Progressing towards achieving SDG 2030 through classroom projects and activities as envisaged by NEP 2020

Many pressing global issues are addressed in the consolidated 17 sustainable developmental goals proposed by the United Nations with a deadline of 2030 for achieving the same. Developing economies like India need to integrate the idea of sustainability in the everyday living of its society. India is poised to emerge as a powerful economy because of the demographic transition and dividend it is experiencing. The youth in the country need to be part of this sustainability revolution. One method to achieve the same is through reforms in the education system. Effective pedagogical interventions in school and college curriculum will not only make sustainability a way of life but it will remain a legacy passed through generations. India is in the process of implementing its highly ambitious and visionary reforms through NEP 2020. The Five important factors on which the National Education Policy is based on is access, equity, affordability, accountability, and quality. When this policy is implemented in it’s true spirit these five factors will reinforce our nation’s commitment towards achieving United Nations (UN) 2030 agenda for sustainable development(Kumar et al., 2021) 


The SDGs are a result of the largest consultation process, resulting in 17 main goals and 169 sub-targets (Ranganathan et al., 2017). The United Nations and other allied bodies come up in regular intervals with action plans which are basically things that can be done to achieve sustainability goals. But experts in the field of SDGs acknowledge the fact that  action plans need not necessarily lead to action and there may be other means to achieve success in the world’s sustainability journey (Easterly, 2015). Also, it has to be noted that each country is on it’s own when it comes to creating, funding and implementing its national and regional plans towards the SDG 20303 targets (Swain, 2018). Hence countries need to look at their own unique ways of achieving these targets. A developing country like India can incorporate sustainability as a way of life through education reforms and the currently implemented NEP2020 can act as a stimulus for the same.  

NEP 2020 and Experiential Learning 

The quote by Confucius says “I HEAR AND I FORGET I SEE AND I REMEMBER I DO AND I UNDERSTAND”. This forms the basis for experiential learning. In experiential learning, the instructor has to initiate and give the  stimulus, and the quality of that stimulus will vary greatly depending upon the pedagogical approach used(Gentry, 1990). Experientially based approaches involve four phases in process delivery (Wolfe and Byrne, 1975): design, conduct, evaluation, and feedback. 

The suggested pedagogy for NEP 2020 where experiential learning can be incorporated is - 

Foundational Stage (ages 3-8) - Flexible, multi-level, play/activity-based learning. 

Preparatory Stage (Grades 3-5, covering ages 8-11) - Play, discovery, and activity-based pedagogical and curricular style. 

Middle Stage (Grades 6-8, covering ages 11-14) –  Explorations of relations among different subjects. 

Secondary Stage (Grades 9-12, covering ages 14-18) - Greater attention to life aspirations. 

Each of the 17 SDG goals are defined by a few targets which when achieved will signal the achievement of that goal. Below the author has suggested a few targets which can see contribution by school/college activities and projects and hence  make students ambassadors of SDGs. 


Target 1.4 listed under SDG 1 in the UN Website says “By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services” ( Students in secondary school who have taken up subjects in commerce can be given a project to start a business which can address a social issue which is global or  local in nature. Some examples of the same could be catering to the needs of an ageing population, promoting waste management. Students can be given projects where they can help local self- help groups to market their products in the digital space. 


Target 2.1 listed under SDG 2 in the UN Website says “End hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people invulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round”. ( HUL ‘s sustainable living plan has popularized the concept of fridge night mission where in general public are encouraged not to cook fresh food for one  dinner or lunch per week and instead encouraged to try new recipes with left over items in their fridge. In line with Hellman’s recipes, students can be encouraged to develop recipe card based on local eating habits and leftovers available in the household locally. Students from food and nutrition course ,fitness management in higher secondary level can take the lead and also conduct camps and workshops. 


Target 3.5 listed under SDG 3 in the UN Website says “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol". Similarly target 3.6 says “By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents” ( The targets of SDG 3 cover and focus on various aspects of healthy life and healthy lifestyle. Class activities having a staggering question answer session with students in class 6-8 during social studies class can drive home important lessons when concluded with a discussion. One example is  

  • You are not invited to a high profile party –express your feelings. 

  • You are told that you are not invited because you are a police officer’s son. 

  • Everyone in the class is going...

  • You may choose to have or not have … 

  • Will you tell your father or not? 

  • Will you go or not if invited 

Such kind of  in-class discussion of the subject such as drug abuse, liquor addiction, rash driving, social media addiction, gaming addiction during the primary school itself will leave lasting impression in the minds of students that we as a society need not spend our time, effort or money in fighting this menace. 

Subjects related to sports, nutrition can have projects which might include organising a sports camp or local marathon on a Sunday or starting a running club for under privileged children. Running clubs can be part of school curriculum. Students should be allowed to have debates, group discussion on the topic of usage of drugs in sports, the spirit of sportsmanship, celebrating sports etc. 


