Young Australians need to engage with the world

Asia Education Foundation, Go Global Project Officer, Emeline Gillingham explores why our students’ future success is dependent on how well our education system develops their global competence.

The world is changing at a rapid pace and young people everywhere need a global mindset and skill set to succeed.

It’s no longer news that work is being transformed by global markets, new technology and ever increasing ethnic, cultural and social diversity. Which means that our students’ future success is dependent on how well our education system develops their global competence. For young Australians, developing knowledge and familiarity with Asia is a vital part of developing global understanding and contributes to the rich fabric of our social cohesion at home in Australia.

As Australia’s engagement with Asia continues to grow, more and more global opportunities will arise for our young people. The Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan is an example of this. It enables Australian undergraduates to study and take on internships in the Indo-Pacific region.

To be able to take advantage of such opportunities, our students need to be equipped with not only cultural knowledge, but also well-developed communication and language skills and deep intercultural understanding of our region.

As schools across the country begin to rethink the way global competence is taught in schools, fundamental conversations about what constitutes a world-class education are taking place. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has this year announced it will begin to measure student global competence in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) that benchmarks education performance across the world.

The challenge is giving students the opportunity to put these skills into practice in a safe environment, relevant to the sort of real-world opportunities they will encounter. The OECD says this could include intercultural collaboration on analysis of global issues, understanding difference and a shared respect for human dignity.

This week in Wonthaggi, the Asia Education Foundation, in partnership with the Andrews Foundation and Bass Coast Shire Council, hosted the inaugural Global Goals Youth Forum: an exciting new youth program designed to deepen student understanding of global issues and develop global competencies. Fifty Year 9–11 students from Leongatha Secondary College, Newhaven College and Wonthaggi Secondary College took part in the youth forum held at the Wonthaggi Union Arts Community Centre.

The Global Goals Youth Forum acknowledges the role of young Australians in taking action to solve the global issues of our time. The issues explored on the day were those defined by the United Nations Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which include an end to all forms of poverty, inequality plus solutions to tackle climate change. These goals were adopted in 2015 by world leaders gathered at a special United Nations summit.

Victorian Member of Parliament for Bass, Brian Paynter MP, delivered the opening address at the Forum. He said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will help build students’ knowledge and understanding of global issues. The students will be key to solving the big challenges of our future, so it’s great to see them getting involved in this space in their local and global community.”

Distinguished experts on the day included Mary Aldred, Chief Executive Officer, Committee for Gippsland and Harry Freeman from Bass Coast Waste Watchers, who shared their experience in tackling global issues that impact the local community.

Following these inspiring talks, highly-skilled facilitators guided collaboration between students as they developed innovative solutions to these issues. One of the ideas developed by students on the day included a series of workshops for high school students to fight gender stereotypes as a preventative measure to combat gender inequality (goal five).

Events like this provide students and their schools with a great opportunity to develop a deeper awareness and understanding of global issues as well as an opportunity to put these skills into practice to better appreciate what it means to be an active local and global citizen. They offer students the chance to connect what they learn in class with future education and career pathways, ultimately preparing them to take advantage of the global opportunities that are increasingly part of their world.

To find out more about our upcoming youth forums and student engagement opportunities, please visit Global Goals.

This article originally appeared on Splash ABC

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Renuka Rajadurai

03 08344 1866