Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes: Understanding global competence through the lens of the OECD

By Hamish Curry, Executive Director, Asia Education Foundation

“The global competence of our youths today may shape our future as profoundly as their reading, math and science skills.”

The first edition of AEF Investigates looks at the recent OECD Report on Global Competence, following the inclusion of a global competence component in the 2018 worldwide PISA Test. The OECD’s Report captures insights into global competence for the 66 education jurisdictions which contributed student response data for hundreds of thousands of 15-year-olds.

However, Australia did not participate in the main Global Competence Test – only the Questionnaire component. It is not clear why in a culturally diverse and globally connected country like Australia decision-makers are not interested in how our next generation are developing global competence. Australian policymakers trust PISA to tell us how effective we are in literacy, maths and science – our students’ global competence should be equally valued.

High performing education systems including Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Canada scored very highly across most of the dimensions of Global Competence.

Key findings in the Report include:

  • Young people have the capacity and willingness to engage with global issues - but taking action needs active teacher support
  • Including global issues and intercultural learning in the curriculum is not enough - building teachers’ global competence is essential
  • Advantaged students have access to more learning opportunities on global competence than disadvantaged students
  • Girls showed significantly greater awareness of global issues than boys
  • Education jurisdictions in the Asia Pacific showed some of the highest and lowest scores
  • Students from Australia reported some of the most positive attitudes towards immigrants – but Australia ranks second last in learning foreign languages.

AEF recommends six key actions from this report to build global competence in the Australian education system:

  1. Adopt whole-school approaches to embedding global competence. No one teacher or area of a school can drive and scale global competence.
  2. Increase investment in professional development to build capacity of teachers in navigating global competence.
  3. Develop culturally inclusive and culturally sensitive curriculum
  4. Address alarmingly low rates of language learning in Australia which undermines our global competence
  5. Expand collaboration with other countries in the Asia Pacific on global competence in education
  6. Australian education jurisdictions to work to gather better data on what our students know, understand and do about their place in the world. A national evidence base on global competence will help drive national priorities like the Mparntwe Declaration.

Full report to be published on 30 November.

Opening quote Andreas Schleicher, OECD Director of Education and Skills.