Hopgood: empower all teachers to make global citizenship a reality

published 30 January 2015 updated 6 February 2015

Using current events to highlight radicalisation and division, Education International’s President Susan Hopgood wasted no time in calling for greater attention on quality teaching as the answer to enhancing global citizenship education around the world.

At the Second UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education (GCED) in Paris, which sought to find the best ways forward to creating peaceful and sustainable societies beyond 2015, Education International (EI) argued that the future must start with qualified teachers.

“Today, we need global citizenship education more than ever to prevent the horrors of the 20th century from happening again,” said EI President Susan Hopgood, the day after returning from Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust. “It is not enough that people from their early school years learn how political systems work and develop shared understandings and values – such as belief in democracy and human rights - they have to experience the power of agency to develop the capability to act together in order to achieve good.”

Hopgood delivered her remarks on the panel discussion “How to make the teaching and learning related to GCED experiential, action-oriented and transformative? What will take the agenda forward for teachers?” Joining the EI president was Han Choong-hee, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, to provide a country perspective, the learners’ perspective, by Rostom Haouchine of Algeria, and concluding remarks delivered by Aaron Benavot, Director of the UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report.

In light of the events that rocked Paris at the beginning of January, Hopgood highlighted two pillars from Jacques Delors’ ground breaking 1996 report “Learning: The Treasure Within” - Learning to Be, and Learning to Live Together – the pillars which help establish identity, tolerance and cohesiveness. “We believe that the power to engage the world’s youth, to open their eyes to global perspectives,” she said. “Global citizenship education should be about teaching and learning how to practice citizenship globally and nationally – how to prepare for a decent and fulfilling life.”

Focusing on a generation in many parts of Europe and throughout the world that has been left to the fringes and disenfranchised from mainstream society, Hopgood powerfully closed by reminding that “Education has the ability to empower our disconnected communities and help strengthen our societies. Our teachers have an invaluable role to play in spreading and strengthening the values that bring us together, the glue that binds us, no matter our background, beliefs, or gender.”