2. BRIGHTS TRAINING PATHWAY TOWARDS THE ESSENTIAL FLUENCIES OF THE 21 ST CENTURY
Global Citizenship Education (GCE) has been developed as a policy oriented concept in and outside Europe during the last years to address global challenges. It is a concept directly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2030 agreed upon and adopted by international organizations (UNDP, UNESCO, European Council) towards a sustainable, democratic, peaceful and just world in the 21st century. UNESCO has put GCE in the core of its education strategy planning calling for member states to commit to the
shift for change and to offer through a reformed education system equal opportunities to all citizens to develop the 21st century skills and competencies necessary to be effective workers and active citizens in the globalized, interconnected and interactive society of the 21st century (Abdi & Shultz, 2008; Davies, 2006; Hicks & Holden, 2007; Marshall, 2011, Schattle, 2008, Truong-White & McLean, 2015). The most cited definition of GCE is that of UNESCO (2014), which we also adopt in this paper: Global Citizenship Education is “a framing paradigm which encapsulates how education can develop the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes learners need to build a more just, peaceful and sustainable world and to thrive as global citizens in the twenty-first century”. An ever-increasing number of member states in Europe and countries worldwide tend to adopt ‘Agenda 2030’ SDGs and to agree to contribute towards their completion by 2030.
Research shows that the global perspective concept may differ in terms of definition and terms used by organizations in different countries (CONCORD, 2018); there is no common definition for GCE (Davies, 2006; Davies, Evans & Reid, 2005; Marshall, 2011, Myers, 2010; Pike, 2008; Reimer & McLean, 2009; Shultz, 2007, Truong-White & McLean, 2015, CONCORD, 2018) and often it is confused with Global Education (as described in the Maastricht Global Education Declaration, 2002) and Citizenship Education. Despite that, a prevailing trend for education legislation reform to address global issues employing GCE methodology is noted in more and more countries worldwide (CONCORD, 2018, Browes, 2017).
Research data show that critical pedagogy practices are required to successfully address global issues in the classroom and have the students be engaged and actively participate in the learning process to develop certain essential skills and fluencies necessary for the 21st century global citizen and that could be achieved through blended training programs (Truong-White & McLean, 2015). BRIGHTS training pathways proposes such a blended training scheme based on the principles of GCE and on the technological benefits of the DS technique. The BRIGHTS project has adopted similar recommendations to model an innovative critical pedagogy training pathway to meet with the challenges and needs of the 21st century global citizen; thus, it is boosting Global Citizenship Education using Digital Storytelling (DS) to address global issues related to GCE in the classroom and to offer teachers a powerful teaching tool for deep learning on GCE topics. This training pathway can contribute to a shift towards change of attitudes in society by promoting citizenship and the common values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination through education. The vision for a more democratic, non-discriminatory, tolerant and just society of the 21st century also includes equal opportunities for all European citizens, especially the young ones and those at risk of marginalization, to have their voice heard freely and be given a step to interact and share experiences and opinions within the global community on the basis of democratic values and peaceful co-existence. The BRIGHTS training pathway empowers and encourages the participation of the non-privileged or those at the risk of marginalization youth.
Despite varied conceptions of GCE, a literature review (Mundy, Manion, Masemann, and Haggerty, 2007) identified six common dispositions to most of the GCE definitions. In Truong-White and McLean (2015) paper we read that these are: “(1) a view of human life as shaped by a history of global interdependence; (2) a commitment to the idea of basic human rights and global social justice; (3) a commitment to the value of cultural
diversity and intercultural understanding; (4) a belief in the efficacy of individual action; (5) a commitment to child-centered pedagogy; and, (6) environmental awareness and commitment to ecological sustainability”. The BRIGHTS online and face to face training pathway modules are addressing teaching subjects related to sustainable development and sustainable ways of living, peace education and human rights, gender equality, social inclusion and cultural diversity, active citizenship and democracy, being completely in line with the core of GCE values.
