Three years ago, in 2015, 193 countries commuted to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the United Nations. Goal 4 committed to the quality of education for all and was intentionally not limited to foundation knowledge and skills. These included literacy, mathematics, and science. Instead, the goal emphasised learning to live together sustainably, and poised educators as key factors in ensuring that the UN’s SDGs were implemented long-term among current and future citizens.
Goal 4 also inspired the OECD Program for International Student Assessment – also known as PISA – which includes global competence in its metrics. These metrics aim to deliver quality, equality, and effectiveness in education, with PISA running assessments on global educational competence for the first time this year. This begs the question – what does global competence look like? These individuals are capable of thinking critically and openly about local, national, international, and intercultural issues. They are also able to understand different worldviews and perspectives that are not their own, interact with others in a successful and respectful manner, and take responsibility for sustainable and collective wellbeing.
The assessment will be done in two parts, with a cognitive test and background questionnaire. These assess student capacity to critically examine news about global issues, identify outside influences on worldviews, and understand and communicate with intercultural contexts. The ability to develop linguistic and communication skills is also assessed, and the extent to which they hold certain attitudes toward different cultures and backgrounds – including the opportunities they have had to develop global competence. Teachers around the world have expressed some concern regarding the PISA assessments, wondering if placing more demands on students shoulders will dilute their learning experience. Another concern is that learning does not need to be broad, but deep – and that asking students to learn a multitude of things may rob them of the opportunity to pursue depth in studies they are interested in. However, these concerns are addressed by PISA, with the program addressing:
- How globally competent students will be able to utilise their knowledge to ask questions, analyse insights, argue with a purpose, and develop positions regarding global, local, and culturally significant issues. These abilities allow students to combine their knowledge of the world with critical reasoning to form their own opinions, without distancing themselves from the opinion of others.
- How the assessment examines what students understand and appreciate regarding the views of others. These skills highlight how willing and capable students are of considering global problems from a variety of viewpoints – including those that are not their own.
- How students understand and engage with different cultures and cultural perspectives, including how they adapt their behaviour and communications to interact appropriately with individuals from a culture that is not their own.
- How students take on roles as active and responsible members of society and their community. This refers not only to how ready an individual might be to respond to global, local, social, or cultural issues – but also their ability to make informed and reflective actions and have their voice heard. It goes beyond action, with globally competent individuals engaged in improving conditions in their own communities, as well as working toward developing more just, peaceful, and inclusive environments across the globe.
These components are all critically important, and vital competencies for the next generation of world leaders. In a global, increasingly connected world, having students that can establish their own thoughts, as well as consider those of others, is of paramount importance in creating a peaceful and productive society. Schools can provide opportunities for young people to critically examine issues that are significant to their world, as well as the world at large, while also teaching them to utilise digital information and social media responsibly and appropriately.
There have been concerns raised about how reliable it is to measure how readily students can engage with the world through an international test – especially since international tests are rarely easy. However, without quality data, we will never be able to initiate a global dialogue about education, and how we are shaping the students of today to become the leaders of tomorrow.
If you want to learn more about how Education and Technology can contribute to creating better students today – and a better world tomorrow, get in touch with MOQdigital.