Challenges and Strategies to the Mainstream Global Citizenship Education System of India

Challenges and Strategies to the Mainstream Global Citizenship Education System of India

Why do we still read books like Animal Farm, Hard Times, Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein or The Republic? All these classics have different geographical settings and discuss conditions that no longer prevail but yet they are taught in most places today. It is because the themes of power, injustice, pride, ambition, mortality and the like are universal and timeless. Similarly, the main tenets of education are common throughout the globe and GCE tries to bring these qualities to the forefront rather than focusing on the differences alone. Global Citizenship Education (GCE) is an emerging concept that aims to provide learners with the knowledge, skills, and values necessary to become responsible global citizens. The concept recognizes the interconnectedness of our world and promotes understanding and respect for diversity, human rights, and sustainable development. Its goal is to empower learners to take action and contribute to building a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world. The need for GCE arises from the increasing globalisation of our world where information from far off is a click away. Globalisation has brought about unprecedented levels of economic, social, and cultural interdependence manifested by the need for GCE. Global issues such as climate change, poverty, conflict, and inequality plague every nation and require collective action and cooperation among people. GCE seeks to equip learners with the knowledge, skills, and values to navigate this complex and interconnected world successfully. It motivates students to understand the root causes of global challenges and to take action towards their resolution. GCE encompasses a broad range of learning outcomes, including analysis of global issues and systems, skills in critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving, and values such as empathy, respect, and social responsibility. GCE is not a separate subject but rather an approach that can be integrated across the curriculum and in various learning contexts, including formal and non-formal education, community-based learning, and online platforms. It is required for an international understanding, which emerged in the aftermath of World War II as a response to the need for promoting peace, tolerance, and intercultural dialogue. Over the years, the concept has evolved to encompass recent issues and perspectives, including sustainable development, human rights, and social justice. The United Nations has played a significant role in promoting GCE through various initiatives and programs. In 2015, the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a goal on quality education (SDG 4) that emphasises the need for education to promote global citizenship and sustainable development. The UN has also launched the Global Citizenship Education Initiative, which seeks to support member states in implementing GCE in their education systems. It has many benefits for learners, communities, and societies. For learners, this education system promotes the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as empathy, respect for diversity, and a sense of social responsibility. It also enhances learners' ability to communicate effectively across cultures and engage in collaborative problem-solving. GCE can contribute to the formation of responsible and informed citizens who are prepared to participate in democratic processes and contribute to building more just and sustainable societies. For communities, it can contribute to the promotion of intercultural dialogue, social cohesion, and peacebuilding. GCE can also promote sustainable development by raising awareness of the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of sustainability and by encouraging learners to take action towards more sustainable lifestyles and communities.

For societies, it can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs by promoting the development of a more educated, engaged, and responsible citizenry that is prepared to tackle global challenges. GCE can also contribute to the promotion of global peace and security by fostering a culture of dialogue, respect for diversity, and cooperation among nations and peoples.

Global Citizenship Education is a critical component of education in the 21st century. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected and complex, the need for learners to become responsible global citizens has never been greater. GCE provides learners with the knowledge, skills, and values to navigate this complex and interconnected world, understand global challenges and their root causes, and take action towards their resolution. It can contribute to the promotion of sustainable development, social justice, and global peace and security. As such, a global perspective should be integrated into all levels of education and supported by governments, civil society, and international organisations.