Target 4.7 listed under SDG 4 in the UN Website “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”. ( Students from secondary school can be brand ambassadors promoting girl child education in backward areas and students can be given targets to increase enrolment numbers in local government schools where the numbers are small. BTL campaigns can be designed and rolled out by students to get students to school. Also students studying in prestigious schools can be given projects to design and implement NEP 2020 in other less privileged schools helping the administrators and tutors.They can be given targets to help smaller schools get fund from Government as well as other CSR funding for classroom infrastructure. The project titled brighten up a school can be given to group of senior secondary students. 


Target 5.5 listed under SDG 5 in the UN Website says “Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life”                                    

Class activities –Newspapers are a huge source of caselets  

  • Talk about glass ceiling news, talk about successful women which has come in newspaper  

  • Stopping women from entering Sabarimala.  

  • Dowry Death 

Ask students to talk about women in their life including their house help, mother, grandmother, neighbouring aunty, tuition teacher, dance teacher, sports teacher. Let boys give their opinion and let it be moderated by the girls. The teacher has to act as a facilitator.  


Target 6.3 listed under SDG 6 in the UN Website says “By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situation” 
( ).Students from Middle school onwards can be asked to conduct workshop in rural and semi urban areas regarding menstrual hygiene as well help in setting up sanitary pad vending machine or sanitary pad disposing machine by getting CSR funding for the same.the accounts teacher can ask students to identify CSR funding availability, the social outreach teacher can ask for identification of corporates working in this area and the marketing students can be asked to make the pitch to get the CSR funding.This will then become a multidisciplinary project.  


Target 7.1 listed under SDG 7 in the UN Website says “By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services”. ( One of the indicators of the same are proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology. 

Students from foundation course can be told stories about natural disasters caused by climate change. Then staggering questions can be asked for their reaction. Students can be assessed on the basis of how original their answers are and how well they are able to articulate. 

Before breaking for summer and winter vacations students from foundation stage can be told about responsible tourism through role plays ,jiggles and  reels. These multimedia material can be made by higher secondary students by visiting local tourist spot and pre-empting possible irresponsible acts of tourists. 


Target 8.3 listed under SDG 8 in the UN Website says “Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services” ( ). One of the indicators of the same are proportion of informal employment in total employment, by sector and sex.  

Students can visit local industries and  create educational videos in regional languages which can be distributed for angawadi. For example students can visit a cage farm, interview and experience first-hand the fish farming techniques and practices employed and also  document it. These educational videos on coir manufacturing or fish farming can be shown to students in angawadi. If made in local language and they can be asked to talk on it with experience from their home. 


Target 9.1 listed under SDG 9 in the UN Website  says Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all ( The importance of transport for climate action is further recognized under the UNFCCC - the transport sector will be playing. 

Students can conduct surveys to understand the usability of sustainable forms of transport available in their area and the findings can be shared with the local authorities in order to increase the passenger volume which is an indicator of achieving target 9.1.Cities like ernakulam have water metro for feeder transport which can be studies with respect to consumer usage. Other cities have a good penetration of electric vehicles which can be studied. 


Target 10.2 listed under SDG 10 in the UN Website says By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status ( 

Class activities that can be conducted for middle school students are- 

  1. The teacher can arrange a psychologist to talk about how they can use social media fruitfully (Curate the talk) 

  2. The teacher can call neighbourhood or children grandparents to share about their experience but you need to curate them. 

  3. The teacher can ask them to find out from their neighbourhood what good deed the family did. 

  4. The teacher can ask them to talk about their driver’s family, maid’s family. 

  5. The teacher can arrange children exchange program within families. 


Target 11.4 listed under SDG 10 in the UN Website Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage 

Target 11.6 listed under SDG 10 in the UN Website By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and waste management (

Both the targets can be achieved through school education like many cities have drastically reduced celebrations using firecrackers. Similarly role plays depicting responsible tourism at heritage sites , using public transport to ease traffic congestion can be part of projects contributing to internal assessments in subjects of environment studies, history etc. Similarly students can be asked to design best route possible for the school bus to take in subjects like mathematics. 

One of the other activities suggested to meet the targets prescribed in SDG goal 11 is “Shop,eat and drink locally. Supporting neighbourhood businesses keeps people employed and circulates money back into the community” ( Students can  promote local business in the society by making efforts to digitally promote small business and senior entrepreneurship by creating Instagram pages as well as by helping in social media promotion. 


Target 12.5 says By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse. (

Students can be part of projects like Goonj which does a lot of short term campiangs and activities as well as some which are year around.The subject teacher depending on the profile of her students and and capability can decide to associate with any of these and grade them based on their contribution .For example Mary matha charity shop in Ernakulam has both cloth bank and food bank. Teachers who are mentors to students in the city of Ernakulam can contact the shop and understand their model,Then they can devise a pedagogy which will give experiential learning to students of grade 6-12 depending on the age.Some younger kids can be asked to collect clothes while the older kinds can be asked to handle the logistics of food bank by identifying corporate parties and weddings which can donate left over food to the needy. Some of the secondary school students can promote this shop through Instagram reels. 


