United Nations Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organizations -UN-DPI-NGO Briefing Education for Global Citizenship ~ NGO-led by the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace ~ April 3, 2014.
Education for Global Citizenship: “I am a Global Citizen.”
Report by Ann CRETER, GMCoP
“Education for global citizenship” is vital for fostering the culture of peace. This is an important topic as evidenced by the large (youth) turnout - plus results of the UN My World Global Survey (www.myworld2015.org) taken by 1.5+ million global citizens in 194 countries who voted on what is most important achieve a better world. Across every category of civil society, the top priority is education. (See website to take survey).
The 2012 Global Education First Initiative (UN GEFI) is a major focus for the Secretary-General with these aims: 1) every child in school - especially girls 2) quality learning 3) education for global citizenship to help the UN respond as one human family. Webcast viewers were invited to join interactively by Facebook and Tweeter.
Moderator: Ms. Ozioma Egwuonwu, New Futures Foundation NGO and BurnBright Int’l
Speakers: H.E. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN
Ms. Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO NY Director & Global Education First Initiative Secretariat
Mr. Hiro Sakurai, Soka Gakkai Representative to the UN.
Key points discussed and questions raised:
* Ozionma Egwuonwu opened with the exciting idea of global citizenship awakening our potential to connect and unify in becoming something larger than what we are individually -- to build a better tomorrow. “Education for global citizenship” is not just about what happens in schools but also about the online platforms and ways all stakeholders come together. Certain ideas, visions, perspectives make all the difference for what is possible in the world. Promoting “education for global citizens” is one of the most powerful ideas we can embrace today to create the foundation for the culture of peace. The September, 1999 General Assembly UN Declaration and Programme of Action of a Culture of Peace sets guidelines on how people, governments and the UN can work together towards the common goals of creating the future civilization that is possible. The Programme of Action includes fostering the culture of peace through education and encouraging nation states to include values of peace, human rights and democracy within their education systems. It helped lead to the Secretary General’s September, 2012 five-year Global Education First Initiative which aims to accelerate progress in supplying children around the world with the basic competencies necessary to address the problems of the 21 century. This Briefing is part of our “education for global citizenship” helping us move from thought into action, using education as a conduit to create powerful actions to take in the world.
Short Video: Various definitions were given from people all over the world of what it means to be a global citizen (inter-connectedness, the good of all, one planet - one humanity, beyond national boundaries, basic human rights, what we do makes a difference, the world we envision is the world we will make and it will be beautiful).
* H.E. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury emphasized the importance of childhood as the formative time when global citizen skills of compassion and empathy must be learned to resolve the interconnected challenges of the 21st century. He spoke of four essential elements (the 4 “I’s”) Individual self-transformation, Intergenerational dimension, Inclusivity of all, not just children in school and Institutional measures. The Global Education First Initiative’s first two goals of more children to school (girls) and improving the quality of education, lead to the ultimate objective of global citizenship. The Initiative interfaces closely with the concept of the culture of peace in that both deal with human minds, trying to change every individual into an agent of peace, able to handle life conflicts in a nonviolent way. The UNESCO Constitution says war is created in the minds of men and it is in the minds of men (and women) that we need to construct the defences of peace.
The General Assembly in 1999 adopted by consensus the monumental UN Declaration and Programme of Action on the Culture of Peace Resolution A/RES/53/243 that transcends boundaries. The principle underlying it is that peace cannot be gained by governments alone. It is individuals and communities who can secure lasting peace through transforming attitudes and actions. Peace is the result of positive dynamic, participatory processes linked intrinsically to understanding, democracy, justice and development for all, by which differences are respected, dialogue encouraged and conflicts transformed into cooperation. The core rests on people’s capacity for respect, nonviolence and equality and that these qualities can be developed through little acts. Such ideas need to be built into education systems. He concluded by noting the many rich learning materials developed by NGO’s which he hopes can be gathered by DPI into a compendium of resources to be shared.
* Ms. Vibeke Jensen stated that “global citizenship education” is a concept that articulates the overall purpose of education. It recognizes the relevance of education in resolving social, political, cultural and global issues and its role (beyond knowledge and skills) in promoting attitudes for social transformation and empowering learners to become proactive contributors to the culture of peace. The Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative focuses on 3 priority education areas in order to finish the MDG agenda. Progress has been made but there is still not access to all and quality of education has suffered. Plus, 125 million children have gone to school but still have not learned basics language skills to continue learning and participate in the educational system. Quality education is also about teaching global citizenship education. As the end of the MDG’s nears, with a Post 2015 agenda now being set, education has to be there -- teaching a mindset towards creating peace, inclusiveness and human rights. It is not enough to talk about it. We must be sure global citizenship is practiced as a transformative shift. Good teachers are needed to engage all types of children. UNESCO was created in 1945 to build peace in the minds of men and women and now it is the lead agency in global citizen education. Many excellent manuals are out there to help develop participatory learning. They need to be mainstreamed into the education system.
