For the few Ontario private schools that are certified International Baccalaureate World schools, one of their key identifying attributes is promoting and instilling the concept of “global citizenship” in their students for the benefit of the world and millennials themselves. But what exactly does it mean to be a global citizen and why has it become such an important part of the International Baccalaureate (IB)? I have often mentioned this concept, but today I am dedicating this post to its definition.
Fostering global citizenship is the third priority of the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI). Their bona fide treatise on global citizenship has been reproduced in part here for your convenience:
“The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings.
It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write and count.
Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life. It must cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it. Education must also be relevant in answering the big questions of the day.
Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies. It must give people the understanding, skills and values they need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.”
The IBO and the UWS view the concept of global citizenship as an important educational instrument for students to gain the skills necessary to succeed career-wise in our globalized world of the twenty-first century, as well as a solution for solving global crises by creating compassionate, intelligent, and culturally aware global citizens. An ideal global citizen is someone who:
- is aware of their cultural and national context in the wider world
- respects value and diversity
- wants to find solutions to social injustices
- believes that all children have a right to quality education, or at the least education in general
Aside from the social and personal benefits gleaned from learning to become a global citizen at IB World schools, there are important educational and political benefits as well. Global trade, child labor, air quality, disappearing rainforests, mass extinction, population migration, the sand wars, the shrinking middle class… these are all pressing issues that intellectual, conscientious and civic-minded citizens cannot ignore. Graduates from the prestigious IB Diploma program learn about these complex political topics and their accompanying discourses; they identify underlying connections; they have an unquenchable thirst to learn more and challenge predominate perceptions in order to seek solutions; they understand that their actions do not exist in a vacuum, but have global consequences.
The International Baccalaureate program asks students “to read literature from other countries, to learn languages and to develop their understanding of foreign cultures and world history” to their own personal benefit and the world’s. Now who wouldn’t want their child to experience a school program that does not just educate students, but helps them reach their fullest potential as learners and individuals?