Brevvännerna / The Pen Pals

SDG 4: Quality education

Brevvännerna is a Swedish NGO founded in 2018. By promoting contacts and exchange ideas between elementary- and high schools and organisations working with sustainable development, they see how pupils increase their understanding and motivation to participate in societal and sustainable development processes. They have identified a need for a plurality of actors to take the lead in introducing children and youths to the complex contemporary and future challenges we are facing today, and most importantly – invite them to become a part in finding the solutions. Brevvännerna act as a direct link between those sectors and coordinate contact and promote the exchange of ideas. They aim to widen their spectra by encouraging municipalities to use this method as a way to reach out to and include young people in the development and democratic processes.

Relation to SDG targets
Brevvännerna works more precisely towards SDG target 4.4 – ‘to substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship’ and SDG target 4.7 – ‘To 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’. Depending on the cooperation partners, Brevvännerna’s work can also cover other SDG goals.  

Relation to localizing SDGs – A practical example
Currently, Brevvännerna are working together with The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and the Institution of Electrical Engineering, to involve schools and pupils all over Sweden to contribute their ideas on how to develop the work with renewable energy sources. The pupils receive a letter from the professor at the university, which is forwarded from Brevvännernas website. The professor then asks the pupils for help to contribute their ideas on how to save energy or build solar panels on the school’s roof. In the Swedish city Lidköping, pupils got engaged with local companies and the municipality office to discuss how they collectively could save more energy in Lidköping.

Brevvännerna have identified following problems, which they are working on how to solve: 

  1. Social exclusion. 54 percent of youths experience social exclusion. Brevvännerna wants to fight this by involving pupils in important societal processes, where the pupils feel that their ideas are asked for and important to the surrounding society.
  2. Lack of knowledge of the labour market. 68 percent of youths addressed a lack of adequate information from the school, regarding the labour market. Brevvännerna wants to fight this by offering contacts with different sectors in the society, and widen the spectra of different kinds of professions that exist. 
  1. Sustainability. 67 percent of youths believe the climate crisis can be solved through cross-sectorial inclusive cooperation. Brevvännerna wants to involve young people in this work and make them a part of the solution.

Good practices & solutions
By spreading awareness of the cooperation organisations to pupils in elementary- and high school, it promotes collaboration with the future workforce. It is beneficial to the organisations, as they will get input of their work from younger generations. This collaborative method is in agreement with the curriculum for the compulsory and high school – to support teachers in teaching different subjects by offering students contacts with external actors that can enrich the students awareness and knowledge on how the organisation and the society works more actively for a sustainable development. 

Outcome & opportunities
Brevvännerna creates and improves better conditions for students to learn about the complexity of society, organisations’ initiatives for a sustainable development, as well as their own opportunities to contribute to and participate in democratic, social and sustainable development. In addition, pupils get informed about the different existing professions and their roles in the general labour market, which increases youths’ awareness of their own personal interests and possible directions for the future.

Lessons learned & recommendations
The solution to involve pupils in organisations’ development work is a successful and resource effective method for organisations to use. There is great potential to localize this method and deepen the cooperation with municipalities on how to reach out to, and involve, young citizens in developing important tasks in the municipality.

For more information about Brevvännerna, click here.

For more information about Global Utmaning’s Sweden Local2030 Hub, click here.

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Project: Sweden Local2030 Hub