With the latest PISA scores released recently, it was revealed that the top Chinese cities had topped the average across countries around the world for reading, numeracy & science. In addition to these indicators, PISA set out to measure the global competency of students that built on their specific cognitive and socio-emotional skills including, reasoning with information, communicating in intercultural contexts, taking different perspectives, conflict resolution & adaptability. Many of these traits and behaviors are frequently mentioned as part of this 21st century learning skills by Partnership for 21st Century Learning (now referred to as Battelle for Kids). It comes as no surprise that many Chinese parents today see international schools as a haven for domestic students to move away from the over -competitiveness of the Chinese education systems. Rather, they’d prefer their students to develop a global mindset and intercultural competence, as stated in a recent study done after interviewing Chinese parents.
We are now living in an increasingly interconnected, diverse and rapidly changing world. Emerging economic, digital, cultural, demographic and environmental forces are shaping young people’s lives around the planet and increasing their encounters with people, ideas & concepts beyond their typical classroom & communities on a daily basis. When we apply this at VMA, our students are faced with solving complex issues covered by our international educators & curriculum. The content and concepts that are being researched online or just the day-to-day interactions with international music, TV shows, etc. has massively driven them to rethink about how the world works. Students in this global society must learn to live harmoniously in a multicultural community, thrive in a changing labour market & learn to use media platforms more effectively and responsibly.
Global competency is thus reflective of student’s knowledge, skills, attitudes and values of the world and their surroundings. This means that when students examine a global issue, they need to possess the relevant knowledge of this particular issue, the skills to transform the awareness to deeper understanding and the attitudes and values to reflect on the issue from multiple cultural perspectives. The following 4 dimensions of global competency were brought up by the OECD PISA Handbook as what constitutes a globally competent individual:
1. Examine local, global & intercultural issues
2. Understand and appreciate the perspectives and world views of others
3. Take action for collective well-being and sustainable development
4. Engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions across cultures.
At VMA, we believe that global competency is essential to develop world leaders & citizens. Therefore, we constantly provide opportunities for students to engage with these social issues, both in their classroom and beyond. We do this by including relevant subjects such as research seminars with real world issues such as plastic pollution, gaming addiction & even student depression as part of our curriculum. Beyond the classroom, our student clubs and initiatives are openly engaging recycling efforts to clean up the surrounding environment, building up awareness campaigns of teenage bullying, tackle mental health & wellbeing with social programs after-school.
As our world faces a growing number of social and environmental crisis, our students will have to come up with more creative solutions in addressing them. This takes an analytical mind who can examine the context of the issue, develop empathy in understanding other’s views, someone who takes initiative and engage others in solving these problems. This is what we do at VMA. We welcome your new ideas & active participation in the coming years.