YouthINK – Day 4

A daily conference bulletin by the youth reporters

Thursday-Friday March 9-10, 2017

Personal testimonies reiterate relevance of Global Citizenship Education at opening plenary of 3rd GCED Forum

At the opening session of the third UNESCO forum on Global Citizenship Education Opening, Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, highlighted that the challenges created by the 21st century place today’s learners in uncertainty and require a set of special soft skills to adapt to the realities of the time. The education oriented towards these skills is to be based on inclusive and equitable strategies. The opening remarks were followed by a powerful plenary which explored the idea of ‘Leveraging the power of teachers for peace’. The session introduced two inspirational testimonies on the transformational potential of education. The first was by Rafiullah Kakar a young professional from Pakistan who spoke of his sense of guilt in celebrating International Women’s Day as he belongs to a purely patriarchal society built on the exclusion of women.
He highlighted how his life experiences challenged his preconceived notions and argued that there are instruments outside of the formal education systems that shape young people’s minds more powerfully than textbooks.

His sentiments were echoed by the Leslee Udwin, founder of Think Equal in the United States of America who stated that the educational systems are failing as they do not address the complexities of the 21st century. The challenges facing today’s international community such as hate speech, terrorism, extremism, discrimination, rape, domestic violence and many others urge us to ask “What kind of education should be promoted”. 

Highlights from the concurrent sessions

Cross-regional dialogue on GCED: Secondary school students speak out on how to teach GCED


Over the past four months, thousands of youth from 13 countries, across each continent have engaged in a high-stakes online discussion around the core tenents of global citizenship, including the interconnectedness of local and global systems, respect for diversity and ethical engagement across borders. Researched, developed and presented by secondary school students from the participant countries, this session synthesized the collected work of networked classrooms with ASPnet schools at the core, local and global government and non-governmental organisations, indigenous peoples, and frontline communities who have important insight into the complexity of global citizenship.

At the session a presentation and overview of the “International Youth White Paper on Global Citizenship” prepared by the diverse secondary school students. With support and supervision from Centre for Global Education, the Centre for Global Citizenship Education and Research, University of Alberta, and the Global Centre for Pluralism, they published the paper (online and printed version) addressing issues of human rights, imperial instinct, divergence between equality and equity, strength in diversity. Their practical findings and policy recommendations to educators include a shared curriculum, critical thinking (in some countries, for example, Morocco, there is no critical thinking), and last but not least, making some changes to the traditional school structure.

Preparing teacher for global citizenship education in Asia: what works?

The objective of the workshop was to go beyond definitions of a global citizen and instead to focus on how it should be taught. The key was that the focus was not on “What they learn, but how they learn it”. Often traditional learning focuses on with learning about ourselves, but not others. The workshop highlighted the creative pedagogical approach of creating a space were we learn about ourselves through others.

Reflect, react, resist; Teaching divided histories

Through case studies, the workshop highlighted how personal beliefs and political conditions, were either endorsing or resisting the Nazi states anti-Semitic policies. The first lesson was to examine the justification of anti-Semitic views; such as social exclusion, positive affirmation of anti-Semitic views, widespread national identity policies that excluded Jews in a range of platforms. The workshop also highlighted the importance and the role of the social community and public employees (teachers, policemen etc.) in the process of implementing the Nazi policies. It examined why the resistance was not widespread. The duty of the majority in resisting hateful policies towards the minority was very marginalized. The lessons learned from the workshop underlined our collective duties as global citizens in resisting hate rhetoric and learn from the holocaust when dealing with a range of current issues.


Teaching with young people: What do learners expect from GCED?

The youth leading the session started with presenting an advocacy tool kit that they created along with other 50 youth who are part of the youth advocacy group. The tool kit is designed to help educators facilitate the concept of advice and support youth in their advocacy campaigns. They highlighted the importance of working with youth on defining, expectations, how should it be implemented and most importantly how to make it relevant to the public. The youth facilitators of the session mentioned that according to the world we want survey ages between 16-30 chose education as the most pressing issue that we need to be working on globally.  During the workshop attendees got chance to take part in the experiential learning them selves. In groups they analyzed issues they identified in education using the problem tree then practiced drafting messaging. The toolkit and EIU annual best practices guide are available at

Story-telling and experiential learning – A hero’s journey


We live in an interdependent, unequal and ever-changing world. This workshop provided participants with the opportunity to explore and experience the power and potential of experiential learning in educational settings through “A Hero’s journey”. Bobby McCormack, the facilitator of the workshop, called the participants on the adventure to explore creative methodologies and be a part of the experiential learning process. The group work —as simple as lowering down the level of the stick –turned out to be a challenge when there were 10 people in a group. This was an example of the necessity of collaboration between people in the community. “Take responsibility for what is happening in the community” was the key message of the session. We need friends, we need enemies, we need mentors on our journey. They are a part of our unique stories.

