What Global Education means

On a global level, Global Education (GE) is a heavily contested term with theories, language and definitions around the concept varying greatly by region and country. This is important from an European perspective as GE is a term used differently according the country context. Funders, NGOs and networks prefer the term Development Education (DE).
To try to find a common ground we can describe Global Education as a concept is a creative approach to the way we get educated today which main purpose is to bring change in our society. That is why it tries to address topics that are connected with everyday problems in our society and the lack of understanding such as global justice, human rights, sustainability, peace, intercultural communication. This concept is trying to implement in our education different approaches using methodologies that are empowering, activating, experience-based, not theoretically-based, partnership-based not hierarchy-based, inspiring participation and commitment.

Among all the definitions we can identify some common subject:
We can summarize the principles in 5 main macro areas:

  • Independence and globalization” which main purpose is to promote understanding of the complex network and dependency between the social, economic and political sphere of life.
  • Identity and cultural diversity”. Here is promoted the understanding of different cultures, as well as being able to accept differences in lifestyle caused by the different cultures without finding them disturbing. The knowledge that our behaviour in the society is influenced by our cultural background and that could lead to different habits and way of communication.
  • Social Justice and Human rights” represents the importance of knowledge and understanding the two main values concerning human rights – human dignity and equality and the other rights derived from them. Therefore the understanding of the social and personal impact of inequality and discrimination not only on the different individuals but also on the society as a whole. It is promoting responsibility when it comes to respecting the rights of others and standing up for one’s own rights.
  • Peace building and conflict resolution”. This perspective is based on the understanding of the importance of the peaceful trusting relationships and preventing new conflicts. Its purpose is to educate about the difficulty of peace making and its fragility and to promote and inspire finding better ways to avoid conflicts as vital for the future of our society.
  • Sustainable Futures” – perspective on working today on our future – finding ways to meet our current lifestyle needs and development without harming the environment in a way that we might reduce the chances for future generations to live sufficiently. It promotes understanding the main concept of sustainability and long-term planning, having in mind all the consequences of our actions today.

Global Education in Europe

The term Global Education has been used in English-speaking countries since the 1970s,  through the initiatives of educationalists, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations.
In Central Europe, the term Global Education was first used in the 1990s and in November 2002, the first European-wide global education congress was held in Maastricht, Netherlands (full text https://rm.coe.int/168070e540).

The Maastricht Global Education Declaration states:

– Global Education is Education that opens people’s eyes and minds to the realities of the globalised world and awakens them to bring about a world of greater justice, equity and Human Rights for all.

– Global Education is understood to encompass Development Education, Human Rights Education, Education for Sustainability, Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention and Intercultural Education; being the global dimension of Education for Citizenship.

 The congress set out strategies, policies and perspectives for global education for the entire development goal process, and framework for improvement at the European level until 2012.

In 2015 the third Global Education Congress was launched (full final report https://rm.coe.int/168070ed9b). It defined priorities and political guidance for implementation and recognition of global education and linked the notion of global education to the idea  of global citizenship education launched by UNESCO in 2013 (UNESCO approach  http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/ED/pdf/questions-answers-21jan-EN.pdf).

Since the end of the 90s European countries have started to introduce Global Education and  its principle in national and transnational educational programme, even though we cannot find a common policies and approach on the subject. Some of the European Union Members have found a common ground to work in the field, starting with 6 countries in 2001 was created the Global Education Network Europe (GENE); an European network of ministries, agencies and other national bodies to support and funding  the field of global education.  GENE  includes 14 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Switzerland) leading the provision of global education in Europe, with an annual budgets about  100 million Euro.

Organizations dealing with global education in Europe