Global Citizen Education: an ambitious challenge for the EU!

For many years, the Global Citizenship Education (GCE) has been recognized at European level as a powerful and fundamental educational tool to face the current global challenges and to favor the achievement of the 2030 Agenda development objectives.

In the UNESCO words “Global Citizenship Education aims to empower learners to engage and assume active roles, both locally and globally, to face and resolve global challenges and ultimately to become proactive contributors to a more just, peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, secure and sustainable world” (2014). Nevertheless, nowadays institutions and governments, both at national and European level, struggle to allocate adequate resources in this educational field.

On 8 March 2018, CONCORD launched “Global Citizenship Education in Europe: How much do we care?”, an accurate and detailed report that reveals how the funds dedicated to G.C.E. in EU member States (plus Norway) between 2011 and 2015 have remained substantially the same.

We are facing a paradox: on one hand, investments in GCE activities are in a phase of stagnation (little has changed since 2010, as the report analysis remark); instead, on the other hand, we live in a global context profoundly changed in recent years, characterized by new challenges (migration, raising wave of populism, extremist parties, etc) that could be faced and struggled with efficient and powerful tools, as GCE really is.

This study takes into account both individual State’s data and aggregate data. Analysis show that there is an increase in funding between the first reporting year (2011) and 2015 in some of the countries (i.e. Germany +108%, Latvia +285%, Denmark +77%, Slovakia +30%, Luxemburg +1%, etc.) and a reduction in other countries (i.e. Portugal -0,17%, Sweden -2%, Belgium -11%).

However, despite these few exceptions of increases and decreases, the overall picture in funding is one of stagnation, with no significant changes with regard to the amounts allocated for GCE.

The report also focuses on the main factors that affect funding, which mainly concern the relationship between NGOs and governments and the state of civil society.

NGOs are the main recipients of public investments funding and so they have a central role in GCE: “NGOs are familiar with the language, the priorities, and the international frameworks of the two main governmental actors in the field – (1) ministries and agencies related to international development and foreign affairs and (2) ministries and agencies related to the education sector – operate with and within. Furthermore, NGOs are part of various European and international networks, and have access to significant knowledge reservoirs and expertise in the area. With a detailed knowledge and understanding of the local and national contexts, they have the capacity to deal with the national vs universal tensions characteristic to the field. This gives NGOs the authority to navigate the relationship with national stakeholders and stimulate the development and building of long-term partnership structures” (Global Citizenship Education in Europe: How much do we care?).

So, first of all, there is the need of coherence between political priorities and global education aims, which allows a better cooperation between the NGOs sector and the authorities in terms of funding opportunities.

It is also necessary to establish long-term relationship and partnership structures between NGOs and government, in order to build a functional funding mechanism in the future; nowadays, hence, we are facing the lack of successful cooperation that has a significant impact on the fruition of funds.

Moreover, global financial crisis of 2007 – 2008 had a strong impact on the public funding situation in many countries, but in NGOs opinion this is a secondary factor.

After problems, the report exposes many recommendations for GCE funding.

It is essential to focus on the importance of building a multi-stakeholder and cross-sectorial partnership and a long-term, consistent and stable GCE funding structure at national and EU level with an emphasis on meaningful and active involvement of public sector institutions in education;

it is fundamental that European Commission continues to invest in financing GCE activities and carries on promoting and developing educational programs in all the EU countries.

With regard to countries whose GCE activities depend totally on the financing of European and International organizations, their national governments have to collaborate in the financing of these activities.

All the entities could also to think about the creation of new financial instruments and financing policies in order to promote the long-term vision and multi-stakeholders approach; in addition, they could research alternative ways to find new sources of funding (private sector, donation …).

Starting from the data collected and from advices and recommendations, following the implemented programs, we can get to develop GCE in the Member States, in order to fully take advantage of its potentialities as everyday-life challenges’ solution.

But there is still a lot of work to do and this requires the commitment of all the institutions and the citizens.

By: Federico Paronetto & Paola Ferrarini