Raising Awareness of Global Education Amongst Young People

 

Akachukwu Okafor, Global Education Magazine Okafor Akachukwu

International Development Consultant at Nonprofit Organization Management in Nigeria.

e-mail:akachukwu_okafor@yahoo.com

web: www.akachukwu.tumblr.com

Abstract: Global education is a transformative learning process that is very essential in creating and promoting mutual understanding across racial, cultural, religious, political and geographical divides. Young people as agents of change have a lot of responsibility in fostering global understanding and peace through creating awareness. This paper aims to provide effective ways of raising awareness of global education amongst young people. Quantitative, and survey research methods were applied in analysing the statistical data of young people that are unemployed, children out of school and survey methods was used to determine which programs and initiatives of promoting global awareness works. Direct observation was applied in observing the changes that took place amongst young people that are involving in raising awareness on global education. Youth programs such as Model United Nations programs, debates, fellowships, cultural exchange programs, trainings and the use of technology – social media are very effective ways of creating awareness on global education. Over two-third of young people that are participate in these global education programs remain active in raising more awareness in their communities of the benefit of global education. It also found out that not many young people in rural and urban slums benefit from these programs. It is important for governments, civil society, development organizations, and the private sector to scale up efforts in raising awareness on global education. More importantly see that many of the unreached young people in rural and urban slums are provided with same opportunities as their peers.

Keywords: education, global education, youth, young people, awareness, fellowship, learning, exchange programs, school.

A child is a person who is going to carry on what you have started. He is going to sit where you’re sitting, and when you’re gone; attend to those things, which are important. You may adopt all the policies you please, but how they are carried out depends on him. He will assume control of your Cities, States, and Nation. He is going to move in and take over your churches, schools, universities and corporations. The fate of humanity is in his hands.”
Abraham Lincoln

Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today”
Malcolm X

In today’s ever changing times and events that have consistently changed our views, relationships, and affiliations along the lines of race, culture, and religion, either positively or negatively, we are only left with one choice of building bridges across all divides through global education. I believe that it is global education that Malcolm X was referring to that every child – person needs for a positive fate for humanity.

Maastricht Global Education Declaration1 defines Global Education as:

education that opens people’s eyes and minds to the realities of the globalized world and awakens them to bring about a world of greater justice, equity, and human rights for all.2

It further highlights Development Education, Human Rights Education, Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention, Education for Sustainability, Intercultural Education as the components of global education. Today these components have increased to include Citizens Education, Values Education, Interfaith and Interreligious Education if not more. Long after the Maastricht Congress, the question remains how far has this framework helped to?

envision a common future with better life conditions for all, connecting local and global perspectives”

for Europe and the rest of the world, challenges, what has worked what has not (experiences) and what better ways (ideas) of achieving global education especially amongst students (young people)?

It is important to note that while developed countries have long developed frameworks and strategies for global education, developing countries especially are still very much finding solutions to providing basic education and skills that is required to discuss what global education is. Recent increases in global youth population, unemployment, political instability, terrorism have impacted negatively on the gains attained through global education. 2012 UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report3 shows that 61 million children are out of school, 32 million of those in school repeat grades, while 31 million of grade repeaters drop out of school. It further indicates that over 200 million youths needs a second chance to learn skills for work. It is equally a global educational challenge especially in developing countries that children in schools get little quality education. More so a 2012 International Labour Organization (ILO) publication4 indicates that over 74.6 million young people are unemployed. In the face of all these challenges we must continue to work to reverse the tide, evolve new strategies of raising awareness that helps in fostering global education and consolidate on the gains made so far made.

Model United Nations5 (MUN) programs can be said to be an effective way of engaging young people and providing global education that really works. Many young people around the world benefit hugely from the experience and education that these programs provide. Many of these young people are today global citizens; building bridges across cultures, faith, and civilizations other than theirs. A case in study is my experience of MUN programs as a university undergraduate, participating as a delegate, conference director, head of university delegation and conference staff and working after graduation with Model United Nations organizations locally and globally to organize these conferences. In each case two-third of conference delegates do continue after their participation to raise awareness and assist in the work of other programs that promote the ideals of MUN programs. We have always received consistent feedback of various skills of effective communication, peace and conflict resolution, negotiation, diplomacy, leadership, critical thinking, strategic planning, mutual understanding, tolerance, team building, consensus building, community service, volunteerism, and knowledge of development issues gained as a result of their participation. Many universities, organizations, countries around the world run and support MUN programs. It is important to note that only a few MUN programs are held in Nigeria, West Africa and Africa due to lack of support from government, funding and management constraints.

