Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is one of the strategic areas of UNESCO’s Education Sector programme for the period 2014-2021.
UNESCO’s focus areas are:
- global advocacy and policy dialogue
- the global measurement of progress on GCED and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) (Target 4.7)
- peace and human rights education
- preventing violent extremism through education.
GCED aims to empower learners to assume active roles to face and resolve global challenges and to become proactive contributors to a more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure world.
It helps learners critically look at complex and interconnected global challenges.
GCED is not only taught in classrooms, it also occurs in non-formal education setting such as community education or through NGOs. GCED is for learners of all ages – children, young people and adults alike.
Get inspired by others who are engaged in global citizenship education.
Active Citizenship Aotearoa – Active Citizenship Aotearoa’s mission is to empower, engage and educate young New Zealanders to become active citizens. ACA was founded by a group of university students who believe that a range of tools are available to New Zealand to increase voter turnout amongst youth. Their focus is on civics education.
UN Youth – UN Youth is a non-profit organisation that provides civics education outside the traditional classroom context. Their aim is to inspire global citizens to lead in the spirit of the UN.
ASPnet – The UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) links educational institutions across the world around a common goal: to build the defences of peace in the minds of children and young people. The network is currently focused on SDG Target 4.7 on global citizenship education.
ASPnet operates at both international and national levels. A team at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris oversees the network’s international coordination. At the country level, ASPnet National Coordinators are designated by UNESCO’s National Commissions. Principals, teachers and students lead activities in member schools.
Oxfam New Zealand – Oxfam promotes global citizenship in schools, and that it is best implemented through a whole-school approach.
Oxfam has produced a number of global citizenship guides which includes a Curriculum for Global Citizenship as well as case studies outlining best practices in the classroom, activities that can be adapted for use in many curriculum areas and other resources.
NZ Centre for Global Studies (NZCGS) – NZCGS is a charitable educational trust which supports the promotion and development of global citizenship education in New Zealand and beyond, in keeping with international trends and obligations, the Sustainable Development Goals and the aspirations of the New Zealand Curriculum.
With the help of the National Commission, NZCGS ran two student conferences in 2016 and produced a discussion document ‘Global Citizenship Education in New Zealand’. The discussion documents are based on international and domestic research into best practice on GCED.
Inspiring Stories – Inspiring Stories is a social enterprise operating nationwide with the vision to see every young New Zealander unleash their potential to change the world.
Festival for the Future is their flagship event. The weekend will bring together innovators and influencers from across the country to explore big issues, build skills, share ideas, and hear from inspiring people doing remarkable things to make the world a better place.
The Ākina Foundation – The Ākina Foundation supports people with ideas to drive positive social and environmental change through social enterprise.
UNICEF NZ – The United Nations Children’s Fund is focused on protecting the rights of children all over the world. They bring together governments, donors, humanitarian agencies and children themselves to achieve their goals.
They recently asked a group of rangatahi (young people) to help design a platform for Kiwi youth. It’s a platform that allows youth to discuss issues important to them, it’s anonymous and it’s totally free to use. It’s called U-Report.
You can have your say by signing up to be a U-Reporter. Message ‘JOIN’ to U-Report NZ on Facebook or Twitter and they will register you. Then you can start sharing your whakaaro (ideas) on issues you care about, and help make changes here in New Zealand and globally.
Sustainable Development Goals
Human Rights Commission – The New Zealand Human Rights Commission is committed to ensuring that all New Zealanders know what the Global Goals are, and how they can help realise a freer, fairer, safer, and more just New Zealand.
United Nations Association of New Zealand – UNA NZ promotes and supports the aims and objectives of the United Nations, including the SDGs.
Council for International Development– The Council for International Development (CID) is the national umbrella agency of international development organisations based in Aotearoa New Zealand. The SDGs are one of CID’s work streams.
Civics and citizenship
McGuiness Institute – The McGuinness Institute is a non-partisan think tank working towards a sustainable future for New Zealand. CivicsNZ aims to build social capital and improve empowerment of New Zealand citizens. It has two main work streams:
- closely following the progress of the Constitutional Advisory Panel, researching and reporting on key elements or issues
- beginning preliminary discussions around pursuing a national strategy for civics and citizenship education in schools and in the community, as recommended by the Constitutional Advisory Panel.
FAQs 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:
- 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.
- Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives – This UNESCO resource provides pedagogical guidance to UN member states on global citizenship education. This document outlines an extensive list of GCED topics, learning objectives, and themes organized under three GCED domains—the socio-emotional, cognitive and behavioural.
- The International Youth White Paper on Global Citizenship is a result of work done by over 1300 students from 11 countries, including New Zealand, in partnership with The Centre for Global Education, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, TakingITGlobal, the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Research, and the Global Centre for Pluralism. Students came together to collaborate, through the use of technology, in a Virtual Town Hall to discuss the youths’ vision for Global Citizenship Education. At the Third UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education in Ottawa, Canada, Scarlett Parkes from Auckland Girls’ Grammar School presented the final paper.
- The ABCs of Global Citizenship Education
- Video playlist
- Twitter #GCED | #GlobalCitizenship
- Oxfam has developed a number of guides aimed at teachers in all subjects, and across all age groups. They include practical tools and advice for embedding GCED in the classroom:
- 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.