By Chloe Bacon
Chloe Bacon is completing her M.A. in Latin American studies and international education at the George Washington University. She is currently interning at the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile.
It has been a busy two months since I last posted! I have settled into my home away from home and really come to appreciate Santiago. It certainly helps that we finally got some rain – the city was in a major drought which resulted in very low air quality – and we are now moving into spring. UNESCO Santiago has also been buzzing with activity.
As I mentioned in my last post, my primary task has been to help plan a regional workshop on Global Citizenship Education. The event, officially titled the Regional Orientation and Capacity Building Workshop on Global Citizenship Education for Latin America and the Caribbean Region, will take place on September 1-3 here in Santiago, Chile. Although the title is quite a mouthful, it should be a great event. In addition to UNESCO staff from the region, we have invited 12 countries, each of whom are sending three professionals from the Ministry of Education, academia and civil society. The participating countries are: Bolivia, Brazil, Chile (obviously), Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Granada, Guyana, México, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Don’t ask how we picked the countries – it was a long and elaborate process to ensure that no one got upset for being left out.
Now you might be wondering what exactly is Global Citizenship Education. I must admit, before I arrived in Santiago I had heard the term but couldn’t put my finger on its exact meaning. For those of you who might not know – including my parents who kindly smile and nod in confusion when I say “GCED” – here is UNESCO´s definition (which can be found on their website.):
“Global Citizenship Education (GCED) aims to equip learners of all ages with those values, knowledge and skills that are based on and instil respect for human rights, social justice, diversity, gender equality and environmental sustainability and that empower learners to be responsible global citizens. GCED gives learners the competencies and opportunity to realise their rights and obligations to promote a better world and future for all.
Grounded in a lifelong learning perspective, it targets all learners of all ages – children, youth and adults. GCED can be delivered in all modes and venues, including formal, non-formal and informal education. In most countries, the formal education system will be the main mode of delivery of GCED. This will require the integration of GCED in education systems, either as a stand-alone subject, a component of existing programmes and/or the ethos of a learning environment and system.”
Global Citizenship Education, or GCED, has emerged as a priority for the United Nations and UNESCO specifically. I could list all of the declarations and initiatives of which it is a primary component, but I won’t bore you with the details. Take my word for it – GCED is going to play a prominent role in the Post-2015 development agenda.
For this reason, it has been a great learning experience to familiarize myself with the concept of GCED and help plan an event for subject-matter experts from across Latin America and the Caribbean. I can’t wait to meet the participants – a couple of whose publications I’ve read.
In preparation for the workshop and UNESCO´s continuing work in the region, we developed a questionnaire that will help elucidate how GCED is being understood, defined and implemented in the region. It will also help identify challenges, opportunities and lessons learned in respect to GCED at a national and regional level. To develop the questionnaire, we worked with a consultant who is an expert on citizenship education. Once we contracted the consultant I realized that I had already met her at an event in Washington DC – what a delightfully small world! It has been a pleasure working with her to develop and finalize the questionnaire. Best of all, we have had a strong response rate. It is quite satisfying to see the number of respondents on Survey Monkey go up each day. We are hoping that the questionnaire helps us gain important knowledge and insights into GCED in the region.
The next few weeks will be some of the busiest of my internship as we hit the homestretch before the workshop, which starts on September 1st. It is exciting to see the pieces finally coming together. I am lucky to be working with a great team and I am confident that the workshop will be a great success. I will be sure to share how everything went and perhaps some photos after September 3rd. Wish us luck!
If you are interested in learning more about the Orientation and Capacity Building Workshop on Global Citizenship Education for Latin America and the Caribbean please visit the event’s website here.