I will explore the concept of global citizenship as addressed by both, UNESCO 2014 GCE and OXFAM in their documents for teachers. I will mainly focus on the definition and theoretical introduction of both institutions and will reflect “upon the implications of internationalisation for education in general”, especially about how learners interact and engage with “otherness”.
UNESCO´s Global + citizen-ship
“Global Citizenship Education (GCED) aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, and inclusive and secure world.” This is the definition published in Unesco´s main website and the message always seems to be the same: When we come together we can do more. In fact, grounded in a lifelong learning perspective, GCE targets all learners of all ages, as well as modality.
Within the foreword of UNESCO´s publication it is observed: “Although GCE is well recognized as a key dimension of education for dealing with the challenges and opportunities posed by globalisation, consensus about what global citizenship means, and consequently what GCE should promote, is yet to be reached.” (UNESCO, 2014 p. 5)
Terms come and go, and as I am interested in the concept; if I analyse the two words separately, I have an adjective (Global) and a noun (citizenship). “Global” has the meaning of something general: circular, goes around the globe (Earth). Then, in the Executive summary of UNESCO, GCE is defined as: “a framing paradigm which encapsulates how education can develop the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes learners need for securing a world which is more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable.” (UNESCO, 2014 page 9) Therefore, I think about citizenship: citizen + ship, as the condition, character or state of being a citizen. So I could interpret it as the global (general) state of being a citizen. It makes sense as GCE as such is closely related to civic values, skills and identity.
UNESCO´s publication contains one part called “Global citizenship education in practice”. Firstly, under “Curricular approaches” (UNESCO, 2014 p.25) we can obtain information about GCE in different countries. E.g.: Oxfam´s Curriculum for GC has been integrated as a curricular approach in England, Scotland & Wales (UNESCO, 2014 p. 25). Secondly, under “Using information and communication technologies” (UNESCO, 2014 p. 28), we learn that Young Masters Programme on Sustainable Development uses information and communication technologies to expand learning environments. Thirdly, “Sports and arts based approaches” (UNESCO, 2014 p. 30) provides the reader information about international sporting events such as Olympic Values International Programme, which shows that sports - and arts/community- based approaches can create deep and long-lasting lessons in justice, tolerance, diversity and human rights. Fourthly, “Teacher training” (UNESCO, 2014 p. 32) considers international teacher exchange programmes as another method to expose educators to other countries, cultures and societies as well as to new pedagogical methods and competencies.
Oxford Committee for Famine Relief
Having read the two bibliographical sources, one could assume that OXFAM, as it was the pioneer one, has more practical and “hands-on” information than UNESCO, which still tries to come up with a perfect concept of GCE. Specifically, OXFAM is “a guide for schools” which includes some specific definitions but which mostly deals with GC across the curriculum (OXFAM, 2006 p. 12-13). About OXFAM, Byram and Parmenter claim: “Oxfam has since produced comprehensive materials for schools aimed at working towards this definition” (Byram and Parmenter 2015).
Oxfam´s guide does not make reference to the role of parents. Unfortunately, UNICEF does not make reference to them either. Since it “was first published in 1997, Oxfam has worked with educators to review and update” (OXFAM, 2006) their guidance, based mainly on knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes. Their experience is that “embedding global citizenship across all areas of school life results in the greatest impacts and benefits for learners.” (OXFAM, 2006)
To Knight, a definition about internationalisation “needs to be objective enough that it can be used to describe a phenomenon which is in fact, universal, but which has different purposes and outcomes, depending on the actor or stakeholder.” (Knight, year unknown). Besides, for Cambridge and Thompson (2004), “globalist international education” was guaranteed by free market values (p. 161).
The role of language/s
Multilingualism generally implies multiculturalism, as language is culture. Or, languages are cultures. (Byram, 2012) We could say that within an international context of education multilingualism always plays a good value. For Byram, what we need in teaching is a model which represents language and culture competence holistically and shows the relationship between language competence – including language awareness – and intercultural competence, including cultural awareness.