Global Citizenship Education as a Sustainable Development course: My first class

By Claudia Cassoma, writer, student in special education and teaching and CIVICUS member

Claudia2Considering Sustainable Development as the program of study, the major, perhaps the end goal; let's look at Global Citizenship Education as the required course and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the elective ones.

On 3 October, I attended my first ‘class’ on Global Citizenship Education. It was held at the lavishly elegant Les Atéliers des Tanneurs, in Brussels, and wAas conducted by Bridge 47, a network of experts on the seventh target of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal, quality education. The classroom was filled with minds from different points of the world thirsty for knowledge. I did wish it was a little more culturally diverse; nonetheless, I loved that from the very beginning I felt inspired. From The Leap Manifesto, Maya Menezes opened the meeting with a simple sounding yet highly potent line that left me thinking ‘til the end. In her words, to change everything we need everyone. I held that in the muddle of my mind as I lived through that remarkable experience.

As we continued “unlocking the power of 4.7.” and deciphering the role of “Global Citizenship Education in achieving sustainable development” I was thinking about the most impactful way to deliver my own presentation. Yes! On the very first day of class I already had a presentation due. Being placed under the “changemakers” session was a responsibility I did not take lightly. I went in insisting on delivering nothing less than a true “story of impact”. I had an idea of what I wanted to say; however, as I got to observe the room and listen to all of those brilliant minds, that idea started conflicting with the question I had during my preparations: What exactly is ‘Global Citizenship Education’ and why does it matter to me as educator, humanitarian and as citizen of a country that barely knows the SDGs?

During my research, I came across a number of definitions. For the first part of my question I found that it is a program where ‘students’ go beyond the core standards and learn to ‘forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies’ (UN). Other than read and write they acquire the necessary skills to actively participate in the attainment of sustainable development. Once I grasped that idea, finding the answer for the second part required no effort. I finally understood what it meant to truly be citizen of the world. Getting to a point where the community becomes a priority in values and in life choices, other than eagerness, demands a great deal of knowledge. And, in the end, that was the reason I [we] attended that class. Being a visual learner myself, through the power of storytelling, I decided to take everyone in that room to Lucala, by sharing my experience as the creator and mentor of the Divulo Project. We are all pieces of the puzzle: that was my reminder; that was my way of proposing a change in perspective; that was my way of challenging everyone to listen to Scott Beale, and look at the global south as partners in development and not mere beneficiaries of aid. Finally, I knew that at least a few listened and that those words had some impact when there was interest in continuing the conversation even after the presentation. It was quite a fascinating experience!

I not only made a number of fascinating friends, but created priceless partnerships with wonderful people like my fellow CIVICUS members: Marina, Khurram and Jamil. The opportunity to engage in conversations with inspiring human beings like those I just mentioned, Leila, Shermaine and all of the other attendees, made me feel very hopeful about the future. Some people still believe we are all pieces of the puzzle. They’re aware that to change everything we need everyone. These people give me hope that soon enough we are all going to be graduating in sustainable development with honors. And, that’s a piece of mind.

I can’t barely wait for our second class and for and opportunity to share with my ‘colleagues’ everything I was able to do because of all we learned on our first meeting.