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Education and Global Citizenship – A Vital Link

To broadly define Global Citizenship Education (GCE), we can state that it is a learning framework that enables individuals and communities to aspire and actively participate in the societal transformation towards a more equitable, sustainable, and peaceful world. A collaborative and lifelong learning process, Global Citizenship Education furthers individual and collective competencies necessary to promote and act towards societal transformation.

Acquiring global citizenship requires a certain level of educational competency. If we are serious about nurturing and scaling this competency, we need to focus on bringing these concepts into the classrooms. Instead, the spotlight is currently on building parallel delivery systems or remedial programs. To solve this imbalance, using educational tools and aligning our teaching paradigm with the values of global citizenship are novel ways of propagating a
generational shift steeped in universal ethics.

Global citizenship, though, is not a subject that can be taught like physics or biology. The dispositions of individuals to be global citizens is not an exact science. However, there are several growing attempts to integrate global citizenship practices and principles throughout curricula in schools and universities. For example, UNESCO is spearheading an initiative to promote global citizenship education. In their approach, global citizenship education can be a critical factor in achieving more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure, and sustainable societies. A reference to the value of promoting global citizenship can also be found in the Whitepaper on Global Citizenship 16 SDGs. Specifically, goal 4.7 states that “by 2030, [the aim is] 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

Additionally, we can see the efforts to gather more data about student’s global citizenship Competencies. The OECD’s PISA study now includes questions that aim to capture global competencies in terms of knowledge and cognitive skills. Achieving a deep integration of global citizenship education throughout schools’ curricula is a vital step. However, it requires ongoing efforts and lobbying by its proponents. To sustain and support these positive developments, we will need the proper capacitation for educators to be prepared and trained to bring global Competencies into the classrooms. When teachers allow students to raise topics on ethical, moral, social, and civic issues for constructive discussions, it will enable today’s youth to express their take and refine their thought on varied subjects. Such a free environment creates an ideal ground for students to carry out their experiments and explore new avenues. This can inspire them to imbibe the values of empathy, collaboration, and reasoning, all of which play a pivotal role in a global citizen’s life, just like the appreciation of diversity and the potential of any human.

Therefore, an important goal of global citizenship education is to incentivize individuals to adopt a broad mindset. One of the indicators of becoming a global citizen is recognizing and removing one’s “tunnel vision”. Diverse thoughts aid in cultivating multiplicity and accommodation in our mindsets. They are said to possess a ‘revolutionary power’, an idea whose proof is manifested in global experiences and personal stories. Schools are formative spaces where social identity is constructed. Teachers play an influential role in developing the worldview of the next generation. Tangible activities around SDGs may increase a feeling of responsibility in learners. Even little projects with a positive and visible impact, such as installing recycling opportunities, workshops about gender equality or community cleanup activities, may seed in students the feeling of empowerment. When pairing reflective educational practices with tangible actions, global citizenship as an overarching concept will be in a favorable position to make inroads into the local realm.

The above article is an excerpt from our WhitePaper on The State of Global Citizenship. Global citizenship is not just a mere term in social vogue today; it is a real phenomenon, playing out in different areas of the world stage today. To know more about Global Citizenship and the Melton Foundation, do read the full version of our WhitePaper, available here!