What is global citizenship and how can it be used in classrooms?

At its core, ‘global citizenship’ is the idea that our identities extend beyond geographical, physical or political borders and our responsibilities to each other and the planet stem from a wider sense of ‘humanity’. It informs how decisions in one part of the world can affect others in different areas.

It is important in shaping how we conduct ourselves as individuals and as part of our global community. Global citizenship helps promote respect for others, encourages us to think about issues of equality and justice, and emphasises the importance of cultural diversity.

At Open Arms, it helps us work in partnership with individuals and communities in Malawi, and guides our values of respect and care.

How can I use this in my school?

Global citizenship-informed education will make sure that the next generation of students can grow up understanding how their role is interlinked to others, even in as far away as Malawi. 

We are passionate about this topic and have developed some tools that can provide you with a guide on how to incorporate global citizenship into your classrooms.

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What do I do next?

1) Start with the Global Goals

An important part of being an active global citizen is being aware of how to minimise and reduce harm to our planet and the life it sustains. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are a framework to combat these harms. Their success relies on global citizens to take them forward and put them into action.

Lesson idea:

Take the downloadable information sheets available from Open Arms Malawi to understand what the goals are and how a small organisation like Open Arms is contributing to them.

Have a class discussion on a selection of the goals chosen by your students.

This activity and the fact sheets provided will start to encourage thinking around what it means to be a global citizen, how to be an effective and active global citizen, and how to respectfully support others who live in different circumstances around the world.

2) Take a deep dive into one of the goals by understanding more about Malnutrition.

In our fact sheet on malnutrition we share a more detailed case study of some of the children we support and look at how this work links into the wider goals.

Lesson idea:

In your classroom get the students to read the case studies and look at the images.

Discuss the longer term impact of malnutrition in a country like Malawi – undertake some research to understand this more and get groups to present their findings.

Ideas could include:

Encourage thinking around the kinds of opportunities your students have been offered in their own circumstances, what their own privileges have afforded them, and how they can use them to help others who have not had access to the same.

3) Inspire and learn!

Global citizenship is more than an understanding of development challenges alone - it embraces what makes each country and its people unique.

Lesson idea:

What does your school already know about Malawi? Spend five minutes online reading about the country.

Read our factsheets on ‘understanding Malawi’ and a snapshot of Malawi in 2022.

Encourage your class to challenge their first impressions and what they thought they knew about the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’.

How can they gain a wider perspective of different countries and all the diversity, warmth and culture they have to offer?

We would be happy to join a lesson to offer some first hand accounts of what life is like in Malawi and to answer any questions.

This is the first of several resources we are working on to bring Malawi into as many classes as possible. If you have any feedback of what will work for you and your students we would be happy to work with you. We look forward to supporting you and future generations of global citizens!


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