Supporting Global Citizenship Education in New Zealand


Participants at the Global Citizenship Education Conference in Wellington, May 2016.

In 2015, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO granted $50,000 to the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies (NZCGS) as a contribution to a project titled ‘Global Citizenship Education in New Zealand’.

The grant has allowed the centre to both further develop its student conference programme and to explore global citizenship education in other parts of the world.

UNESCO has promoted global citizenship education since the launch of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) in 2012, which made fostering global citizenship one of its three education priorities.

For UNESCO, global citizenship education is about nurturing respect for all, building a sense of belonging to a common humanity and helping learners become responsible and active global citizens. It empowers 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.

The NZCGS’ student conference programme, developed in 2013, has been extended in 2016 to two conferences, one in the existing academic framework and the second through the creative arts. The conferences are both held in Wellington as a central location and have captured a diverse range of students, geographically and socio-economically. The funding allowed for a number of scholarships to cover travel and accommodation costs for eligible students who would not otherwise have been able to attend. The conference concept attracted considerable interest abroad, with a view to future participation. Read more about the conferences here.

The Centre’s Global Citizenship Education Director, Libby Giles, led the international research component of the grant travelling to nine countries in April 2016 – Korea, Japan, China, France, UK, Netherlands, USA, Canada and Costa Rica.

The intention of the trip was to research best practices internationally (in collaboration with the ASPnet) in the implementation of GCED.

“Anecdotal findings from the research trip show a ground swell of interest in GCED and its potential for preparing students for the opportunities and challenges in a globalised, networked world that transcend borders. While there is a good deal of activity among interest groups all over the world, there are common challenges with implementation. In the same way, GCED transcends faculties and learning areas, it is not a unit of learning that can be dropped into existing linear structures,” says Libby.

She continues: “The concepts that shape global citizenship are global interdependence and cultural diversity – global citizens respect human rights, cultural diversity, peace, equality and the environment. Equipped with the values of rights, respect and responsibility, students gain knowledge and understanding of global concerns while developing the global competence, critical thinking and cooperation skills to meet the challenges of a complex world. GCED must take a coordinated approach to enabling and equipping students and teachers alike to acquire values and skills, making connections across learning areas, inside and outside the classroom.

“As a network established for the purpose of introducing initiatives into education, the UNESCO Associated Schools Project network (ASPnet) provides a way forward for GCED. The ASPnet connects some 10,000 schools in over 180 countries. Schools are connected to the network through its headquarters in Paris and it has the potential to deliver GCED in a meaningful way and as a student led movement, in collaboration with partner organisations. Active support from and between member states and schools is vital for GCED. Building a community of active individuals and groups is vital and UNESCO’s ASPnet is a structure with enormous potential to meaningfully embed GCED from early childhood education to secondary school level. I don’t believe that UNESCO can do this alone, it will require collaboration with a number of countries, groups, educators and institutions.

“GCED supports the aspirations of the New Zealand Curriculum and supports states’ responsibilities to provide quality education under the Sustainable Development Goals”.