Building peace in the minds of men and women

What UNESCO does on global citizenship education

UNESCO works by supporting Member States in their efforts to implement GCED. This includes raising awareness on GCED, advocating for its implementation, and developing guidance and capacity-building tools.

UNESCO’s approach to GCED is:

  • Holistic: addressing learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment in formal, non-formal and informal learning settings 
  • Transformative: seeking to enable learners to transform themselves and society
  • Contextualized: adapted to local needs and cultural realities
  • Value based: promoting universally shared values such as non-discrimination, equality, respect and dialogue
  • Set in a larger commitment to promote inclusive, equitable quality education.

Specific areas of work

  • Global measurement of progress on GCED and ESD (Target 4.7)

UNESCO monitors efforts to achieve Target 4.7 and contributes to the measurement of GCED and ESD-related learning outcomes.  

UNESCO’s activities in this area include:

  • Collecting data on global progress via country reports on the Recommendation concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1974)
  • Developing global measurement indicators for GCED and ESD
  • Providing easy access to policy-relevant data, and data sources, that support the monitoring of Target 4.7.
  • Producing thematic studies, reports and trend analysis
  • Global advocacy and policy dialogue 

Every two years UNESCO organizes a Global Forum on GCED, to address key issues of relevance to GCED policy and practice. The last forum was held in Ottawa in March 2017.

UNESCO also organizes policy and advocacy events on GCED in Headquarters and around the world in order to engage decision-makers, leading experts and practitioners in a dialogue on effective strategies and practices to implement GCED.
For more information on previous editions of the GCED Fora:

  • Technical support and capacity building for country implementation

UNESCO develops guidance materials on key educational issues of relevance to the promotion of GCED. On this basis, it organizes capacity building workshops, at national and regional levels, for education professionals such as teachers, teacher trainers, curriculum developers and education policy-makers.

In this context, UNESCO also elaborated technical guidance on how to develop textbooks free from stereotypes and or prejudice.

More recently, UNESCO’s capacity building work specifically focuses on the Prevention of violent extremism through education.

Special themes

UNESCO highlights several special themes under the GCED umbrella.

  • Preventing violent extremism through education (PVE-E)

Violent extremism is on the rise and a major obstacle to global peace and sustainability. In accordance with the United Nations Secretary General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism (December 2016), UNESCO supports countries seeking to promote positive and inclusive educational reforms aimed at youth that counter and build resistance to violent extremist messaging while fostering a positive sense of identity.

UNESCO’s activities in this area notably include:

More on Education as a tool to prevent violent extremism

  • Education about the Holocaust and other genocide

GCED not only looks forward but draws on lessons from the past. For this reason UNESCO uses the terrible lessons learned concerning the Holocaust and other genocides to develop programmes that strengthen a culture of prevention and foster understanding of the causes and consequences of such events.

Education about the Holocaust and genocide fosters knowledge, skills and behaviours that help learners become critical thinkers, responsible and active global citizens who value human dignity and respect for all, reject antisemitism, racism and other forms of prejudice that can lead to group-targeted violence and genocide.

More on Education about the Holocaust and genocide

  • Languages in education

A global citizen values cultural diversity and the right to speak one’s mother tongue. Local languages bring entire cultures, values and traditional knowledge with them and help to build interconnectedness. It is also through the mastery of the first or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired most effectively. UNESCO promotes mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual approaches in education when appropriate and as a means to promote inclusion in, and through, quality education.

UNESCO disseminates these messages each year by celebrating International Mother Language Day

More on Languages in education

  • Promoting the rule of law through global citizenship education

The UNESCO/UNODC partnership on “Global Citizenship Education for the Rule of Law” aims to strengthen the capacities of education policy-makers, educators, teacher trainers and curriculum developers to promote the rule of law through education. More specifically, the partnership supports  professionals in education design and implement educational interventions that equip learners with the knowledge, attitudes and skills to constructively and responsibly engage in society, uphold the principle of justice and help build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

More on Promoting the rule of law through global citizenship education