Innovative pedagogies for ESD and GCED: Is game based learning the future?


UNESCO MGIEP organized a concurrent session on “Innovative pedagogies for ESD and GCED: Is game based learning the future?” The objective of the workshop was to explore how game based learning can help learners achieve key competencies and skills such as critical inquiry, systems thinking, empathy and compassion. These 21st century skills form the foundation of ESD and GCED. The panel consisting for researchers and educators shared their experiences of using game-based learning in their classes and how it impacted their students understanding of key concepts of ESD and GCED. The session was participatory and engaging and raised awareness about the widely available game based tools which the teachers can easily adopt in their classrooms. The panel also addressed how some of the games can be used in context where technology is not easily accessible. The panel also provided a ready list at the end which was a useful take away for the participants.

Developing a Voice for Peace: Using Drama and the Arts for Explicit Emotional Education and the Prevention of Conflict

What is the link between drama and the arts on the one hand and conflict prevention on the other hand? This workshop organized by Unique Voice explored this question by focusing on how drama and the arts can support the socio-emotional development of children for preventing future conflict. Socio-emotional education through art and drama builds on the key concepts of understanding and diversity. It is an ideal way to enhance the ability of children to express their feelings and communicate better. Drama and the arts for the socio-emotional development of children contribute to building their resilience, give them security and voice, and enable them to express empathy while developing a sense of belonging. Although qualitative research corroborates the benefits of socio-emotional education through drama and the arts, this is yet to be properly integrated in our understanding of education.

Shrinking spaces: Global citizenship education in a cold climate

Organized by seven Oxfam affiliates, the participants in the workshop on “Shrinking spaces: Global citizenship education in a cold climate” discussed the factors that may undermine the efforts of promoting global citizenship education and suggested ways forward. A host of such factors were identified, including limited incentives caused by results-driven education systems, global citizenship education ranking low in curricula and school approaches, a lack of skills among teachers / educators, lack of time, school systems leaving little, if any, room to civil society, teacher / student resistance to new teaching methods, etc. OXFAM and its affiliates from around the world provided a number of suggested methodologies regarding ESD/GCED and prompted participants to reflect on their global replicability. These methodologies include projects to promote media literacy among youth, and fair trade through cooperative student structures. Also, youth ambassador groups to work on the leadership, teamwork, and voice of students, clubs and change initiatives at university level to instill students with a first hand understanding of advocacy and lobbying at local and regional level, and many more. Mr Hamid K Ahmed, Deputy Chair of the Advisory Commission to the Prime Minister of Iraq, discussed how best to use global citizenship education to deal with extremism and dogmatic ways of thinking in post-DAESH areas in his country. In the ensuing debate, participants raised most interested issues related to ensuring language neutrality, gender equality and reconciliation in post-conflict situations.

Holding difficult Conversations

By Nick Taylor – Foundation for Peace


The second part of the morning of the last day of the GCED conference addressed the theme of pedagogies that transform, and an important point to discuss when it comes to peace is the development of socio-emotional competencies and critical thinking. Both characteristics allow critical thinking and prevent the growth of prejudice and violence. The session began with a tribute, made by Nck Taylor chief executive of the TPJB Foundation for Peace, to all victims of terrorism since March 11 is International Day of the victims of extremism and violence. The Foundation for Peace works with methodologies and teacher training approaches to prevent the growth of extremism and violence through three lines: prevention, resolution and response. These bases are developed through individual development and acceptance of the characteristics, attributes and history of each individual, of communication allowing students to dialogue and build arguments and finally awaken the sense of community, contextualizing the environment and allowing each one to see its role Within the group.