Target 13.1 listed under SDG 13 in the UN Website says “By 2025, Take urgent actions to combat climate changes and its impact” ( They cover a wide range of issues surrounding climate action including the recycling of plastics. 

A Plastic collection and recycling campaign can be conducted as a science project. While the middle school students can be involved in collecting the plastic as well as e waste, the secondary school students can identify agencies which can recycle them. 


Target 14.1 listed under SDG 14 in the UN website says “By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution” (

Beach cleaning drive conducted If the beach or water front is clean the water in which aquatic animals reside will be clean and hence they will not be consuming the waste left of the seashore or beach front. This is also contribute to sustainable tourism since a clean beach will stop visitors from littering. The event was well received and publicised by the local media.

Project Sustheeram which means sustainable shores is aimed at spreading awareness on coastal vulnerability.They also developed a sustainable eco-tourism destination at Vettukad

The project Sustheeram started with weekly beach clean-ups, awareness drives, and social media outreach. From regular beach clean-up,Sustera Foundation has collected 1,050 kg of plastic waste from the Vettucadu beach and the same was handed over to the green Kerala company for recycling. Students from neighbouring schools can be part of this weekly beach cleaning activity as well as support in the entire value chain from segregation to recycling and reselling the recycled products. These can be given as projects for middle and high school students in subjects of commerce and social studies. 

SDG 15- LIFE ON LAND - Protect, Restore, promote sustainable use of terrestial ecosystem 

One of the targets of SDG 15 says “Don’t shop for pets .visit your local animal shelter and adopt an animal there” 

 ‘ADOPT A PET’ campaign can be conducted at school level in which students can encourage people to adopt different pets instead of buying them for money. By collaborating with a group of animal lovers the students can coordinate the adoption   

The school can consider having an animal lovers club and continue with this activity or take up any other task as enlisted in UN site. 


End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of  children 

Students can be asked organise activities on the topic of sex education, women’s right, anti- sexual harassment act, gender equity. These activities can be in the form of role play,self defense workshop etc. 

Similarly the rest of the SDGs can also be linked to classroom activities.There is lot of material available from the official sites of United Nations, World Bank and other related organisations which can be used by the students of all classes to curate projects .The following structured  

Schools can create a common forum where teachers from each of  the  stage  

5 years in strengthening their foundation,  

3 years in the Preparatory stage,  

3 years in the Middle stage and rest  

4 years in the secondary stage. 

Can interact in the online mode. At each stage they can devise project works needed to deliver their curriculum and link it to a relevant SDG .They can divide the project into modules and if for some module they need the help of from other stage teachers they may open it for collaboration.

If you have more ideas on this topic do feel free to write to 

We will publish it in our website  which is a platform to share classroom activities and project ideas in tune with NEP 2020 


Easterly, W. (2015), “The trouble with the sustainable development goals”, Current History, Current History, Inc., Vol. 114 No. 775, p. 322. 

Kumar, K., Prakash, A. and Singh, K. (2021), “How National Education Policy 2020 can be a lodestar to transform future generation in India”, Journal of Public Affairs, Vol. 21 No. 3, available at: 

Ranganathan, S., Nicolis, S.C., Bali Swain, R. and Sumpter, D.J.T. (2017), “Setting development goals using stochastic dynamical system models”, PloS One, Public Library of Science San Francisco, CA USA, Vol. 12 No. 2, p. e0171560. 

Swain, R.B. (2018), “A critical analysis of the sustainable development goals”, Handbook of Sustainability Science and Research, Springer, pp. 341–355. 

About the Author 

Dr.Mahalakshmi Sankar is a dynamic academician whose exemplary thought process has influenced in creating a legacy of self- driven and self-dependent young professionals in universities across India. She holds a Doctorate in Management from Mumbai University, a Masters in Business Administration and a post graduate Diploma in Business Administration. She brings in a rich academic and administrative experience from being the head of the department of management studies in a reputed college in the city of Mumbai for more than 20 years. Currently she is associated with the MBA programme of Albertian Institute of Management, Ernakulam ,kerala. She is known for her student led innovative teaching learning methodology for which she has been consistently recognized. Her research papers including ABDC & Scopus, textbooks and case studies which cut across different domain areas also gives her the opportunity to present her work in different national and global platform. Having completed the UGC approved PDP course on implementation of NEP­2020 for University and College Teachers’ with A+ grade, she also delivers expert lectures on NEP 2020 implementation and guides college and school teachers to prepare for the impending changes. She holds certifications from IIT , Kharagpur and Bombay on topics OBE & Sustainable development respectively.  Strategic Management & Sustainability projects  -Social entreprenuership projects to solve local problems    -Building student autonomy and resilience 

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