A Pan-Canadian View on Global Citizenship and Sustainability

By Mark Perry, member, Global Competencies Working Group, CMEC*

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), is looking forward to the arrival of hundreds of education experts, teachers, and policymakers from around the world as they make their way to Ottawa for the UNESCO Week for Peace and Sustainable Development, March 6-10, which will focus specifically on the role of education. 

The event could not come at a better time. There has never been a greater need for global citizenship and education for sustainable development. Recognizing the urgency, the international community specifically created a target for these areas within the Sustainable Development Goal for education (SDG 4).  

By 2030, Target 4.7 is intended to “ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed 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.”

Global citizenship and sustainable development are issues that resonate strongly across Canada. But we also recognize the challenge in measuring these competencies. So given Canada’s commitment and leadership in this area, we are organizing a workshop on our approach to the assessment of global competencies, and more specifically, global citizenship. 

While each in province and territory in Canada has exclusive jurisdiction over its education system, we join together through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), to address a wide range of pan-Canadian and international issues. In particular, we have been focussing on six possible pan-Canadian global competencies:

•    critical thinking and problem solving
•    innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship
•    learning to learn/self-awareness and self-direction
•    collaboration
•    communication
•    global citizenship and sustainability

At the workshop, we will present provincial and territorial work in the area of global competencies and engage in a discussion on defining global competencies and how we might evaluate and assess their acquisition by students.

More specifically, the workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to:

•    learn about provincial and territorial approaches to global competencies; 
•    have an open discussion on the impact of global competencies and their role in shaping the future of education;
•    discuss how to measure these competencies with a number of experts and leaders in the field; and
•    engage in conversation on what a global-competencies measuring tool might look like.

This last area is of particular relevance to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). As the official source of SDG 4 data, the Institute has the tremendous task of working with countries and partners to develop the standards, methodologies, and indicators needed to measure Target 4.7.

Clearly, there is no single approach to defining or assessing global competencies. But during this Week for Peace and Sustainable Development, we can all benefit from the experience of others in charting a course to the ultimate goal of teaching and empowering students to become global citizens. 

*CMEC is an intergovernmental body founded in 1967 by ministers of education in Canada. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education. For more information about CMEC, please visit www.cmec.ca.

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