The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have unquestionably been highly successful in bolstering governments’ commitment to poverty reduction, achieving basic education and health, promoting gender equality and environmental sustainability, and bridging the gaps in human development. In spite of these progresses, globalized education is still a requisite and the primary tool in achieving the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda – the continuation of effort to achieve prosperity, equity, freedom, dignity, peace and respect in a world of cultural and linguistic diversity after 2015.
The complexity of today’s globalized world has made development challenges interlinked. Peace cannot be achieved and prosperity cannot be sustained without finding unified, common and general solutions and without all nations contributing unanimously and with a sense of shared responsibility. The Millennium Development Goals which will be succeeded by the Post-2015 Development Agenda at the end of 2015 (United Nation’s 70th Anniversary) has framed sustainable development as a universal project. The post-2015 development agenda includes issues that are of common concern to all and pose challenges at national levels. Moreover, they define objectives to be achieved at the global level.
Before we delve deeper into the role of globalized education in achieving the post-2015 agenda, it will be apposite to have a proper understanding of the concepts that underpin the subject. Suffice it to say that education is both essential and indispensable for sustainable development. Globalized education fuels sustainable development as nations seek to transform their visions for the world into reality.
“Globalization,” as observed by Chang, “is the integration of national economies, culture, social life, technology, education and politics. It is the movement of people, ideas and technology from place to place.” Globalization affects all facets of life universally, scientifically, and technologically. Its effects are felt in world’s culture, economy, environmental, social and human disciplines. In its broadest sense, globalization refers to intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa.
Education has been recognized as a fundamental human right for more than half a century now. It is the endless process of bringing up people to know themselves, their environment, and how they can use their abilities and talents to contribute in the development of their society. Education improves the mind of the student for ethical conduct, good governance, liberty, life and rebirth of the society the student finds himself. Education, as an agent of change, empowers its recipient to be creative. It is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training and research. Any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.
Converse to the traditional way of teaching and learning, globalized education means adopting a universal, scientific, technological and a more holistic approach to education with the aim of preparing and equipping our young ones appropriately for sustainable development, and creating a peaceful and better world for this generation and posterity. Globalized education allows every child to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to shape a sustainable future. It is, however, not culturally, religiously or geographically myopic. It is not racial or given to prejudice. In globalized education, schools do not function in isolation; they integrate with the world outside and expose students to different people and cultures, giving them the opportunity to appreciate cultural differences and what the planet offers, while respecting the need to preserve their culture and the natural and human resources that abound.
The Post-2015 Development Agenda refers to a process led by the United Nations (UN) that aims to help define the future development framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals. The recent UN development agenda is centered on the Millennium Development Goals that were officially established following the Millennium summit of the UN in 2000.
At this point, we can now advance our knowledge on the role of a sound and universal education in achieving this post-2015 development agenda which is expected to tackle and find suitable solutions to many issues.
As the world stands at an historical juncture, it calls for a truly transformational and universal education system that integrates the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) in all activities, addresses inequalities in all areas, respect and advance human rights, fosters love and peace, and that is based on credible, equitable and sustainable system and safe environment for learning.
There are, of course, many different ways in which globalized education can be beneficial and advance the future sustainable development goals. Sound, universal and quality education is not only a top priority but also a cross-cutting matter which is indicated and reflected under three other pivotal goals related to health, economic growth and climate change.
A good global education is the step – the first step in ensuring that these development goals are achieved. Education marked by excellence and a conducive and habitable environment are two hallmarks of our world today. What we are taught, what we learn and how we treat our environment are connected to so many other possibilities in achieving a peaceful society where poverty has no place.
Global education has a felt influence on environmental sustainability. Successful implementation and actual use of new, affordable technologies for sanitation in Africa came with education. Another evident example of how globalized education is helping to achieve environmental sustainability is from a reported Eco-school in the United Arab Emirates which was awarded Green Flag, a symbol of excellence in environmental performance. The students put forward important environmental friendly approaches and messages within and beyond their school community. This innovative thinking to make good use of available natural resources, neither exploiting nor abusing them, came about as a result of a sound learning process that changed their behavior and gave room for them to adopt sustainable lifestyles.
The problem of unemployment does not wholly emanate from the government. Part of it rests on the individual. Why do we go to school? To learn, yes! But far from this narrow-minded purpose is the need to acquire knowledge, a skill, and a know-how that can be applied to earn a living and live a sustainable lifestyle which has positive impact on the society. Though all educated persons are not rich, but each possesses a knowledge that can get him a job, or which he can use to create one. Hence, sound and excellent education with globalization as the driving wheel is a fundamental solution to poverty.
Moreover, there have been significant contributions of globalized education on the health sector. However, time and space will not permit us to have a detailed look at the impacts. Permit me to cite a report which states that “education of large numbers of community-based health workers reduced deaths from malaria by 66 percent in Zambia in six years.” With the right education in health technologies, medicine and other medically inclined fields and sciences, life expectancy will improve evenly and no country will be left behind.
Realizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda requires all hands to be on deck. The government alone cannot carry it. A fresh global partnership is to be forged. A new spirit of mutual accountability and cooperation must underpin the Post-2015 agenda so as to ensure uniform distribution of high quality educational materials to the poorest and least developed countries of the world. As we all know, access to computers and the internet and good conducive environment have become basic needs for education in our modern societies. This new alliance to finance and provide education to reach every child, even the ones in the streets, should be strictly based on a common understanding of our shared humanity, based on mutual respect and benefit. It should put people at the center including those affected by poverty and exclusion, women, youth, the aged, disabled persons, and indigenous people. Civil society organizations, local and national governments, multilateral institutions, the scientific and academic community, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and private philanthropy should come together and ensure that no one is left behind in getting globalized education for sustainable development. We must endeavor to see to it that every child, every individual, color or race notwithstanding gets the opportunity to receive a cost effective, high quality education, starting from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond. A popular Nigerian proverb says, “The upbringing of a child is not the sole responsibility of an individual but a communal responsibility.” Therefore, let us all answer the call and take up the rewarding task of ensuring a quality and universal education for all.
Without mincing words, we can aver that globalized education can help achieving the Post-2015 development goals. For our assertion to stand and remain factual we must consider the interrelations that exist between education and development as they share a symbiotic relationship. Governments, institutions, organizations and individuals must recognize the full potential of education as a requisite and catalyst for sustainable development, and act as such.