Challenges to the System in India

Global Citizenship Education (GCE) is a critical component of education for the 21st century, and its integration into the Indian education system can have a profound impact on learners and society at large. However, mainstreaming GCE in India faces several challenges. Here are some of the key challenges. One of the significant challenges to mainstreaming GCE in India is the limited understanding of what it entails. Many education policymakers, teachers, and learners are not aware of the concept of global citizenship or its relevance to education. This lack of understanding can hinder efforts to integrate GCE into the curriculum. The Indian education system has a highly packed curriculum with the usual count of three languages, science, social studies, physical education, computer and sometimes moral values or philosophy for a 10th-grade student. This leaves little room for children to contemplate topics of global importance. Integrating GCE into the existing curriculum requires significant changes in the content, pedagogy, and assessment methods which will be a daunting task, given the bureaucratic and administrative hurdles involved. Another big barrier for India is its diversity as language can be a challenge to the effective mainstreaming of GCE. While English is the primary medium of instruction in most schools, many learners struggle with the language. It can be a significant barrier to accessing global resources, which are available primarily in English and some European languages. Integrating GCE into the curriculum requires teachers to have a thorough understanding of the concept, the issues it addresses, and the pedagogical approaches required to deliver it effectively. However, most teachers in India receive limited training on GCE, and there are few opportunities for ongoing professional development. Along with this for this system to work there must be a range of resources, including textbooks, teaching materials, and technology, which can be costly to acquire and maintain. Many schools in India, especially those in rural and low-income areas, do not have the resources to invest in GCE. Some stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and policymakers, may resist the integration of new concepts or approaches into the education system. This resistance can be due to cultural or ideological reasons or concerns about the practicality or effectiveness of globalised education. While the Indian government has taken some steps to promote GCE, there is limited support for its mainstreaming in the education system. There are no specific policies or programs to support its integration and resources allocated to education are limited.

Strategies to Encourage GCE

Global Citizenship Education (GCE) is essential for the holistic development of learners and can have a profound impact on society. However, mainstreaming GCE in India requires a multi-pronged approach that involves several strategies. The most critical strategy for mainstreaming GCE is to raise awareness about its importance and relevance. This can be done through campaigns, seminars, workshops, and other awareness-raising activities that target policymakers, educators, learners, parents, and the broader community. Such activities can help in creating a positive attitude towards GCE and its integration into the education system. Students need to know that their thinking should not be limited to their region only because they hold the power to change the world. The curriculum of schools should be revised such that there is space for global narratives, especially in humanities subjects. The inclusion of GCE would require significant changes in content, pedagogy, and assessment methods. Curriculum revision is a critical strategy for mainstreaming GCE, and it involves identifying the relevant themes and concepts of GCE and incorporating them into the curriculum. The revised curriculum should be learner-centred and culturally sensitive. Teachers need to have a thorough understanding of the concept, the issues it addresses, and the pedagogical approaches required to deliver it effectively. Adequate teacher training is a critical strategy for mainstreaming GCE, and it should focus on enhancing the capacity of teachers to deliver GCE in the classroom effectively. The training should be ongoing and should involve both pre-service and in-service teachers. Collaboration and partnerships among various stakeholders are crucial for GCE. This includes collaboration between government agencies, civil society organisations, schools, and other institutions. Partnerships can help in developing appropriate teaching materials, sharing best practices, and mobilising resources for GCE.

Technology-based learning can also prove to be a powerful strategy for mainstreaming GCE, especially in a country like India, where access to quality education is limited in many regions. The use of technology, such as e-learning platforms, mobile apps, and online resources, can help in delivering GCE to a broader audience, especially in remote and low-income areas. The Indian government can play a critical role in mainstreaming GCE by providing policy support, allocating resources, and establishing programs and initiatives to promote it. The government can develop specific policies and programs to support the integration of global education, allocate adequate resources, and establish an institutional mechanism to oversee and monitor the implementation of GCE. The establishment of South Asian University (SAU) under the 14th SAARC Summit of Dhaka in 2005 is a great initiative in this direction. The degree of this institution will be recognised by India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

GCE in India requires a multi-pronged approach that involves raising awareness, curriculum revision, teacher training, collaboration and partnerships, technology-based learning, and government support. These strategies need a concerted effort from various stakeholders, including policymakers, educators, civil society organisations, and the broader community. By mainstreaming GCE, India can equip its learners with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to become responsible and engaged global citizens who can contribute positively to society.