In a fast-changing and globalized reality, there are many who believe that education can, and should, help young people to meet the challenges they will confront now and in the future, and that educating for global citizenship is now more important and urgent than ever before. Upon reflection back over this decade of work, however, there is an indication that not a lot of progress has been made in expanding education for global citizenship (Schulz, 2007; Canadian Council for International Cooperation, 2004).
In the early 1990s, with the financial assistance of the former Canadian International Development Agency and inspired by visions of global solidarity, Canadian schools and community organizations joined together in efforts to educate students on global society, though since then funding has been cut drastically, and coordinated efforts across sectors have decreased, as schools and NGOs face their own budget cuts.
In a recent poll conducted by VisionCritical and the Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils for Global Cooperation, it was found that one third of Canadians rank global poverty (hunger in the world) among the first, second and third most concerning issues to them globally. Moreover, the majority of Canadians believe there is a human rights obligation to reduce global poverty, and believe there are significant benefits to doing so, including improving Canada’s international reputation, reducing global conflict, and reducing risks of pandemics.
As the MDGs era comes to a conclusion with the end of the year, 2016 ushers in the official launch of the bold and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders last September at the United Nations.
The new Agenda calls on countries to begin efforts to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next 15 years.
“The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “They are a to-do list for people and planet, and a blueprint for success.”
Global Citizenship Education is essential for the following reasons:
- Education for Global Citizenship gives young people access to the knowledge, understanding, skills, and values that they need to participate fully in ensuring their own and others’ well-being, and to make a positive contribution both locally and globally.
- Global Citizenship Education involves children and youth fully in their own learning through the use of a range of activities and participatory learning methods. This engages the learner, but also develops confidence, self-esteem, and skills of critical thinking, communication, cooperation and conflict resolution.
- Current use of the world’s resources is inequitable and unsustainable. As the gap between the rich and the poor widens, poverty continues to deny millions of people around the world their basic human rights. Education is a powerful tool for changing the world because tomorrow’s adults are the children and youth we are educating today.
For teachers interested in promoting global citizenship, the next and most immediate question is how: How can I integrate and teach global citizenship education when I have so many other pressing curriculum requirements to get through with my students? How does Global Citizenship Education relate to English Language Arts or Physical Education? This toolkit seeks to provide information on how global citizenship education can be integrated into many areas of the curriculum, offer some tools and methods by which to do so, and present some illustrative case studies to provide inspiration and guidance.
Education for Global Citizenship is….
- Asking questions and developing critical thinking skills
- Equipping young people with knowledge, skills and values to participate as active citizens
- Acknowledging the complexity of global issues
- Revealing the global as part of everyday life, whether in a small village or a large city
- Understanding how we relate to the environment and to each other as human beings.
Education for Global Citizenship is not…
- Too difficult for young children to understand
- Mostly or all about other places and peoples
- Telling people what to think and do
- Providing simple solutions to complex issues
- An extra subject to cram into a crowded curriculum
- About raising money for charity.