Seeking Change Through Promoting Global Citizenship Education By Mariam Moemen; some content provided by Omar Shiry.

The Graduate School of Education (GSE) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) hosted a presentation titled “Promoting Global Citizenship” on Monday, Nov. 6th, 2017. The presentation was organized by Dr. Nagwa Megahed and Dr. Barbara Brown as part of the Civic and Peace Education initiative. The presentation was led by Mr. Gabriel Elkhilli, UNESCO Program Specialist.

Panel introduction by Dr. Nagwa Megahed (center), associate professor of comparative and international education. Photo by Omar Shiry.

Mr. Elkhilli introduced the UNESCO frame regarding educational reform and change. He was keen to link the importance of using education as a way to combat poverty, violent extremism and increase knowledge regarding sustainable development. He focused on the Arab region mentioning that Tunisia have always been the leader when it comes to pedagogical advances and recently after their January 11th revolution a rise in the educational reform has taken place.

Dr. Barbara Brown, AUC Board of Trustees member, noting the presentation's key points. Photo by Omar Shiry.

He also said that “There is a shift in how education starts to be seen mainly in post 20th century discussion” which is why UNESCO created a handbook whereby policymakers and educators can make use of. The needs of this century are changing and so are the needs of education where the authority is in the hands of the student as well. The application of education is also challenging especially when mentioning that ministries are recently suggesting that certain subjects be removed from the curriculum as they are not adaptive to today’s needs and he used the Arabic Language and Philosophy classes as an example. He mentioned that the problem with this way of thinking is that it tries to eliminate things rather than change the method of education to engage the students and make use of those subjects.

Mr. Gabriel Elkhilli ,UNESCO Program Specialist, discussing UNESCO’s educational reform initiatives. Photo by Omar Shiry.

“Education should be transformative” were the words Mr. Elkhilli used to begin the second part of the lecture whereby he described the on-ground application of UNESCO’s frame of Education on post-conflict Tunisia. The UNESCO created another handbook for Tunisian Youth on Democracy and Political Reform following the revolution. The handbook gained widespread influence on all of Tunisia and was accompanied by the start of more than 19 citizenship clubs for youth. They were keen on engaging youth both in classrooms and in the extracurricular clubs created which are now part of the Tunisian youth culture.

An AUC student, from Tunisia, sharing with the audience his firsthand experience regarding educational reform. Photo by Omar Shiry.

According to U.S News, “Education is the number one priority of the government of Tunisia, with a ranking of 4 in terms of the MENA region” (US News). “If Education in Egypt took the same path and attention especially from the policy makers, change would be inevitable” as discussed by attendee Ms. Nashwa Mohy El-Deen.The presentation was motivating to everyone attending with hopes that an educational reform will be sparked in Egypt soon.

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