Can you assess global competence?

By Dr Eeqbal Hassim, Associate Director, Asia Education Foundation and Senior Fellow, Melbourne Graduate School of Education

The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has released details of its plan to assess global competency in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests.

Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills at OECD, says, ‘schools need to prepare students for a world in which people need to work with others of diverse cultural origins, and appreciate different ideas, perspectives and values; a world in which people need to develop trust to collaborate across such differences; and a world in which peoples lives will be affected by issues that transcend national boundaries’.

It is expected that 15 year olds in around 80 countries will respond to questions about what it takes to be globally competent. The PISA 2018 assessment aims to build a single scale that measures to what extent students are able to use their knowledge, recognise relationships and perspectives, and think critically about a specific global or intercultural issue.

OECD has defined ‘global competence’ as focusing on intercultural collaboration, analysis of global issues from multiple perspectives, understanding self and difference and a shared respect for human dignity.

The OECD report, Globalcompetencyforaninclusiveworld, says that ‘schools can provide: 

  • opportunities for young people to learn about global developments of significance to the world and to their lives
  • equip learners with the means of accessing and analysing a broad range of cultural practices and meaning
  • let students engage in experiences that facilitate international and intercultural relations and
  • foster the value of diversity of peoples, languages and cultures, encouraging intercultural sensitivity, respect and appreciation.’

This makes sense in a culturally diverse and globally connected Australia.

OECD makes it clear that learning global competence cannot be achieved by simply including more material in the curriculum, stating that, ‘students need to engage in activities that involve experience, comparison, analysis, reflection and cooperative problem solving.’

Asia Education Foundation (AEF) endorses the notion that ‘no school should fail to educate its students to understand and respect cultural diversity. All young people should be able to challenge cultural stereotypes, to reflect on the causes and solutions of racial, religious and hate violence and to help create tolerant, integrated societies.’ 

The comparative evidence from PISA could help rethink the role of education as a vehicle towards socially sustainable societies and intercultural dialogue.

OECD emphasises that teacher education and professional learning are crucial to the successful implementation of education for global competence.

Find out more about AEF’s professional learning (Opens in a new window) and student engagement programs (Opens in a new window) that build global competence.

Read the OECD report.(Opens in a new window)

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Renuka Rajadurai

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