How do we make ‘real’ global citizens? That’s the question posed by this year’s Global Education and Skills Forum and one at the heart of the challenge faced by teachers worldwide.
Global citizenship is not a new concept, but it has taken on a greater importance in recent years.
Once reserved for those preparing for roles in politics or economics, global awareness is now seen as something we are all responsible for. As the world becomes ever-more interconnected through trade, technology and the challenge of global warming, the need to educate students in how to become active global citizens is pressing.
Young people require an education that cultivates in them the knowledge, skills and values needed to be responsible global citizens.
But that begs the question: which values are needed?
We surveyed the delegates attending this year’s Forum on what they thought were the values that make a global citizens.
Their answers paint a fascinating picture of which values are seen as key global traits and which we see as less important.
At the top of the list is value and respect for differences with 84% of respondents seeing this as a value that makes a global citizen.
This came slightly ahead of the belief that all people are equal, and no one is more superior or inferior than anyone else. 80% of those surveyed saw this as a key value.
Other important values were empathy towards others (76%), curiosity and the desire to learn more about the world (75%) and the belief that people can make a difference (75%).
Commitment to social justice and equity, and concern for the environment and commitment to sustainable development both scored highly with 73%.
At the other end of the scale, values which were seen as less important for the global citizen were a sense of identity and self-esteem (50%) and belonging to many communities (47%).
It is interesting to note that the practical aspect of being a global citizen – the ability to communicate clearly with others, regardless of language was only a middle-ranking priority at 65%.
This suggests that the global citizen is seen as one with a particular mindset rather than a defined skillset. The ability to speak the same language as others is seen as much less important than the willingness to see the other person’s point of view.
In fact, difference, not commonality is what is celebrated and marked out as important. A belief that all are equal and all have the same rights and responsibilities is the defining thought, with the only requirement of others being a similar openness and respect for difference.
That is surely something everyone would want students to aspire to.
The Global Education and Skills Forum will take place on 18th and 19th March 2017 in Dubai, UAE, with the theme of “How do we make ‘real’ global citizens?” Find out more here.