Legacy of global citizenship education


Schools have traditionally prepared people to pass exams, proceed to the next level and graduate into the workplace. We now face the much greater challenge of raising global citizens and promoting respect and responsibility across cultures, countries and regions. Global citizenship is just taking root and changing traditional ways of doing things. We must rethink the purpose of education and prepare students for life, not exams alone.Education for Sustainable Development has been and still is one of Former Minister of Education and Higher Education Bahia Hariri’s priorities for the students of Lebanon.

She has been committed to it and working toward actualizing it for years prior to her position as minister. Back in 2008, Hariri engaged the numerous units at the ministry to work on developing educational materials that go hand in hand with the national curricula. As one of Hariri’s team working on this issue, I witnessed the development of three learning packets for students that integrate topics on sustainable development within their classes and leverage on the curricular subjects at hand. This also entailed conducting training workshops for the teachers and end of year exhibitions to showcase the products of learning how to become sustainable developers.

One of the key outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, was a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development starting in 2005.

The aim of the decade is to promote the integration of Education for Sustainable Development into the educational strategies and action plans. Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future is one of several teachers’ education programs initiated by UNESCO on Educating for a Sustainable Future. There are over 60 million teachers in the world.

Each one is a key agent for bringing about the changes in values and lifestyles we need. For this reason, innovative teacher education is an important part of educating for a sustainable future.

UNESCO has just launched its new publication on Global Citizenship Education titled Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives.

Global citizenship education is one of the strategic areas of work for UNESCO’s Education Program (2014-2017). This is the first pedagogical guidance on GCED produced by UNESCO in an effort to help member states integrate GCED into their formal and nonformal education systems.

The guidance was presented during the World Education Forum 2015 held in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on May 19-22 providing a unique platform for global leaders in education, to agree on a joint position for the education goal and targets in the post-2015 development agenda. The Declaration on Education 2030 agreed at the forum sets out a transformative vision for education in the next 15 years.

The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act. It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write and count.

In a globalizing world, higher education must become a beacon for new forms of global solidarity and global citizenship, said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova at the second United Nations Academic Impact Forum held in Seoul on May 20, 2015. The Forum aimed to strengthen global academic networks and foster global citizenship education in the context of post-2015 goals.

The U.N. secretary-general appealed to students present to join UNAI: “We need your brainpower to energize our world.”

He stated: “We need moral knowledge today and global moral understanding to find peace and achieve the ambitions of sustainable development. Global citizenship can be one of the most important messages for young people.”

During my participation in the 2015 Global Classrooms International High School Model U.N. Conference, held May 14-16, 2015, in New York, I recognized that global citizenship is not an additional subject, it is an ethos.

The conference brings together some 4,000 students and faculty from more than 250 schools in 20 countries to discuss diverse and pressing international issues providing an unparalleled, authentic simulation of the United Nations in a world class setting, and the chance for delegates to work side by side with thousands of students from around the globe.

In an attempt to help students become more conscious of the world around them, understand the problems of today and the solutions for tomorrow and measure the impact they can have on our world, the Lebanese American University has been implementing the Global Classrooms LAU Model United Nations program in Lebanon for the last 10 years.

The breakthrough this year was that LAU, being acknowledged by the United States Association USA as having held since 2005 the most successful Global Classrooms LAU MUN model in the world, was entrusted with the Global Classrooms brand, entailing that the Outreach and Civic Engagement unit in the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Management headed by Dr. Lisa Salem, will assume ownership of both the Global Classrooms International High School Model U.N. conference and the Global Classrooms International Middle School Model U.N. conference, and will organize, as a result, the two events in New York, effective 2015-2016.

The announcement of the agreement was during the opening ceremony of the conference held in the presence of LAU president Dr. Joseph Jabbra, Mr. Marcel Ghanem and many VIPs in international diplomacy, education management and social corporate responsibility. MP Bahia Hariri was the guest of honor of the closing ceremony that took place on the May 16 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The closing ceremony of the conference was a special event where the 10 Lebanese students won 10 awards.

Global Education brings shared values of peace, human rights, respect, cultural diversity and justice to life. It cultivates an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it. It transforms the way people think and act and helps people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies. It gives people the understanding, skills and values they need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.

“Education is the key to bridging the gap between what you are and what you have the potential to become,” said Gordon Brown – the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education.

Rubina Abu Zeinab Chahine is the executive director of the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.