Education for Global Citizenship

3 April, 2014

Reported by
Madeleine Brecher, Fran Butensky, and Joan Lurie Goldberg, ICJW

“Education is vital for fostering global citizenship and building peaceful societies. We need you to help build an enduring culture of peace, have passion – and compassion, put yourselves in the shoes of others, help those in need, value human diversity and the natural world that sustains us, stand resolute for human rights, and work together to give the world the best chance for peace.”
–Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
Ms. Ozioma Egwuonwu , New Future Foundation and Founder of BurnBright International LLC which specializes in transformational coaching and success strategies that help individuals, businesses and communities reach their full potential.
H.E. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the UN
Ms. Vibeke Jensen, Director, UNESCO Liaison Office in NY and Director, Secretariat of the Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative
Mr. Hiro Sakurai, Director, Soka Gakkai International and UN Liaison Office

The program for this NGO-led briefing opened with a video on the global citizen movement that emphasized that every child is born with the same rights.

Ambassador Chowdhury is a Bangladeshi diplomat most noted for his work on development in the poorest nations, global peace and championing the rights of women and children. He is the founder of the Global Movement for the Culture of Peace that seeks to make peace a practical and sustainable reality in the 21st century.

An important pathway to peace is through education: transforming the way children think and act! This is done through focused education: teaching compassion, empathy for the other, values for interconnectedness. During the formative years of childhood, it is necessary to prepare citizens for the world of the future and there are four essential elements:

  1. Individual – the goal here is self-transformation done with the help of parents, teachers, and community;
  2. Inter-generational – a dimension that flows across all ages;
  3. Inclusivity –to prepare a global citizen, everyone must be involved in education
  4. Institutional – More children, especially girls, must attend school. Today, education focuses on uncompromising competition. The key is rather to raise global standards and for NGOs to prepare materials to change minds, to handle the challenges of life in a confident, peaceful, non-confrontational way. The UN can support this essential element.

Ms. Vibeke Jensen stated that:
Education For Global Citizenship is a concept that stresses interconnection in the world we live in.
It empowers us to engage in a global world of peace and sustainability.
It’s core elements are: knowledge, understanding, problem solving skills, decision making and respect for others and the behavior capacity to act in a global world.
There are still 57 million children not attending school; the goal is to get all children in school by 2015.
92% of kids in school means we are not there yet in quality for all in education.
125 million children have actually gone to school for at least four years and still have not learned minimum basic skills; consequently, they turn against schooling and education.
Fostering education for global citizenship relates to quality in education.
There are major deficiencies in teaching. Must focus on training and recruitment to third world countries.
Children come from different backgrounds and the challenge is in showing respect for everyone in the classroom. We must ensure that the process becomes inclusive.
Need to focus on lessons learned, sharing with civil society and integrating into the mainstream of education.
We must make sure that education doesn’t fall off the agenda.

Mr. Hiro Sakurai opened his talk by noting with pleasure the large number of young people and students at this event.

His first illustration of global citizenship was a woman in Japan who had never travelled but found out about a suicide bombing by two girls in the Middle East. She was moved to pray for these girls at her family altar.

Education for global citizenship is a lifelong endeavor that must be carried out by family, community and schools. Women should be leaders in this effort; women, he says, are born leaders who have led many movements for social change and peace. There are many components to global citizenship – peace, gender justice, sustainable development and human rights. The barriers between these silos must be broken down to achieve true global citizenship. At many conferences including Rio+20 his group facilitated meetings between human rights groups, disarmament groups and sustainable development groups to discuss how to educate people to embrace all of these and hence be global citizens.

Many, including John Dewey, have emphasized that we must be rooted in our local communities or will find it impossible to care about distant people.

The 2015 SDGs should include universal education for global citizenship for all children.