The 4th International Conference on Global Citizenship Education took place from September 3rd to September 4th at Seoul Dragon City Hotel. The conference was co-organized by the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding under the auspices of UNESCO (APCEIU), the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, in partnership with UNESCO. Under the main theme of ‘Reconciliation, Peace and Global Citizenship Education’, the conference explored GCED’s potential for building and maintaining long-lasting peace particularly in post-conflict societies and highlighted the need to promote the use of transformative pedagogy while also systematically mainstreaming GCED in terms of policy, curriculum and teacher training to fully harness its potential.
At this year’s conference, over 700 education policy-makes, teachers, experts from the academia and the private sector, representatives from international and civil society organizations and youth representatives came to participate from 77 countries. Distinguished guests among the participants included Kim Sung Geun, Deputy Minister of School Innovation of the Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea, Kim Joon Hyung, Chancellor of Korea National Diplomatic Academy, Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO, and Nihal Ranasinge, Secretary of the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka.
The International Conference on Global Citizenship Education sets itself apart with its interesting session composition that fosters active participation from the participants. Rather than unilateral presentations made by the speakers, the conference included a wide range of sessions from plenary sessions that offer an overall view of the conference, to various concurrent sessions with panel discussions, case presentations and participatory workshops. Through these sessions, the conference served as a discussion platform that not only emphasizes the importance of GCED itself, but also the connection between reconciliation and GCED, as well as how GCED can make a tangible contribution to the reconciliation process.
Notably, this year’s EIU/GCED Best Practice Awards Ceremony was held during the conference, through which the awardees shared their cases with the other participants, encouraging the practice of GCED.
After the opening ceremony, the first day’s events kicked off with a keynote speech by Prof. Lim Jie-Hyun, a history professor at Sogang University, under the theme of ‘Reconciliation, Peace and Transnational Perspectives on GCED’. Through his speech, Prof. Lim pointed out how collective distortion of memory that stems from nationalism can bring conflict and discord. He then put forward the formation of a global ‘mnemonic solidarity’ that transcends national boundaries as the main agenda for world peace and reconciliation in today’s era.
The first plenary session featured a discussion among several expert panels under the theme of ‘Promoting GCED in the context of a difficult past and process of reconciliation’. This panel discussion highlighted the need for historical settlement and social consensus for reconciliation in order for a post-conflict society to make its way towards true cohesion by examining various cases of the Republic of Korea, Colombia, the Republic of South Africa, Canada and Rwanda.
The second plenary session entitled ‘Realizing GCED’s potential for reconciliation: fundamental questions on learning and transformative pedagogy’, consisted of panel discussions and question and answer with GCED experts from Canada, Oman, Ethiopia and Malaysia. Throughout the session, the panels communicated with the audience on GCED’s capacity to transform education and bring about change on both the individual and the community, while insisting that GCED, as a transformative pedagogy that transforms attitudes and behaviors, should align itself with local communities and international affairs.
At the following ‘GCED Play’, a group of elementary students performed a play around the theme of non-violence within classrooms and reconciliation. The play, as a product of the students’ creative efforts and the assistance of School Life and Culture Division, Korean Ministry of Education and the Foundation for Preventing Youth Violence (FPYV), delivered messages of reconciliation over school violence and adults that teach discrimination to children.
Concurrent session 1, which was the last session of the first day, composed of free discussions on transformation from educators’, learners’ and communities perspectives under the main theme of ‘GCED transformative pedagogy from various perspectives for reconciliation’. At the participatory workshop facilitated by Suseong-gu Office, a local government in the Republic of Korea, for instance, the GCED Maker Clubs dealt with various topics such as the students’ definition of GCED and GCED’s relationship with Korea-Japan relations through a number of formats including skit and gallery walk.
The second day started with a special dialogue between Cho Heeyeon, the Superintendent of Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education and Jun Morohashi, the Head of Executive Office and Regional Programme Coordinator of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education. The Superintendent shared the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s efforts for peace education and the global citizenship he experienced in regards to how an Iranian national under the threat of religious persecution, acquired refugee status with the help of his fellow students and the Office of Education.
The following session entitled ‘Voices of Youth’ was a talk concert where youth speakers shared their experiences of GCED practice with the participants. The speakers, all participants of the UNSECO APCEIU’s 2019 GCED Youth Leadership Workshop left a deep impression upon the other participants through their stories of realizing the need for global citizenship and practicing it in the wake of events such as school closures and Russia-Ukraine crisis.
The second concurrent session included diverse sessions on learning space, historical issues and transformative pedagogy and GCED in the digital age under the theme of ‘innovating GCED’s transformative pedagogy; trends that will bring about reconciliation’. The last concurrent session entitled, ‘systemic approach to mainstream GCED’, featured sessions on the role of policy facilitating GCED to be integrated into the education system, GCED curriculum development and teacher training. Specifically the session on policy provided much insight to the participants on what makes an effective policy by exploring education policies in South America, Southeast Asia and South Africa.
At the closing ceremony, the very last session of the conference, Choi Soo-Hyang, the Director of Division for Peace and Sustainable Development of UNESCO’s Education Sector reflected on the lessons of the International Conference through her closing remarks, expressing her hopes that GCED would evolve as an international education movement with various names and forms in the near future.
This year’s conference was highly credited for providing a basis for the educational community within the international community with the sharing of GCED practices as its medium and serving as a bridge between the developed and the developing countries, thus opening a sustainable platform for international cooperation on GCED.
You can find more detailed information on the Conference at: http://gced.unescoapceiu.org/conference