Model United Nations, Global Education Magazine

 

Model United Nations

In June 2012, Life-Link Friendship Schools Ghana6 organized its first MUN conference for tertiary institutions with the support of the United Nations Office Ghana and Ghana’s foreign affairs ministry. All of the university students that participated were full of stories of how the conference transformed their lives and changed their world view. It plans to expand the program to other West African countries and also host a West Africa wide MUN conference Life-Link Friendship Schools Ghana also pioneered a reality TV program called ‘The Delegate’7 that aims to promote awareness and understanding of global issues through debates simulated after the UN Security Council. The show has in no small measure increased understanding of global issues among its viewership especially amongst young people who in turn promotes global education. Many of the show participants now motivated have taken up projects in their schools and communities to raise awareness, share their experiences and knowledge with other young people.

Youth cultural exchange programs, academic fellowships, internships and trainings programs for youth are also ways of promoting global education. These programs are structured for the promotion of academic, scientific, technological cultural and arts exchanges for people from very diverse cultural, religious, racial, socio-economic backgrounds. These programs provide invaluable ways of raising awareness on global education. While some of these programs can be said to be effective in raising awareness on global education, however records shows that most of these programs focus more on literate youths in urban rich communities, leaving many illiterate youths especially in rural and urban slums with little or no access to such programs. This problem further creates the lack of mutual understanding and cooperation, participation, tolerance, citizenship, that global education seeks to create. It is important that organizations focus some of their resources in developing programs that will benefit poor illiterate youth population in rural and urban slums.

An example of an organization that has committed its resources to the service of the urban poor is Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN). Paradigm Initiative Nigeria is an organization in Lagos, Nigeria that is located in the urban slum of Ajegunle and works to equip young people with skills, and knowledge that they need to be global citizens, they do this through various skills training, lectures, exchange programs, and community service work. I have volunteered my time to train some of their youths on social impact, time line, and life skills. because of the need for it – to help build the bridge of mutual understanding, cooperation, tolerance citizenship between these youths and other young people from the rich communities The outcome for them has being life changing leading to personal awareness and understanding of the world around them.

After the trainings we created an online forum on Facebook where we continued to discuss issues and share knowledge. This is possible due to increasing access to mobile phones mobile technology and social media network among young people in Nigeria and other developing countries. This increased access to mobile technology – mobile messaging services, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube …has a great potential to serve as an effective medium for raising more awareness on global education among young people. We should leverage the wide access and reach of this technology, which in my view should be the next focus of our awareness strategy.

Governments, civil society, religious and cultural organizations, development organizations should develop global education framework for their countries and equally develop national action plan/strategies for its implementation especially in schools, local communities, religious and, cultural centres. It should also provide support to the work and activities of groups that are committed raising awareness on global education. Some of these activities include Global Education Week, workshops and seminars, Model United Nations programs, training for young people through fellowship, internships, cultural exchange programs and more.

As we look into the future for a peaceful world we must continue against all odds to see that we promote global education which is the education and learning that proves to promote peace that is needed for growth and sustainable development that we look forward to.

References

Global Education Congress, (2002). The Maastricht Global Education Declaration -European Strategy Framework for Improving and Increasing Global Education to the Year 2015. Chapter 1. Retrieved in http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/nscentre/GE/GE-Guidelines/GEgs-chap1.pdf

 

NOTES

1 The Maastricht Global Education Declaration is an outcome document of Europe wide Global Education Congress held in Maastricht the Netherlands, from 15-17 November 2002. The declaration provides a European Strategy Framework for improving and increasing Global Education to the year 2015.

2 Chapter 1 – Maastricht Global Education Declaration European Strategy Framework for improving and increasing Global Education in Europe to the year 2015.

3The UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report is UNESCO’s annual report on the progress of education around the world especially Millennium Development Goals.

4 The ILO report: ‘World of Work Report 2012 Better jobs for a better economy’ published by ILO’s International Institute of Labour Studies reports on global work, and unemployment trends

5 Model United Nations is an academic simulation of the United Nations General Assembly, its organs and organizations especially by young university students in conferences. MUN started in the United States of America in 1946 and have spread to all parts of the world. In 2009 the United Nations Department of Public Information organized its first Global Model United Nations Conference.

6 Life-Link Friendship Schools Ghana is a nonprofit organization in Ghana that works in line with the objectives of Life-Link International. It is the only organization in West Africa that is committed to the development of global education through Model United Nations Programs.

7The Delegate shows on Ghana National Television TV5

 

This article was published on January 30th: School Day of Non-violence and Peace in Global Education Magazine

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