access to family planning.
Teaching this SDG in the classroom has real value to today’s students, who will see the impact that they can have on global society.
Using SDG 3 to Inform Part of a Teaching Program
As SDG 3 covers so many areas of life and society, it forms an important and useful framework for the teaching of many subjects. The various aspects of this SDG add real-world context to academic subjects such as biology, sociology, economics, and politics. This can lead students to become even more engaged with their education, as they can readily grasp the real-life impacts of the subject being discussed.
Biological and societal issues can be discussed through the lens of the diseases that the SDG seeks to tackle. This could range from the cellular study of viruses and diseases to the ways in which they are spread. Classroom discussion could focus on the societal factors that allow diseases like malaria to thrive, such as inadequate access to medication in some communities.
Educators could also explore the sociological and psychological causes of substance abuse with their students, as well as how society can help to mitigate that abuse. Finally, while mortality rates have declined significantly since 1990, more than five million children lose their lives before their fifth birthdays.
Teachers could examine the causes of this—such as the impact of poverty—and ensure students are aware of the significant threats of infant and maternal mortality.
These are all major, health-affecting issues that act as a powerful lens through which to view the US curriculum.
Health and Well-being as a Cornerstone of Global Leadership
SDG 3 focuses on many issues that affect humanity on a global scale. For example, while there are around 1,700 cases of malaria diagnosed in the US every year, this pales in comparison with the 216 million cases that occur annually across the world.
It is essential to students’ education that they are able to see the bigger picture when it comes to the issues raised by this SDG. It will allow them to develop into people who look beyond their own experiences and communities. It will also help them to consider the human race on a global scale.
Encouraging a wider perspective is at the heart of global leadership and is something that all educators should aim for as part of their teaching programs and lesson plans. It enlightens students as to the challenges, circumstances, and inequalities faced by others around the world. This breeds both curiosity and empathy with those outside of students’ immediate experiences.
On top of that, educating students on global health and well-being challenges can lead to a feeling of empowerment. By showing them the challenges to overcome on the way to meeting this SDG, it will also allow them to see the positive effects that they can have on the world in the future.
While some of the issues highlighted by this SDG will require a massive coordinated effort to overcome—such as reducing epidemics—even small changes to society can make a big difference to humanity.
At Participate Learning, we have a collection of global education resources to help educators nurture global leaders in their classrooms. We hope that by using this framework, teachers can add new perspective to the curriculum by bringing in the additional context provided by the UN’s SDGs.
Ensuring good health and well-being at all ages is something that we should all strive for. By educating today’s students on this SDG, educators can lay the groundwork for improving conditions for the human race around the globe.