FAQ and resources

Learn more about Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and download resources.


Why is the National Commission focusing on GCED?

The National Commission recognises that today’s global challenges are complex and interconnected. GCED aims to give people the knowledge, skills, behaviours, attitudes and values to cooperate with others in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st Century.

The National Commission’s work in this field is guided by the Education 2030 Agenda and Framework for Action, notably Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4 on Education), which calls on countries to :

ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.

It is also a priority for UNESCO internationally, and is one of the strategic areas of UNESCO’s Education Sector programme for the period 2014-2021.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?


In September 2015, the United Nations signed up to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)  and 169 targets.

The 17 goals and 169 targets set out a universal agenda to achieve sustainable development globally, known as Agenda 2030. They bring together the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. They apply to all countries who are UN Member States.

The goals build on the lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals, which focused specifically on developing countries.

The fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4) focuses on education and aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. Target 4.7  captures the transformative aspirations of the new Sustainable Development Agenda. It focuses on the moral purposes of education, asking us all to think about why we are learning. The target also promotes the importance of lifelong learning.  

What is the global indicator framework established to measure progress on Target 4.7?

The global indicator framework seeks to measure the extent to which GCED and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed in national education policies, curricula, teacher education and student assessments.

What is UNESCO’s approach to GCED internationally?

UNESCO believes it is important that GCED be:

  • Holistic: addressing learning content and outcomes, pedagogy and the learning environment in formal, non-formal and informal learning settings 
  • Transformative: enabling learners to transform themselves and society
  • Value based: promoting universally shared values such as non-discrimination, equality, respect and dialogue
  • Part of a larger commitment to support the quality and relevance of education.

What kind of areas are part of GCED?

  • Gender equality
  • Human rights
  • Peace and non-violence
  • Global citizenship
  • Sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles
  • Health education
  • Cultural diversity

How can GCED be taught in the classroom?

GCED can be taught through existing lessons; it is not a standalone subject. It is a framework or lens that can be applied to all subjects.

You do not need to be an expert in global issues to teach your students about global citizenship, it is more important to encourage students to view topics through a global lens and unpack an issue’s interconnectedness.

To find out how to embed GCED in your classroom, see our list of resources.

What competencies are important for GCED?

The Global Citizenship Education Working Group (GCED-WG), a collegium of 90 organisations and experts, identified eight key global citizenship competencies:

  • empathy
  • critical thinking/problem solving
  • ability to communicate and collaborate with others
  • conflict resolution
  • sense and securing of identity
  • shared universal values (human rights, peace, justice, etc)
  • respect for diversity/intercultural understanding
  • recognition of global issues – interconnectedness (environmental, social economic, etc).

How is GCED different to civics education?

Civics education focuses on learners’ civic knowledge – what they know about formal political processes and institutions. Citizenship education focuses how people participate in society and how citizens engage with their communities.

GCED does not aim to teach learners about global institutions such as the United Nations; it aims to equip learners with the competencies to assume active roles in resolving global challenges.


Learn more about Global Citizenship Education (GCED) and download resources.

UNESCO resources



  • The International Development Education Association Scotland is a network of organisations and individuals across Scotland that actively support and promote Development Education and Education for Global Citizenship. Their website offers easy to understand information about global citizenship and GCED.