Integrating Global Citizenship in Today's Curricula

Manila Bulletin, October 15, 2006 | Go to article overview
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Integrating Global Citizenship in Today's Curricula


Byline: Dr. ConsueloC. Canlas Callang VP Academics and Research, St. Michael's College of Laguna

TEACHING global citizenship today is a more serious concern than it must have been some decades ago. Schools all over the world have started to come to terms with the fact that each individual has a responsibility towards others - something that only a structured curriculum as found in schools can hope to teach those concerned. Students are made cognizant today of the interconnectivity of lives - a very vital concept to understand for all citizens of the world. The Internet and the World Wide Web have made it easy for us to touch base with almost all parts of the world. Thus it is imperative that students are taught to think of one world and our common humanity. It was not very long ago when lessons in Civics emphasized the responsibility to love God and one's own country and to respect the patrimony of the land. Then, the emphasis was on the Motherland. Today, it is Mother Earth - everybody's Mother Earth. Mass media have made it easier for all of us to relate to tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami in Indonesia, earthquakes in Pakistan or Kashmir, famine in Ethiopia and the killer earthquakes and landslides that we have experienced recently. Teaching the subject is helped by mass media, but the responsibility mainly remains with teachers at all levels.

Considering that even our seas are interconnected, oil spills in any part of the world can affect fish and marine life, trade and commerce elsewhere. It is imperative that the teaching of environmental protection, as well as the teaching of peace promotion, grassroots activism, intercultural and multi-cultural understanding be paid the necessary attention it deserves. Today, more than ever, every teacher must be an agent of peace, of multi-cultural understanding, of appreciation of others aside from being a facilitator of learning of the various subjects to be learned in the classroom. As well, students should be taught about gender sensitivity and politically acceptable terms.

Various agencies are working to make this a reality. Through international dialogues and conferences, educators, researchers, school administrators and scholars discuss and learn together what needs to be done so as to effectively teach global citizenship to students worldwide. Last July 7-12, 2006, the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction convened an international group at the historic Manila Hotel. Educators, NGOs and government representatives put ideas together, learning from one another's experiences. The delegates debated issues of import to Curriculum and Instruction in developing the global citizen. Discussions sometimes got a little touchy on such sensitive issues as Religion and even the meaning of true peace. The objectives of fostering cultural understanding through inter-cultural communication among educators and teachers on a worldwide scale as well as encouraging transnational collaborative efforts at curriculum research and development were obviously achieved as evidenced by the various group resolutions read on the last day of activities. In terms of promoting critical understanding of social problems from a global perspective, the various questions raised during the open forums created the impression that indeed there are social problems of such magnitude that individual and concerted efforts in classrooms and government boardrooms are needed.

It is to the credit of educators that such goals as ensuring that education contributes to peace promotion and equity as well as to the universal realization of human rights is becoming actualized. Well, almost. This can truly be achieved only if schools will develop in the learners the required comprehensive sense of respect for others; for one's self and the environment.

How may instruction help actualize the above goals to benefit every learner? The answer is in the hands of those who teach.

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