Abstract: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations in 2015, cover a wide range of interrelated goals, including poverty eradication and economic growth, social inclusion, environmental sustainability, and peace for all people by 2030.
Findings from a comprehensive survey of 200 students revealed that while awareness remains low, there is a strong desire among students to learn more about the SDGs.
To bridge this awareness gap, this article recommends integrating the SDGs into the educational curriculum and leveraging mass media for dissemination. Additionally, it suggests harnessing extracurricular activities and peer-led initiatives to promote the SDGs on campus.
The following are the proceedings and outcome of the research project:
Introduction: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed to address global challenges. These goals span diverse issues, including poverty, hunger, climate action, and gender equality.
However, it is crucial to assess how well these goals are understood and embraced at the grassroots level since the achievement of these goals needs to be informed by policy-relevant evidence co-designed and co-produced with the pertinent stakeholders, leaving no one behind.
Universities are uniquely placed to lead the cross-sectoral implementation of the SDGs and advance the 2030 agenda. This research focuses on students at the University of Ghana’s main campus, investigating their awareness and knowledge of the SDGs.
Methodology: A cross-sectional study was conducted, encompassing the entire student body at the University of Ghana. A sample of 200 students was chosen using convenience sampling, and data was collected through an online survey featuring structured questions. Statistical analysis was performed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), and hypotheses were tested using the chi-square test.
- The average age of respondents was 22 years, with half of them being less than 22 years old.
- Approximately half (49%) of the respondents were female, and the majority (90%) were undergraduates.
- Surprisingly, only 38% of the respondents were aware of the SDGs.
- Among those aware, the “People” critical area of SDGs garnered the most recognition, particularly SDG 1 (No poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 4 (Quality education), and SDG 5 (Gender equality).
- In contrast, the “Planet” critical area had the lowest awareness, with SDG 14 (Life below water) and SDG 15 (Life on land) being the least known.
- Social media emerged as the primary source of information about SDGs for 55% of respondents who were aware of them.
- Worryingly, only 17% of the entire sample demonstrated adequate knowledge about the SDGs.
- A remarkable 81% of respondents expressed a keen interest in learning more about the SDGs, with 77% aspiring to grasp all aspects of these global goals.
- Additionally, only 22% of respondents were familiar with six initiatives on the University of Ghana campus, with the UG Plastic Recycling Project being the most recognized.
- Notably, peers and mass media played pivotal roles in disseminating information about these initiatives.
- To enhance awareness of SDGs on campus, 31% of respondents recommended utilizing extracurricular activities and mass media.
Discussion: The study underscores the need for increased awareness and knowledge of the SDGs among University of Ghana students. Despite the low levels of awareness identified, the study reveals a significant appetite among students for learning about these global goals.
To address this knowledge gap, it is recommended that the SDGs be integrated into the national educational curriculum, from primary to tertiary levels. Additionally, mass media campaigns can be instrumental in communicating the importance of the SDGs.
Furthermore, extracurricular activities and peer-led initiatives have the potential to play a critical role in promoting the SDGs on campus.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the study’s findings indicate a deficiency in the awareness and knowledge of the SDGs among students at the University of Ghana’s main campus. Nevertheless, the overwhelming interest displayed by students in learning more about these goals offers a ray of hope.
To foster greater awareness and understanding, it is imperative to integrate the SDGs into the educational curriculum and employ mass media as a robust communication channel. Moreover, the university should encourage and support extracurricular activities related to the SDGs, empowering students to take an active role in their achievement.
- Integrate SDGs into the national educational curriculum.
- Launch and sustain mass media campaigns to promote awareness and understanding of the SDGs.
- Encourage and facilitate extracurricular activities aligned with the SDGs.
- Support and promote peer-led initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and knowledge about the SDGs on campus.
Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, awareness, knowledge, University of Ghana, education, mass media, extracurricular activities, initiatives.
El-Jardali, F., Ataya, N. and Fadlallah, R. (2018). Changing roles of universities in the era of Sustainable Development Goals: Rising up to the global challenge through institutionalizing partnerships with governments and Communities. Health Resource Policy Systems 16, 28.
Bhowmik, J., Selim, S. A. and Huq. S. (2017). The Role of universities in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. CSD-ULAB and ICCCAD Policy Brief, Dhaka: ULAB.
Este, D. and Ingley, C. (2016). Higher education curriculum for sustainability: International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol.17 No. 2, pp. 269-280
UN General Assembly (2015). Resolution 70/1, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a/res/70/1. Retrieved on 2nd April, 2020 from https://www.un.org.
United Nations General Assembly. (2015). Transforming our world; 2030 Agenda for SDGs. Retrieved on 26th March, 2020 from https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Documents/speeches/2015/speech844.pdf
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