16 February 2018

UNESCO and Global Citizenship Education

One of the indicators of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, is the extent to which global citizenship education has been mainstreamed at all levels in national education policies, curricula, teacher education and student assessment. In this second part of a two-part series on global citizenship education, the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) spoke with Lily Gray of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Liaison Office at United Nations Headquarters in New York on UNESCO work in global citizenship education and its relation to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

16 February 2018 – At its core, “global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to the global community and a common sense of humanity”—so Lily Gray of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Liaison Office at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Education for global citizenship helps foster the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behaviour that empower individuals to make informed decisions and take action to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Numerous countries, according to Ms. Gray, have already successfully integrated global citizenship and core competences related to global citizenship into their national education systems and curricula. For example, the Republic of Korea, where the national curriculum emphasizes the importance of being a global citizen equipped with tolerance, empathy and cultural literacy. In Indonesia, one finds global citizenship being promoted in relation to such behavior as honesy, responsibility and caring, including tolerance and mutual understanding. Another important aspect of global citizenship education can be found exemplified in a legal requirement put in place by the Republic of Malta in 2015: a legal requirement for schools to conduct education aimed at preventing youth from being drawn into violent extremism.

Ms. Gray noted that UNESCO contributes to measuring progress towards Target 4.7 of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on Education, which focuses on global citizenship education and education for sustainable development. While UNESCO is involved in an array of projects that engage policymakers and experts in dialogue on effective strategies and practices for implementing global citizenship education, she highlighted a new online platform for reports, news, analyses and publications providing evidence and links to data sets that measure such progress. UNESCO has also reached out to teachers by developing guides to help them create a classroom climate that is conducive to respectful dialogue and critical thinking. In the past few years, the focus of these teaching and learning materials has been on the prevention of violent extremism. All this is informed by a focus on global citizenship as emphasizing, as Ms. Gray put it, the vital significance of “political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global”.

Read the first interview of the two-part series on global citizenship education here