Today, the world is closely connected, and individuals, communities, and countries live in complex interdependencies.
Individual lives are connected not only to the local communities and countries to which they belong, but also to the global population. Because of this, problems such as environmental destruction, poverty, conflict, and disputes require global solutions. Global citizenship education is integral to understanding and solving these global problems from a social, political, cultural, economic, and environmental perspective.
Volunteers from BINGO
Since July, global citizenship education has been the primary goal for a group of Korean volunteers (including myself) who were sent to Phare Ponleu Selpak from Beyond Interest NGO (BINGO).
BINGO is a multi-stakeholder development cooperative composed of citizens, international development NGOs, and activists from various fields who want to create a better society. All members participate and operate voluntarily. This year, BINGO decided to send a volunteering delegation to help with education at Phare!
The resulting Battambang Global Citizen Education project was an instructor training course that provided global citizenship education to the staff and students of Phare Ponleu Selpak. In addition to learning about global citizenship, the Phare staff were trained to become global citizen instructors themselves through educational practice at nearby elementary schools.
What Is Global Citizenship Education?
Global citizenship education (GCED) is grounded in the idea that humans are all interconnected and share one global community. The United Nations defines global citizenship education as “a form of civic learning that involves students’ active participation in projects that address global issues of a social, political, economic, or environmental nature.” According to UNESCO, a champion of global citizenship education, GCED entails gaining a deeper understanding of human rights, geography, the environment, systems of inequalities, and historical events that underpin current developments.
Elements of GCED Curriculum at Phare Ponleu Selpak
The volunteers from BINGO who came to Phare Ponleu Selpak centered a large part of our global citizenship education curriculum around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The SDGs are a series of 17 goals created by the UN that provide targets for world development and a framework for how the world can get there. SDGs aim for the well-being of people and the planet, and they aim to be completed by 2030 in cooperation with the UN and the global community. By teaching Phare students about the SDGs, they have become more globally aware and gained a better understanding of the specific problems the world faces and how they can be part of the solutions.
More broadly, the Battambang Global Citizen Education project emphasizes that Phare students not only acquire knowledge, but also critically analyze current global problems and phenomena, respect differences and diversity, and enhance their ability to participate in global communities through responsible actions.
What Has Global Citizenship Education Looked Like at Phare?
The four-month global citizenship education project began in July by introducing the 32 students/participants to a total of six themes:
- The SDGs
- Human Rights
- Global Environment
- Fair Trade
- International Development Cooperation
After we introduced the students to the concept of “plogging” (picking up litter while jogging) during the global environment class, participants suggested that they hold a plogging campaign at Phare Ponleu Selpak. This is one example of how Phare students embodied their global citizen education training. They took concrete action toward fighting plastic pollution and showed how small community outreach efforts can make a real difference.
The GCED members then spread the word further with this video about conserving resources to save the environment!
The GCED project team even went to Veal Veng in western Cambodia for a two-day workshop.
While we were all there, I made them choose the subject they wanted to teach out of the six subjects (listed above) that I taught Phare staff over a total of 12 hours. Next, I had the GCED students create detailed instructional plans in English. After that, they had time to do a class demonstration in Khmer.
Then over the course of four weeks, they went to Phare Elementary School, where they taught the children the global citizenship education curriculum in Khmer, using the instructional plans they’d created in Veal Veng.
Here’s a video that introduces the activities that took place throughout the Battamang Global Citizenship Education Project.
In addition, the Phare GCED students translated a global citizenship textbook from English into the Khmer language. Now the translated version can be used to educate all Cambodian people, including those who don’t speak English.
Results of GCED at Phare Ponleu Selpak
As a result of the four months of global citizenship education, a total of 32 Phare Ponleu Selpak staff and students received a global citizenship education certification. In addition, 21 of these 32 students participated in educational practice and became Cambodia’s first global citizenship instructors!
The solidarity and cooperation displayed by the students throughout the course showed that they already possessed many of the qualities and life skills of productive global citizens. They never shied away from a challenge and were always quick to help supplement each other’s work to make sure the load was evenly spread and instruction was as effective as possible. All they needed was a little nurturing in order to blossom into the skilled, productive global citizens they are today.
Also, I would like to personally thank Teacher Camino (from BINGO) who was a strong support to me for the four months of world citizenship education at Phare. Without her strength and encouragement, I might have given up on the project!
Global Citizenship Education into the Future
Although us volunteers from BINGO are leaving in December and January (’23-’24), this does not mean the end of global citizenship education. Through Zoom meetings every three months, I will continue to provide global citizenship education training to trained global citizenship education instructors in Phare Ponleu Selpak. And our agency, BINGO, will provide instructor fees to instructors who continue to provide global citizenship education in the field.
I and the other Korean volunteers would like to extend a huge thank you to the Phare Ponleu Selpak community for being so welcoming and generous, and for giving us the opportunity to impart our experience onto the next generation of Phare students!
Want to help change lives through the arts? Join Phare Ponleu Selpak as a volunteer and use your skills and expertise in transforming the lives of children and youth in Battambang, Cambodia.