The Gyeongiu Action Plan for Education for Global Citizenship was proclaimed in Gyeongiu, Republic of Korea, on 1 June 2016 at the United Nations Department of Public Information-Non-governmental Organization conference. The Plan of Action aims to develop a fully-conscious sense of Global Citizenship. The Plan states Education for global citizenship is an essential strategy to address global challenges as well as to promote gender equality, facilitate the eradication of poverty and hunger, build skills, eliminate corruption, and prevent violence, including violent extremism. It promotes truly sustainable production and consumption, mitigating climate change and its effects, protecting our waters and biodiversity, and preserving indigenous knowledge.
There is a growing, world-wide awareness of the need for ecologically-sound development. There is a need for a better balance between quantity and quality of jobs, between urban and rural employment possibilities. This requires making enlightened choices about the quality of life.
Social progress requires people who are able to analyze a situation critically, who are willing to discuss the options for action which present themselves. Social progress requires creativity and people who are willing to think creatively. Such creativity is a challenge to our educational institutions.
For a vital humanistic, cosmopolitan society to prosper, there must be vital and creative education systems. The appropriate kind of education means the awakening of intelligence, and the development of an integrated life. Only such education can create the new culture needed to be the foundation of social progress.
To bring about this new education, we must take a fresh look at how we are currently educating. Progress always means starting from where we are. Does our education help develop individuals who can analyze a situation or a problem in a critical and logical way?
Does our education help prepare people to make choices for progress rather than just choosing leaders who act for them? Does our education help the flowering of the creative spirit which is within each person?
We live in a world in which all societies are changing quickly. Teachers must help students to analyze the causes and the consequences of these changes. Often the experience of the parents does not prepare them to help their children to understand new situations. Thus, often youth see the world only as chaos and conflict. Youth will often react negatively to situations which they do not understand. This failure to analyze often leads to self-doubt, resentment, guilt, and violence.
The school is the place where students can learn to analyze a situation by looking at living examples of the size and type which they can understand. Thus the teacher can help the students to see relationships within the world society by helping the students to see where the food they eat comes from, how does the food get there, how is the price of food set.
By looking at specific situations, students learn how to analyze a situation, how to gather facts, to do research, to contrast their experience with that of other students, to work in a team, and then to present their findings.
To learn to choose is to learn how to take individual responsibility - the understanding that we are responsible for our own lives. This responsibility means that the choice is ours - to live a joyful and meaningful life.
The individual student can learn to make individual choices which overcome a sense of helplessness or alienation. The student can mature and grow in the knowledge that he is capable of continuous transformation through experience. The ability to make wise choices is necessary to be able to control one's life.
Just as an individual must not try to place the blame for the consequences of his actions upon others, so society must analyze carefully what is its realm of liberty of action. Social progress depends upon a sense of social responsibility, a core value for Global Citizenship.
* Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens