The roadmap for education through 2030 has been set during the World Education Forum (WEF) in Incheon, Korea. Among the key issues on the table included the significance of a global citizenship education agenda.
The WEF host country, South Korea, presented its successful education model at the Forum. South Korea attributes its economic and social growth to the prioritization of education. South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye during his WEF opening ceremony speech explained why South Korea owes its success to education, highlighting that he considers it the country’s backbone.
Korea Education Development Institute chief Baek Sung-geun echoed the president’s sentiment on the importance of education:
“Education was recognized as one of the most basic and fundamental rights, while being seen as the most proper way to improve one’s social and economic status. Such a view on education led to voluntary participation and enthusiasm of individuals (to educate themselves).”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, speaking at the WEF opening ceremony, said that education is an inalienable birthright that wards off extremism, violence and secures people’s human rights. Ban Ki-moon told attendants:
“The terrorists know this. That is why they keep attacking schools, like in Garissa, Kenya and Peshawar, Pakistan. They target girls with books, like Malala Yousafzai and her friends as well as the girls in Chibok, Nigeria,” he said.
Ban Ki-moon revealed how his own upbringing was imbued with this sense of education as a priority. Studying hard was, back then, children’s only opportunity for success. The UN Secretary General called for a WEF focus on women, minorities and other underserved groups:
“I urge action to focus on girls and women, ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and children living in conflict-affected areas, rural areas and urban slums,”
Both Ban Ki-moon and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, focused in their speeches on the importance of global citizenship and how education can nurture this mindset in young people. Bokova said:
“We have the collective duty to empower every child and youth with the right foundations – knowledge, values and skills – to shape the future as responsible global citizens, building on the successes of the past 15 years,”
A WEF session organized by the Asia-Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding delved deep into the issue of global citizenship education.
Educators, policymakers and officials exchanged ideas on how global citizenship education can be implemented. Some of the insights shared included a student group initiative to develop a safety map of a neighborhood that signposts dangerous places.
Another school initiative focused on how to nurture emotional intelligence and intellectual capacity to make it possible for disabled and ‘ordinary’ students to work together efficiently, Chung Hyun-chae reports for the Korea Times.
The Declaration for the Future of Education that came out of the WEF was well-received by the education community and sets the agenda for countries to offer “inclusive, equitable, quality education and lifelong opportunities for all.” The Incheon Declaration will be activated during the Education 2030 Framework for Action.