Global Citizenship Education at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate

During the 196th session of UNESCO’ Executive Board, countries gave their support to UNESCO’s work on Global Citizenship Education (GCED), which lies at the heart of the Organization’s effort to develop a culture of peace. Emphasizing that GCED is an important part of the post-2015 development agenda, countries encouraged UNESCO to continue to lead global debates on Global Citizenship Education and reinforce networks of policy-makers, experts and practitioners among its Member States.

The Director-General was invited to strengthen UNESCO’s Global Citizenship Education programmes that will contribute to peaceful and sustainable societies by helping to prevent violent extremism, genocide, and atrocities, and counter all forms of discrimination, as well as the destructive manifestations of racism, xenophobia, religious intolerance and hatred.

Understanding GCED as a multifaceted, human-rights based approach that can be delivered in various ways depending on local needs and contexts, countries underlined the importance of GCED in developing knowledge, skills, - including non-cognitive skills - values and attitudes to equip learners for a better future and to respond to current needs.

Through relevant policies, pedagogical guiding tools and curricula and other activities, UNESCO will continue to facilitate the mainstreaming and implementation of GCED in formal and non-formal education systems, and share good practices, among others, through the UNESCO GCED Clearinghouse hosted by the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU).

From July 2015 onwards, UNESCO is organising regional GCED capacity building workshops, starting with Senegal, Chile and Southern Africa, to support Member States’ efforts to integrate GCED in their education systems.

UNESCO reaffirms its commitment   to   promoting Global   Citizenship   Education as one of the three priorities of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), and will work to mainstream GCED at all levels of education and engage all relevant stakeholders, particularly young people.

GCED at the Community Level

In Cape Town, South Africa, Dean, Andiswa and Juan are three young people turning peaceful communities into spaces for mutual understanding, through dialogue, music and dance. For them, Global Citizenship Education plays a key role in addressing contemporary challenges, and encourages them to take actions in their daily lives and within their communities in a responsible way.

Dean Jates used to look around in despair in his Cape Town community of Bonteheuwel in South Africa. The unemployed 32-year-old would see street corners populated by gangs, vandalized houses, and bored children hanging out with nothing to do.

“I was looking at the moral decay that went down in my area –people vandalizing, not taking pride in their responsibility and I thought to myself I don’t want to fall into that category,” explains Dean. “So I thought let me do something about changing my situation and environment. I needed an outlet to express myself but I also wanted it to be a project of social change.”

The project Dean came up with – My Plek, My Hoek (My Place, My Corner) –, which comes under the umbrella of Activate! – a programme dedicated to young community leaders driving change across South Africa – is a classic example of the way in which global citizenship education can transform lives, offering hope and providing people with new opportunities in addition to having a wider impact on the community in which they live.

Started in 2012, My Plek, My Hoek, takes gang corners and transforms them, turning them into performances spaces for local artists, dancers and musicians. “I selected the corners primarily based on the gang activities happening – so if they were selling drugs or there was gang graffiti or vandalism happening on that corner,” explains Dean. “Then I would try and convert that corner into a safe performance space mostly aimed at younger children.”

It wasn’t always easy but crucially the project has bigger concerns than just promoting artistic performance. This helped Dean to win his community round. “One of the key activities was the conversation between myself and the public,” says Dean. “We talk about issues that affect us, from gangsters to HIV and racism, our current political situation or our local economic system. And we talk openly and freely without bias – without offending people, trying to move towards a conclusion or find a solution towards what we’re currently going through. But we also recognise that we are to blame for what we have created within our own area and that we must try not to repeat that.”

Learn more about Dean, Andiswa and Juan:

Watch the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUylKJqphcg