A connected world: how to develop culturally competent students

By Lisa Hayman, Director, Asia Education Foundation

In 2001, Hedley Beare, in his book ‘Creating the Future School’, introduced Angelica who had just started school. Angelica told us how her world would look vastly different to the one we had grown up in and she emphasised that the Asia Pacific would be a strong focus of her world. 

‘Angelica’ would now be twenty and she definitely lives and works in a world where global connections are made 24/7 via new technologies. Beare’s predictions of an increasingly Asia-focused Australia have also been realized. 27 per cent of Australia’s population are born overseas with India and China our fastest growing source of new migrants. And three of Australia’s top four trading partners are in Asia.

As school educators we need to ensure that the young Angelica’s in our classrooms today develop the capabilities required to harness the opportunities of their increasingly connected world. They need their schools to equip them to be global citizens. They need an understanding of Australia’s place in the world and every young Australian needs intercultural understanding to successfully engage with the world. 

International policy context for global citizenship 

Global citizenship education is now seen as a priority across the world and is central to UNESCO’s strategic plan to 2021. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) recently announced that the 2018 PISA assessment program would include global competencies for the first time - assessing students’ awareness of the interconnected global world that we live and work in and a student’s ability to deal effectively with the resulting demands. 

Global citizens and the Australian Curriculum

Within the Australian Curriculum, General Capabilities and Cross Curriculum Priorities play a significant role in equipping young Australians to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) provides a range of opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate globally and take learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. These learning experiences enable students to develop intercultural understanding and achieve the Curriculum’s goal to enable students to engage with diverse cultures in ways that recognise commonalities and differences, create connections with others and cultivate mutual respect.  

International school partnerships address 21st century skills

The Australia – Korea BRIDGE school partnerships project brings together students and teachers across Australia and South Korea. At a recent professional learning program in Seoul, teachers from both countries piloted ICT tools that could enable cross-cultural global collaborations. The teachers experienced the ease of connecting classrooms across the world as they participated in a virtual tour of the Sydney Opera House via zoom.us. This technology will be used later in the year as #sydneyoperahouselearning connects BRIDGE schools to participate in a performance at the Opera House followed by classroom activities - and all virtual, using videoconferencing. 

Providing learning opportunities like BRIDGE and collaborating on global issues ensures that our students have the capabilities necessary for the 21st century world today.

AEF acknowledges the support of Australia Korea Foundation for the 2015-16 Australia - Korea BRIDGE School Partnerships Project.

BRIDGE connects over 700 Australian schools with schools in Indonesia, China, India and all ASEAN countries. 

To access our new curriculum resources, please visit Connecting Students to the World: Interactive Teaching and Learning Kit.

More Information

Renuka Rajadurai

T: +61 3 8344 1866