* Mr. Hiro Sakurai acknowledged all the youth present at the Briefing. He stated that “education for global citizenship” is a dynamic, multi-dimensional concept that combines two powerful elements -- education and global citizenship. It involves not only schools but family, local community and civic engagement. It can help personal and environmental transformation plus is a life-long endeavor. There are many linkages such as the importance of women’s leadership. He stressed its relation to the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace through 8 action areas on a broad set of issues such as education, gender, sustainable development and human rights in a holistic way. It promotes efforts for global goals including peace and disarmament, sustainable development and human rights. It recognizes a wide range of actors such as the important role of teachers, parents, politicians and journalists. Essential elements are: breaking down silos, moving from confrontation to coexistence, transcending divisiveness to solidary and sharing responsibility, plus the importance of rooting ourselves in our local communities as the site of learning. The Global Education First Initiative is indication “education for global citizenship” is gaining interest at the UN. In early March, the Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals briefly mentioned it. But this is not enough. In 1992 education took up one whole chapter of agenda 21 in the Programme of Action at the UN Conference on Environment and Development. Since then education has been treated in a more limited manner at Johannesburg in 2002 and at the Rio +20 Sustainable Development Conference in 2012. “Education for global citizenship” is an embracing, holistic concept that must receive much wider government and civil society participation.
* The question / answer period was engaging with many good questions.
How do I spread word around globe about the youth (under 18) Peace in the Street Global Film Festival global video contest? www.psgff.com
What can be done to ensure the LGBT community has fair access to education in hostile nations? Ambassador Chowdhury stated it is a concern. Making education available to all is a major challenge. UNESCO is helping that process of access.
How do we integrate the trans-Atlantic slave trade in education? Ms. Jensen commented that UNESCO is working on a General History Project of Africa that is being translated into curriculum materials for schools all over the world.
How do we overcome barriers if stakeholders are unwilling to participate? How do we expect teachers to model certain positive behaviors when they are not valued? Ambassador Chowdhury reminded us that any transformation always faces obstacles but that should not dishearten us, citing example of the suffrage movement. To make global citizenship a daily part of life will be challenging. Yet we can be true global citizens by simple acts. It is inside us. If we start there, it will become easier. ** The questioner prefaced her question identifying herself as “a global citizen” which received hearty applause and prompted the Moderator to invite the audience to declare out loud then and there … “I am a Global Citizen.”
Mr Sakuri pointed out the value of networking and belonging to working groups to maximize resources by getting help from colleagues. Ms. Jensen talked of the need to mobilize everyone – governments, parents, NGO’s and civil society in favor of education. We cannot achieve any other development goals without education.
Twitter questions: How do we get information about global citizenship as journalists and social activists? How can we make it happen where we are? Ms. Jensen said it is not just about having knowledge but about using that knowledge to launch ourselves into action in all areas. Ambassador Chowdhury said materials are listed on the program. For more, contact the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace (www.gmcop.org ). Journalists can write more to let people know. Mr. Sakuri remarked that it is connected to everything we do in our daily life, so be mindful. Ms. Egwuonwu said the only way to transform is to change perspective from “Me” to “We.”
What is happening in k-12 to directly involve students in service learning? The Ambassador believes it is necessary to teach students to become confident in finding solutions to challenges in their own personal lives.
What is the role of meditation in transformation? How would the arts be a conduit for social change? Ambassador Chowdhury regrets spirituality and self-tranquility are not build into the education system. Today’s education does not create the values and mindset we need. Mr. Sakuri said the process of meditation helps bring forth goodness so is important. Ms. Jensen cited the value of meditation and the arts as important mediums that schools are not paying enough attention to.
There is a call to eliminate extreme poverty, how about a call to eliminate extreme wealth? Ambassador Chowdhury mentioned the need contain capitalism. Interacting as a global citizen is a solution. Ms. Jensen commented that the whole UN debate is about how we can be more balanced with limited resources.
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Special Thanks to the Global Movement Culture of Peace for sharing this Report with The Light Millennium.