Global competence is a multi-dimensional concept that needs a combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values successfully applied to global concerns or intercultural situations. In a rapidly changing world, the ability to be engaged citizens and collective problem solvers who are ready for the workforce is essential.
"Global competence is the ability to examine local, global and intercultural issues to comprehend and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others, to engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions with people from different cultures, and to act for collective well-being and development."
Global competency begins with curiosity - it could be about other cultures, histories, politics, geographies and faith. It also implies an openness to discovering cultural differences and a willingness to risk and move outside one’s comfort zone in the process. It requires the ability to understand prevailing world conditions, problems, opportunities and trends through an interdisciplinary lens in order to understand issues in their complexity.
Global competence is supported by knowledge of global issues that affect lives locally and around the globe as well as intercultural knowledge, i.e. knowledge about similarities, differences and relations between cultures. This knowledge helps to challenge misinformation and stereotypes about other countries and people, and thus counters intolerance and oversimplified representatives of the world.
Global competence also builds on specific cognitive, communication and social-emotional skills. Globally competitive students are able to reason with information from different sources i.e. textbooks, peers, influential adults, traditional and digital media. Global competency demands effective communication skills – both linguistic and intercultural – in order to engage in open, appropriate, and effective interactions with people from varied backgrounds. It equips an individual to move from learning about the world to making a difference in it. They are ready to make decisions, take action and contribute positively t their communities in ways that are purposeful, ethical and built on integrity.
Global competence embodies and is driven by key characteristics or attitudes. There should be an attitude of openness towards people from other cultural backgrounds, an attitude of respect and an attitude of global mindedness. Such attitudes can be fostered explicitly, through participatory and learner-centred teaching, as well as implicitly through a curriculum characterized by fair practices and a welcoming school climate for all students.
Values go beyond attitudes, as they transcend specific objects or situations. They are more general beliefs about the desired goals that individuals strive for in life. Valuing human dignity and cultural diversity contribute to global competence because they constitute critical filters through which individuals process information about other cultures and decide how to engage with others and the world. IB programmes have been developing these global competencies since its launch in 1968. And for that when describing and presenting the opportunity to assess global education and competency, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) included the International Baccalaureate (IB) as a model that promotes global understanding. Given IB’s expertise in international education and emphasis on international mindedness, IB staff members contributed to the development of the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) global competence framework.
Unlike traditional content–based curriculums, IB encourages schools to focus on concepts and goals that are significant and enduring. IB’s mission is to promote intercultural understanding and respect through education. Many elements of international mindedness are reflected in the IB learner profile. One of the key characteristics of IB is that students learn a second language, which promotes multilingualism and intercultural understanding, both of which are vital to IB’s mission.
Learning a new language is only the beginning of appreciating and understanding another culture. In that respect, dimensions of moral, social and ethical implications as well as international, historical and multicultural aspects, are considered in each subject group while planning for learning and teaching.
Learning by doing and experiencing is a key component in IB education including the kind of teaching and learning common to all IB programmes. Services, as a parameter of action, has always been a shared value of the IB community.
Gaining knowledge about the world occurs within and outside of school, and it is the work of a lifetime. Globally competent students are lifelong learners. They are able to adapt and contribute knowledge and understanding to a world that is constantly, rapidly evolving. Global competence is a crucial shift in our understanding of the purpose of education in today’s world. Hence, we must ensure a more creative and visionary educational response to the interconnected world of the 21st century.