Education International
Education International

Transforming global citizenship from a buzzword into reality

published 2 July 2014 updated 25 July 2014

Being labelled a trend is common with music, clothes, and regrettable hairstyles, but when it comes to education trends can have a greater impact than an embarrassing high school graduation photo.

Not every trend has substance to back it up, to give it longevity, leaving it to fade away when the next best thing arrives.  Right now in education one trend is global citizenship, the idea of it and its touted importance. But getting to the bottom of what it actually means and how it will influence education is a top priority for those who want it to be a part of the UN’s post-2015 education development goal.

“When we talk about global citizenship, it is citizenship at the core,” said Haldis Holst, Deputy General Secretary at Education International (EI.) “Education is not just preparing for the work place. It should be seen as preparing for life.”

Holst, who works on EI’s human and trade union rights, equality, and solidarity programs, was the Chair at a recent conference in Brussels, “Citizens for Global Education, Education for Global Citizenship” that set out to do away with the trend label.

The conference brought together an array of NGOs and global organizations, such as UNESCO, Oxfam International and EI, who want to see global education targets included in the UN’s post-2015 agenda.

From the 24th to the 25th of June, roughly 90 participants worked to develop a clear message on what the future of education should look like, specifically an Education for Global Citizenship (EGC) target. “ The Brussels Proposal: Towards a new direction for Education” was the target they came up with.

The “Brussels Proposal” outlines how “through Education for Global Citizenship, we can find new ways to reach, inspire and engage learners to focus efforts on equitable, peaceful and sustainable social, economic and ecological solutions to interconnected local and global challenges.”

So, what does it mean?

“Global citizenship is a good contrast to traditional learning,” said Holst, adding that it’s time to transform global education from a buzzword into something that translates to the classroom. “It represents the new measurable in education, which can be found in long-term results.”

The long-term results she refers to are things that can be measured, such as democratic participation through election turnout numbers, or a sustainable environment. However, others, such as how people relate culturally on a global scale, are much more difficult to identify.

She says one major challenge when it comes to teaching the idea of global citizenship is trying to find a way to connect the global aspect to the national and local traditions that are currently taught in countries and communities.

By having global citizenship in the post-2015 agenda, those at the conference hope that we will be better equipped to help children become citizens of the world, no matter where they come from. To turn today’s trend into tomorrow’s enduring reality.