In the Czech Republic, the term GDE is understood as ‘a process of lifelong learning which contributes to understanding the differences and similarities between people’s lives in different parts of the world and facilitates the understanding of economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural processes that affect them’. It hones skills and fosters values and attitudes so that people are able and willing to actively participate in solving local and global problems.
The Strategy for Global Development Education and Awareness of Global Contexts for the period 2018–2030 states as its main goals “to ensure access to information on global development for all Czech citizens, to motivate them to take an active approach to responding to global challenges and equip them with the necessary competences that could help them participate in sustainable development.”
The main guarantor of GDE is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the most important conceptual document is the Strategy for Global Development Education and Awareness of Global Contexts for the period 2018–2030. The Strategy outlines the basic visions, foundations, principles, goals, and themes of global education, including how to integrate them into formal and non-formal education at all levels, public awareness, capacity building, and partnership between actors. According to the Strategy, the main goal of GDE is to support people’s ability to understand political, economic, social, environmental, and cultural processes at the global and local levels and to understand how they relate to each other. It also aims to raise awareness of global and development issues among experts and the wide public. The fulfillment of this goal should be ensured by cooperation with non-profit and academic sectors and the public. The MFA, through its Council for Foreign Development Cooperation and the Government Council for Sustainable Development, regularly informs the Government, the Parliament, and experts about the fulfillment of the main strategic goals in the development and humanitarian area. The cooperation between the Council for Foreign Development Cooperation and the Government Council for Sustainable Development in the area of education and awareness raising is also to be strengthened in order to ensure linking GDE to the broader thematic area of education for sustainable development.
The main emphasis in the area of GDE is on more effective integration of global development issues into the formal and non-formal education system, and the provision of the necessary methodological support for educators, because even though the awareness of development cooperation and humanitarian aid is gradually increasing, the GDE topics are still not sufficiently reflected in the education system and there is a lack of a long-term educational policy and systematic methodological support for teachers in the area of GDE. The methodological support is currently provided mainly through projects of non-government organizations. The GDE strategy develops specific objectives for greater integration of GDE into (1) formal education, (2) non-formal education, (3) public awareness, (4) capacity building and partnerships, (5) linking GDE to other policies and areas. The GDE Action plan sets out specific indicators and identifies the institutions responsible for their implementation.
The Strategy concludes that, at the moment, it is essential to include GDE in the Framework Educational Programs (FEPs) that are currently under revision in the form of a cross-cutting theme. It is very important to promote GDE as a separate topic in the revision of the FEPs, or, at least, incorporate it in a way that sufficiently emphasizes the topic across the curriculum and reflects its complexity. In addition, the fundamental precondition for the successful implementation of GDE activities is the strengthening of the active role of the Ministry of Education, especially at the decision-making and strategy-making levels, and integrating the results of strategic planning into the educational system. Another prerequisite is the inclusion of GDE into the framework of Education for sustainable development in close cooperation with the Government Council for Sustainable Development.
In 2020, the Ministry of Education issued the Strategy for the educational policy of the Czech Republic 2030+. The strategy document states that the main goal of education is to form motivated individuals who can use their potential both for the benefit of their own development and for the benefit of the development of the whole society. The strategy has two principal goals, one of which aims to focus education more on acquiring the competencies needed for active civic, professional, and personal life.
Non-formal education focuses on the development of the necessary competencies in the area of GDE outside the framework of the formal educational curriculum. In the area of GDE, these activities focus primarily on strengthening the relationship with the environment and on promoting a healthy lifestyle with an emphasis on the interconnection between local and global aspects of coexistence and the consequent responsibility for sustainable development. Non-formal education is understood to be an area that is very closely linked to formal education and whose main goal is to complement formal educational programs. The interconnection of the two areas can be seen, for example, in the fact that both have their goals defined in the GDE Strategy and their indicators specified in the GDE Action Plan. The Youth Strategy 2014-2020 also deals with non-formal education; however, it focuses on non-formal education in general rather than the area of GDE specifically.
There is no difference made between formal and non-formal education projects in the funding provided by the MFA: both can apply under the same granting scheme. The Ministry of Education announces a special granting title for the State Support for Work with Children and Youth for Non-Profit Organizations (NGOs), which focuses primarily on regular and long-term activities for the widest variety of children and youth possible and on NGOs working with them.
Several stakeholders focus on the development of teachers‘ competencies, including the MoE, the NPI and educational and non-profit organizations. Programmes for teachers include various in-service training courses, mostly focusing on GDE topics and methods. They include short-term courses (e.g. one-day courses) or long-term courses or summer schools. As far as long-term courses are concerned, the 80-hour Critical Thinking and Global Issues by ARPOK is a good example.
Some programs are country specific, others are based on global concepts and have only been adapted to local conditions. Many schools are also actively involved in one of the long-term cooperation programs, which include a large number of activities not only to strengthen the competencies of students but also of the teachers themselves. The following is not an exhaustive list, it only includes a list of selected concepts:
The promotion of GDE is largely linked to public awareness projects implemented by NGOs. Their goal is to provide the experts and wide public with information on development issues, the current situation in the world and global challenges in the form of publications, seminars, exhibitions, media outputs, campaigns, and so on. The following is not an exhaustive list, it only includes a selected campaigns or events:
In November 2021, the eighth year of the Global Education Week (GEW) took place in the Czech Republic. This is a very important event that provides an opportunity to look deeper into global and development issues and discuss how to get all the information across to the youth and the wide public. GEW focuses on formal and non-formal education, and awareness-raising. Over the years, it has had many forms – public film screenings, exhibitions, project days, teaching lessons, lectures, workshops, and expert round tables. The aim of this event is to raise awareness of the concept of GDE and to bring together all those who seek to promote topics related to equality, justice, and sustainability in education. Since 2017, the Czech Forum for Development Cooperation (FoRS) has been organizing the Festival of GDE, which is an opportunity for all GDE stakeholders to actively participate in the event and gain new knowledge and skills or share their own experience.
The fact that the event takes place under the international patronage of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe gives the event the necessary prestige. Thanks to this, FoRS also annually gets patronage from ministries such as MFA, MoEducation, or MoEnvironment. What we appreciate in particular is the international scope of the event – the common topic shared across nations as well as the international cooperation with other members of the Global Education Network. It is a unique opportunity to inspire each other and, therefore, to make each other stronger.