At the 9th Educational Quality Forum (IX Foro de Calidad Educativa), held by Educar 2050, an Argentinean organization focused on improving education in the country, our attention was captivated by the lecture of a renowned global education specialist and Harvard University professor, Fernando Reimers. We found his notion that, “the development of global competence is a necessity for all students in the 21st century” particularly significant.

We know that education is undergoing a process of change and transformation all around the world – including the recently announced new PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) global competence tests for 15-year-olds worldwide planned to take effect in 2018. The development of cognitive abilities alone is no longer enough for students, it is also necessary to develop socio-emotional and interpersonal skills, as well as intercultural competences.

Why develop intercultural competence? Intercultural competence is a crucial part of global citizenship education. It empowers us to relate to people from different cultures in a respectful way, making the most of those differences and learning to appreciate them. These days, we are in permanent contact with different cultures, with the other, with the unknown, and that is why it is so important that young people can get along as global citizens in such a globalized world. In Professor Reimers’ words, “what should be learned is to become global citizens and meet humanity’s challenges.”

Professor Reimers presented Harvard University’s Global Education Innovation Initiative and their International Education Policy Program. The purpose of this initiative is to understand how public education systems, anywhere in the world, equip students with the competences they need to become masters of their own life and people capable of improving their communities.

If you want to learn more about global education, we recommend some of Professor Reimers’s books:

  • Teaching and learning for the twenty-first century. Edited by Fernando M. Reimers and Connie K. Chung, May 2016.
  • Empowering all students at scale. Edited by Fernando M. Reimers, April 2017.
  • Empowering global citizens. Fernando M. Reimers, Vidur Chopra, Connie K. Chung, Julia Higdon, E. B. O’Donnell, July 2016.
  • Empowering students to improve the world in sixty lessons. Fernando M. Reimers, May 2017.

Sharing this vision, in AFS we consider of foremost importance that teachers can support their students in developing intercultural skills, and so we are committed to training teachers and providing them with resources to be able to do this. Intercultural competence and global education allow us to have a better knowledge of ourselves and then, of our own culture. This first step, essential to understand others and their cultural complexities, is key to becoming global citizens.

Read this article in Spanish


by Nadia Bello Rinaudo, Educator & School Relations Responsible at AFS Argentina and Uruguay