THE more we evolve, the more demands roll in on the kind of students our education system should produce.
There is a growing need for youths to be well informed on world events and current topics.
To produce a generation of students with a global mindset, the Global Citizenship Education (GCED) module was rolled out in schools across the country, beginning with lower secondary students on April 5.
The module, which is on the Education Ministry’s Digital Educational Learning Initiative Malaysia (Delima) online platform, is embedded into subjects like Mathematics, Science, History and Geography.
The aim behind the GCED module, which is part of the existing curriculum, is three-fold, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) Malaysia education specialist Azlina Kamal told StarEdu.
“It acts as a tool for forging peace. Young people are their own best advocates and the GCED module provides them with the understanding, skills and values needed to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.
“It can help them to express, innovate, exercise agency, and take an active role in understanding and changing themselves, their communities, and ultimately the world.
“Secondly, we want to raise globally-knowledgeable learners.
“We know global citizens have a broader understanding of global events and they are able to form well-rounded opinions based on a wide breadth of knowledge. We all want this for our children.
“Finally, the module helps to develop empathetic individuals as we want to cultivate empathy, understanding in our children, and teach them respect for other cultures and perspectives,” explained Azlina.
Unicef partnered with social enterprise Arus Academy to collaborate with the Education Ministry on the module – an effort which began in 2017.
The experts who worked on the GCED framework, she added, were careful to ensure that the module would complement the curriculum and not be an added burden or an extra component to the work teachers are already doing.
It is crucial to educate students on global events while laying hold of solutions, Azlina stressed.
While some parts of the world have pressed ahead in technological advancements, human rights violations continue to persist.
Educating students on these topics is where the GCED module comes in, she added.
“It provides project-based lessons and lesson plan examples for students and teachers to explore.
“Teachers can run through the lessons with their students or the students can go through the lessons in their own time.
“Each project is mapped to the national curriculum, the global citizenship education and sustainable development learning objectives based on the three domains of learning – cognitive, socio-emotional and behavioural.
“On the Delima platform, students learn through videos, discussions and interactive activities with different themes such as climate change and gender equality.
“Building sustainable cities is also addressed,” she said, adding that the lessons are designed to inspire students to solve pressing global problems.
These projects, she said, contextualise learning through real world events and examples, and provide opportunities for students to gain global citizenship competencies which include knowledge and skills in social justice, sustainable development, human rights, identity and diversity.
“The module supports target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4, Quality Education) – which is to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development,” she said, adding that Malaysia is committed to achieving this goal by 2030.
GCED, said Azlina, is another way of delivering the curriculum through student-centred methods.
“It puts more focus on the learning process and its assessment is interwoven throughout the process.
“The idea of GCED is also present in a subject like Civics Education because it teaches us how to live together with those from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
“Instead of merely creating a separate subject, GCED is embedded into subjects which allows students to see that what they are learning is relevant to the real world.”
The information and knowledge that students learn in the curriculum, Azlina said, must be practised so that they can develop values and attitudes that promote peace.
“We live in an increasingly interconnected world and while it poses many opportunities, it also comes with challenges where our youth need to make sense of the division, conflict, environmental change and inequalities that are happening.
“This requires skills in empathy, self awareness, reflection, conflict resolution, and managing complexities and uncertainties,” she said, adding that making the module a part of everyday education increases that awareness, and allows students to engage and explore the complexities of global and local issues through multiple perspectives.
GCED pilot and programmes
A pilot programme for the module was held throughout the 2019 school year until February last year involving Form One students in four secondary schools across the country.
Teachers tested out the various projects in the module with their students, Azlina said, adding that a workshop was also held with school leaders to ensure schools are adopting GCED in developing a more positive and global school culture.
Key GCED elements were integrated into the pilot student programmes such as “30 for 30” and “Guardians of the Children” where students explored current issues to come up with solutions through discussions, debates and negotiations, she said.
Current projects available in the module include “Jejak Covid” (Tracking Covid) which is embedded into Geography and “Quality Education for All” which is a Mathematics project.
“Iklim Dunia” (World Weather) is taught during History and “Save Tasik Chini” is incorporated into Science lessons.
These modules can be accessed on Delima via https://sites.google.com/moe-dl.edu.my/gcedmalaysia/projects.
“We’re collecting lesson plans and best practices from classrooms to be featured on the platform so that moving forward, we can create a repository of GCED resources by Malaysian teachers and students,” she said.
Former Education director-general Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim said the approach to implementing the module has to be different from how subjects are taught.
Habibah, who is also an Adjunct Professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, had led the development of the module before her recent retirement.
“What was piloted was more of the changes and how to approach the content and pedagogy.
“It has to be more thematic and dynamic to reflect what’s happening in the world – today’s information will be different tomorrow.
“It’s not just about providing facts and figures because that will become obsolete, so how we approach global citizenship has to be different,” said.