The International Development Education Association of Scotland (IDEAS), is calling on schools, organisations and individuals to engage with the concept of Global Citizenship Education (GCE) throughout September and beyond to help encourage the use of critical thinking to understand issues such as climate change, refugees and racism.
Emma Gardner, Education Coordinator at Christian Aid Scotland and IDEAS Executive Board member on GCE: “Global Citizenship Education is not about forcing ideas onto pupils, but rather giving them the ability to take information and develop their own opinions, making decisions based on what they have learned. It offers pupils the opportunity to explore the world from inside their classroom, and enrich their lives by discovering the similarities and differences between themselves and people in other communities across the globe.”
IDEAS is championing September as global citizenship month. The month is intended as time for individuals to reflect and consider action that they can take to contribute to a fairer more sustainable future for everyone and celebrate active citizenship efforts that support the idea that our local actions have global impacts. This activity has been supported by organisations across the network including NGOs such as SCIAF, Oxfam and Christian Aid, as well as smaller charities such as the 5 regional Development Education Centres.
Led by Highland One World Development Education Centre, schools across the country have been making ‘Wee Flags for Change’, creating bunting on which they show small changes they plan to make in their own lives to have a big impact, all linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, and sharing videos of their efforts.
Catriona Willis, Global Learning Coordinator at the Highland One World Development Education Centre, says the purpose of the project is to get young people thinking about what matters to them, and to translate these values into small, achievable actions they can take. “Through inviting everyone to share their actions on a ‘wee flag’ via social media and as part of a final installation at Eden Court in Inverness, we hope to be able to connect ‘wee flags’ from global citizens across Scotland and contribute to big change.”
The IDEAS network has a wealth of resources available to make it easy for teachers to use a global citizenship approach in their lessons. From exploring a specific issue such as climate change, to delivering entire subject areas like English or Maths through global learning, there are many opportunities for schools to bring global issues to life right across the curriculum.
Gardner adds that Christian Aid have a new game on climate change: “‘Fumes or Futures’ looks at the causes of climate change and helps pupils to think of some simple actions they could take in their own lives to make a difference. Our partners, and the communities they work with around the world, are seeing the devastating effects of the climate crisis first hand. This is currently being compounded by the Covid-19 crisis, but we can all still take action to create positive change.”
As a wider network, IDEAS is the Scottish partner on an EU-funded project called Bridge 47, which seeks to promote and build support for GCE across Europe and globally. The focus of the project is broader than schools: lifelong learning is a key pillar of Bridge 47’s work, and of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 for Quality Education.
Through IDEAS, Gardner sits on the Bridge 47 steering group: “The value the project brings to us here in Scotland is to support new audiences outside of the education sector to understand the importance of global citizenship and how applying critical thinking to understand where we fit in in the grand scheme of things is a lifelong learning process.”
In Scotland, the project is working with academics to explore the concept of GCE and is also spreading the message of global citizenship and transformative education across wider society through partnerships with NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government. Learning how to be an active global citizen is a process that does not just start and end in the classroom.
Emma Gardner concludes: “The wider importance of understanding our role as global citizens cannot be understated. Now more than ever, we need good Global Citizenship Education in our schools and across society. Not only for us to better navigate the complex world we live in today, but for us to build towards a more inclusive society here in Scotland and a fairer future across our interconnected planet.”