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Taking it Local: A recap of the UNESCO Global Citizenship Education (GCED) Workshop for Systemic Transformations, 18 to 19 October 2022

Taking it Local: A recap of the UNESCO Global Citizenship Education (GCED) Workshop for Systemic Transformations, 18 to 19 October 2022


Danting Cai

Danting Cai

Trainee, Section for Inclusive Quality Education (IQE),

UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok)

Ningxi Wen

Ningxi Wen

Intern, Section for Inclusive Quality Education (IQE),

UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok)

While Global Citizenship Education (GCED) is recognized as an essential element in building peaceful and sustainable societies, the adoption and the progress of implementation of GCED in education systems in the Asia-Pacific region remain, to date, notably uneven. Only nine countries in Asia and the Pacific can systematically demonstrate the mainstreaming of GCED and ESD in their school systems (UNESCO Bangkok, 2021). According to a GCED needs assessment conducted in 2020, there is still a lack of awareness and insufficient capacity of many education stakeholders to implement and integrate GCED at all levels throughout society (UNESCO Bangkok, 2020).  

To advance and accelerate the achieving of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, Target 7 (SDG 4.7), we will need to adopt more effective and innovative approaches, necessitating a systemic transformation of GCED practices in our education systems. This transformation must include the mobilization of a broad and diverse community of education stakeholders, inviting them to share their inquiries into new ways to promote GCED; to develop and strengthen their collective will and commitments to transform education; and to foster these different stakeholders’ abilities for the creation and harnessing of resources on a collaborative basis, no less on a scale never before achieved.  

Understanding GCED in Asia-Pacific Pacific: a how-to guide for ‘Taking It Local’In response to these challenges and opportunities, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok Office) and the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) jointly developed and co-hosted ‘Taking it Local’, a two-day, online GCED training workshop for systemic transformations, from 18 to 19 October 2022 (hereafter ‘Workshop’). The pilot Workshop was facilitated by Dr Darla K. Deardorff, research scholar and author of the UNESCO-APCEIU joint publication, Understanding GCED in Asia-Pacific:  A How-to Guide for ‘Taking it Local’ (APCEIU, 2020; hereafter ‘Guide’). 

The Workshop aimed to serve as a platform to gather and empower diverse groups of education stakeholders – such as youths and teachers – towards a common purpose: to scale up the integration of GCED in their national education systems, and ultimately to impact societal transformation – starting with GCED in the local context – through joint training.  

Presentation during the event

This Workshop also served as a response to the call for action to transform education from two recent high level education conferences that have propelled GCED into the international spotlight. At the second Asia-Pacific Regional Education Minister’s Conference (APREMC-II), held in Bangkok, in June, education ministers and other stakeholders from the region reaffirmed the critical importance of promoting GCED in curriculum content and teaching pedagogies, so as to better equip learners with the skills and knowledge to be resilient and adaptable in managing twenty-first century challenges, at the same time contributing to social cohesion, peace and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.  

In addition, at the recent Transforming Education Summit (TES), convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as part of the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly, in September, the global education community also adopted commitments to deliver strong and coordinated action that will develop every learner into a global citizen possessing the knowledge, skills, and values to build a peaceful and sustainable world.  

This two-day Workshop featured a diverse group of participants, with profiles ranging from youth leaders to university professors issuing from more than 7 countries in Asia-Pacific. Day 1 of the Workshop hosted 44 participants, with opening remarks presented by Ms Faryal Khan, Programme Specialist for Education of UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok Office), and Dr. Hyun Mook Lim, Director of APCEIU, who both highlighted the importance of contextualizing GCED in local situations to address contemporary challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. Ms Kahn then introduced the Workshop and provided an overview of the current discourse of GCED and the objective of the Workshop itself, the latter namely to mobilize and support diverse GCED practitioners to impact systemic changes, such as developing teacher capacities to mainstream GCED at all levels throughout the society designing Collective Action Plans within the local context of the Asia-Pacific region.  

Ms Maggie Yang, Programme Specialist from APCEIU, presented the Asia-Pacific Regional GCED Network activities and benefits. Participants then experienced firsthand the power of Story Circles – a structured yet flexible methodology for developing key intercultural competencies, including listening for understanding and demonstrating respect for others.  

Event participants

The key activities for Day 2 involved grouping participants according to their respective countries to share their GCED activities and discuss gaps and barriers to systemic transformations in their local contexts. Participants were also engaged in the formulation of Collective Action Plans, which required them to brainstorm and propose country-specific commitments and key actions for systemic transformation of GCED at the local level. 

Overall, the Workshop has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the participants, who in outgoing evaluations characterized their learning experience as ‘informative’, ‘motivating’ and ‘engaging’. Ms Della Leonor, Resident Expert of SEAMEO SEN, described the Story Circles experience as ‘opens doors of learning’, while Ms Chau Luu, Program Officer of SEAMEO RETRAC, Viet Nam, commented that her experience has enabled her to learn that ‘one’s understanding and knowledge can be greatly enriched through hands-on experience and interaction with others.’  

Participants have also shared some of their action steps taken after attending this workshop. Some examples of recurring themes include integrating the Story Circles methodology in local school curriculums; investigating the impact of the Story Circles on students and teachers; engaging more local GCED stakeholders to take a whole-school approach to put GCED into practice; and exploring ways to support capacity building of pre-service and in-service teachers. 

Closing remarks by Ms Khan of UNESCO Bangkok highlighted the role of participants as leaders in their local context, now empowered to take their learning forward and implement their Collective Action Plans for systemic transformations in GCED practices, in turn promoting peace and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Event participants

The workshop was conducted in English. 

GCED network members, officials from member states (e.g. Ministry of Education, National Commissions for UNESCO), teaching professionals, master trainers for teacher training, research institutes and youth networks 

For the event's concept note and agenda, please click here


Presentations: Day 1, Day 2

Meeting records: 

Day 1

Day 2

Selected References 

UNESCO Bangkok and APCEIU (2020). GCED Learning and Assessment: An Analysis of Four Case Studies in Asia; https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000375112

UNESCO Bangkok (3 December 2021). Update on Indicator 4.7.1 and new indicator and disaggregation dimensions; https://bangkok.unesco.org/index.php/content/update-indicator-471-and-new-indicator-and-disaggregation-dimensions

Danting Cai, Trainee, Section for Inclusive Quality Education (IQE), UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok, focuses on the promotion and implementation of global citizenship education and education for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. 

Ningxi Wen, Intern, Section for Inclusive Quality Education (IQE), UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Bangkok, conducts research to facilitate policy dialogue on global citizenship education and education for sustainable development; she also assists in the planning, organization, implementation, reporting, and communications of activities, conferences, and webinars held within the framework of IQE programme activities.