Lifelong learning should play a role in Global Citizenship Education


‘Global citizens’ are more involved in their communities and are aware of the global ties of their actions. Lifelong learning can play a crucial role in Global Citizenship Education to raise awareness of global inequalities, to foster democratic change and to empower citizens worldwide.


“If you can read this, you are luckier than three billion people who cannot read or write. If you have a roof over your head, you are richer than 75% of all people on the planet. If you have money saved on your bank account, you are among the richest 8% in the world,” Katarina Popovic, Secretary-General of ICAE, pointed out.

She spoke at the workshop 'Global Citizenship and education in a developing world' at the European Development Days in Brussels, on 3 June 2015. The workshop was organised by EAEA and DVV International in cooperation with the University of Nottingham Trent and CONCORD.

Taking a global perspective

In regard to the prevailing global inequalities, the speakers of the workshop urged policy makers and civil society to strengthen education, especially adult education and lifelong learning, as a tool to overcome disparities and thereby contribute to global citizenship.

Katarina Popovic and Rilli Lappalainen (CONCORD) demanded immediate actions to intensify implementation processes of Global Citizenship Education in educational systems – both for young people and adults.

"Today, people live in a rapidly changing globalised world that needs to be shaped actively," said Rilli Lappalainen.

Becoming and being a 'global citizen'

Lucie Belikova, student at the University of Nottingham Trent, told about her personal experience of becoming a global citizen:

"I was born and raised in a country, the former Czechoslovakia, where our understanding of the world did not go further than the front door."

She later moved to United Kingdom where she got involved with people from different backgrounds while working in a community centre. This sparked her interest in different cultures, and she started to study Global Studies. Now she is involved in a programme on introducing international students to the traditions of the United Kingdom. She perceives and defines herself as a global citizen.

Obstacles for Global Citizenship Education

Roy Smith (University of Nottingham Trent) gave an in-depth view on the situation of global citizenship education on national level and illustrated this with the example of the UK. He pointed out that national curricula is mostly focused on national citizenship and don't take global identities into account.

"Global Citizenship Education is mentioned rather in the context of improving the employability of participants," stated Mr. Smith.

Non-formal adult education and lifelong learning are often neglected in the discourse on Global Citizenship Education. They can play a crucial role in to raise awareness of global inequalities, to foster democratic change and to empower citizens worldwide.

"To focus only on the education of children and to wait for this ‘enlightened’ generation to grow is not enough. The adults of today need education as well, otherwise - due to war, climate change, and other catastrophes - there will be no world left to change," Ms. Popovic emphasized.

From local to global level

After the inputs of the speakers, all participants had the opportunity to discuss the topic of the workshop in a world café. The participants agreed that global citizenship and Global Citizenship Education should not be a luxury accessible only to privileged groups of society. Truly ‘global citizens’ are more involved in their communities and are aware of the global ties of their actions. In this context, the local and global level of common and individual actions are closely interlinked.

"When people understand that they have a responsibility for their communities at local level, there is a realistic chance that common actions will have an impact on the global level," said one of the participants.

Therefore, civil society organisations, donor organisations and the European institutions are now promoting a paradigm shift in development. Development is not so much about the classic development aid anymore but is defined in a more holistic way. Inequalities and policy incoherence in countries of the global North need to be tackled in a new way.


Download the presentations as a PDF.


Text: Felix Meyer
Photos: Valentina Chanina