Another aspect of importance towards the development of the 21st century skills is the dimension of digital literacy of the European citizens. Research has shown that Europeans are digitally short-skilled and that focused and organized training programmes and initiatives have to be launched to include all European citizens, in particular those at risk of marginalization (Ananiadou & Claro, 2009; Vuorikari et al., 2016). The BRIGHTS training pathway’s holistic approach takes into consideration the necessity for the global citizens to develop transversal skills such as learning to learn, decision making and enterpreunership, social, political and cultural skills in order to face the challenges in the social, labour and political environment of the 21st century global society. We have chosen DS to use with GCE as a very direct, powerful, easily accessible, affordable and user friendly audio-visual technique to have one’s voice heard globally. It does not necessarily require expensive equipment or time-consuming hours of instruction to develop. At the presence of a properly skilled and experienced tutor, finding that is in line with the BRIGHTS training pathway too, it is well-documented that it can empower critical thinking (Maier & Fisher, 2006; Benmayor, 2008; Malita & Martin, 2010; Borneman & Gibson, 2011, Psomos & Kordaki, 2015), creativity, open dialogue, collaboration, self-reflection (Benmayor, 2008; Genereux & Thompson, 2008; Malita & Martin, 2010, Psomos & Kordaki, 2015, Truong- White & McLean, 2015), students’ engagement and social responsibility (Meadows, 2003; Barrett, 2006; Hofer & Swan, 2006; Robin, 2008; Di Blas & Paolini, 2012, Psomos & Kordaki, 2015). It can also boost digital literacy in a simple and easy way, appealing to the younger generation and easy to understand for older generations, bridging that way the inter-generation gap in a way. Moreover, it can engage students in deep and meaningful learning by terms of their own current reality and culture of communication, to express their creativity, to open political dialogue with society, to talk about their generation’s problems and their visions of the world of tomorrow, to raise awareness and to motivate others have their voices heard out loud in order to empower the whole society act towards a more sustainable and democratic world.
It is true that during the last years GCE and its inclusion in the national curricula is in the middle of debate. Given the states’ commitments to which they are bound to in order to fulfill the SDGs of the Agenda 2030, more and more countries are reforming their education policies to meet the Agenda’s objectives and goals. Levels and modes of GCE implementation vary between countries in Europe and worldwide. Although benefits and necessity for reformation of national education policies are more than ever acknowledged by governments and policy makers in many countries, national cultures, political status and social fears towards diversity (i.e. towards migrants and foreigners) and phenomena of terrorism and radicalization are challenging the education’s global perspective in a great number of them.
At European level, education reforms tend to include GCE in the curriculum of formal education. Finland is the only member state to have fully and explicitly included GCE in the
national primary school curriculum. Czech Republic and Whales reformed their education legislation some years ago to adopt a more explicit policy to similar issues. There are also countries that have only references to GCE in their national education policies for implementation in schools, yet important ones such as in Austria, Latvia and Portugal, while in countries such as Ireland, France and Italy the reference to the GCE principles is made through other teaching subjects such as citizenship and intercultural education (Tarozzi & Inguaggiato, 2016, CONCORD, 2018). In Italy, in particular, the Ministry of Education, University and Research aiming to ensure a more open, inclusive and innovative school by enhancing the students’ global citizenship skills, has recently launched a Public Call for the implementation of projects covering areas such as alimentary education, food and territory; well-being, correct lifestyles, physical education and sports; environmental education; economic citizenship; respect for diversity and active citizenship. In Croatia teachers are obliged by law to include in the teaching practice Civic Education (CE) curriculum activities or extracurriculum activities to empower citizenship in youth. In Belgium global perspective is integrated in various ways especially in secondary education (referred to differently in each Belgium community education system, as Global Education, Education for Citizenship, World Citizenship Education and local-global perspective accordingly) (BRIGHTS Training Need Analysis, 2017). There are also those cases of countries like England and Spain where political conservatism and social fears for migrants, foreigners, and terrorism acts are becoming barriers that lead to an alarming reduction of attention to GCE interventions in the education system (Tarozzi & Inguaggiato, 2016).
On the other hand there are not enough data available regarding GCE in non-formal and informal education in different countries in Europe and worldwide. Research in 30 European countries revealed interesting facts such as that in many European countries initiatives on GCE values are mainly NGO-led initiatives and EU-funded projected; in few cases NGOs-led programs are carried out in collaboration with local or community authorities. In many cases there are no available data or the non-formal/informal education is not acknowledged in the country. In few cases networks and movements are launching initiatives on GCE topics organizing events and campaigns to raise public awareness (CONCORD, 2018). The BRIGHTS training pathway involves teachers/trainers and youth both from formal and non-formal/informal education, thus contributing with data and know-how to the research gap about GCE in that settings.