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Teachers need to nurture global citizens

“To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived — that is to have succeeded” — Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century US poet and essayist.

In today’s rapidly globalising world, the larger goal of individuals and organisations should be to think global and leave the world a better place. Throughout history, it’s been the power of new ideas and innovations in products and services which has driven positive change and progress around the world. For instance, the invention of the Internet has dramatically changed the way people communicate globally and has spawned e-commerce portals and mobile apps which have altered human experiences from travel to shopping. 

Path-breaking innovations which make the world a better place are led by people who think critically, out-of-the-box, solve problems and have an international outlook. And the job of nurturing and developing these strategic 21st century skills within children is that of education institutions. 

Education in the contemporary world has moved beyond textbooks, workbooks and even classrooms. The advent of the Internet and social media platforms gives educators and students the freedom to express new ideas. The changing nature of the workplace has also catalysed rapid transformation in the purpose and formats of education. It’s no longer sufficient to educate and train students in technical and subject-specific skills. For success in the new innovations-driven economy, children need to possess problem-solving, decision-making, critical thinking and communication skills, learn to work in teams, collaborate and think globally. 

Many 21st century innovations which have become market disruptors have been devised by inventors who ideated creative solutions to problems. A prime example is Garett Camp, co-founder of the world’s first taxi aggregator Uber Inc, who came up with the idea of an on-demand car service available via a mobile application after he spent $800 to hire a driver to travel with friends. Today Uber is a Silicon Valley unicorn with a worldwide presence. 

Schools can activate the competencies of problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity in children through project and activity-based learning, connecting with peer schools around the world and exposing students to local communities by initiating community service projects. Teachers should encourage students to identify local or international problems, ideate solutions and present them by way of papers, documents etc. Moreover, debates and discussions on global problems and issues should be given a thrust with students provided opportunities to connect and interact with peers from different cultures and countries. In-person and/or online international student exchanges are immersive interventions for a free exchange of ideas and liberal values to enhance cooperation in a world characterised by diversity and pluralism.

A shining example of a teenager who transformed a tragedy into opportunity to fight for the education of girls worldwide is Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Shot and wounded by Taliban terrorists in north-west Pakistan on her way home from school, Malala used her fame and new home — Birmingham (UK) — to conduct a worldwide campaign for the education of girl children. Indeed, Malala is discharging the mission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to “empower children and adults alike to become active participants in the transformation of their societies”. 

When educators mix global perspectives with local values and create GLOCAL learners, they automatically nurture the skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork. Therefore, it’s essential that teachers aid and enable their students to acknowledge that they have a wider responsibility to make their local, national and international communities better places. One of the key roles of educationists and education institutes is to sensitise children and young adults to community, national and global issues and develop a sense of ownership of the different worlds they live in. The ultimate goal of education is to produce caring global citizens who can make the world a better place by utilising their education to solve the pressing problems of humankind.


(Dr. Manjula Pooja Shroff is managing director and CEO of the Ahmedabad-based KALOREX Group)

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