The second part of the session involved a practical exercise between the participants to awaken empathy: After showing the film “Preventing violent extremism through education” by Unesco, Nick gave Bil’s photo and asked the participants to discuss the possible story of the character trying to escape Stereotypes due to their appearance. Bill’s story touched everyone, because in the end we found out that he was a vittim of etremism and that at the age of 12 he lost his father, which led him to search for “justice” by joining an extremist group and committing a murder. Bill is an example of how extremism gains strength, when we have situations of violence, discrimination, bullying, poverty and social vulnerability. The Foundation for Peace develops engaging projects such as music concerts, games, social media actions and games to raise students’ awareness. As support for developing initiatives that work in the same way, Nick suggested two UN documents: the Global Citzenship Chart and the UN’s Prevent Violent Extremism Trought Education.

Living libraries: A face-to-face encounter to foster intercultural dialogue


Libraries live. They are alive. They talk and share stories. Today’s simulation of a living library allowed us to be the book, to be read and to convey our stories. Stories that project our experiences, pain, traumas and happiness. Stories that depict our societies, lives and challenges of our environments. Telling stories give voice to the unheard and neglected ones, who are misrepresented and unrepresented.

Organizing living libraries can be accomplished by following 7 steps. After bringing on board similar minded people who are willing to support you, you can move on with planning your living library project: define your goal, target and success criteria. Bringing your “library” to social gathering in public spaces, malls and festivals, for instance. Next step, identify challenges of intercultural dialogue in your region. Among these challenges select “books”, contact them and brief them about the projects. Do not forget to provide materials such as catalogs and booklets with rules to make sure that your participants know what to expect.

Try out a living library in your community and classroom upon your return. Make sure you do not shelf these books and act upon stories instead.

Teaching GCED: Do I Know where to start?

Mr. Hamid Ahmed – Senior Advisor Prime Minister  showed the reality about Iraq’s education pre and pos the Daesh. The important thing that he brings was that prejudice and violence begin with lack of a framework education, on Iraq pre daesh all the history and geography books was banned, in the curriculum contents as weapons and extremism was widely teached.The era pos Daesh was a challenge to the government, because the had to make a emotional approach to sensibilize the population and mostly the child.


After the show case some educator, teacher and youth give some examples of first steps that could be done in classroom, and some reflections if we are going in the right way to implement the GCED.

  • Social media training and media literacy: if the students know how the information and media works is easy to framework the content.
  • Create groups of conversation where the students can show and speak about their cultures and listen for another.
  • The students are not framing the contexts id order to make a real critical thinking about what is talking about. We challenge they with the way we support they to developed critical thinking. We need to actually provide guides to give more background.
  • Create safes spaces to share in class.
  • Make a review on the material that we use in school, make they are reinforcing prejudice and mainstream concepts.

In the end the audience receive all the sweetness of Joan David, the child author that wrote the book about the SDGs. And as he said “We have the courage to be ourselves, not just for the children today but for all the future generations. Everyone can make a difference.”

Interview with Terry Godwalt, Centre for Global Education and Yusuf, Janan and Scarlett, three of the under 18 youth representatives that presented the Youth White Paper on Global Citizenship


Q) Do you think that the youth today feel pressured because the adults are putting this responsibility on them to find solutions to problems that have been created by the latter?

There definitely is some pressure but its also responsibility that needs to be shared by adults and the youth alike. We have an advantage as 21st century youth that we bring in different perspectives and are willing to step up and be involved in the process of finding solutions. What is unfair is that we are not often given opportunities to express ourselves.

Q) Has technology helped narrow the gap by offering more possibilities to voice your opinion? Or do feel the problem still persists?

Technology has definitely helped increase possibilities of collaboration and also given us avenues to voice our opinion. However there is quite a clear difference between doing things virtually and actually physically being present at fora where we are given an equal opportunity.

Q) How do you plan to stay engaged upon your return to your own countries?

It is difficult; we have schools and a lot of work that occupies our time. However we are definitely planning to use social media and digital forms of communication to stay connected and ensure that we continue the dialogue in one form or the other.

Q) What has been your biggest takeaway from the experience?

We think that if we were to summaries it in one sentence we could probably say that “As we learn, we unlearn”

Youth reporters

Amaralina Xavier, Ellena Killyakova, Wala Al Jallad,
Artemis Papathoedorou, Aytaj Pashyeva, Asma Zina Belheddad,
Hajar Idrissi, Phynuch Thong, Stanlisav Khanin, Pamir Ehsas

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