NEWTON, MA | September 18, 2006
According to a new survey asking young people worldwide about their social and cultural beliefs, most identified themselves as members of a “global community,” citizens of a broader multicultural world, concerned about the problems of the planet.
The World Youth Identity and Citizenship Survey, developed by the Our World Alliance, was intended to capture youth thoughts regarding their community and sense of belonging, their political and economic beliefs, and their social and cultural experiences. More than 3,300 young people age 24 or younger took the survey in 100 countries, in every major region of the world, with most responses from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia/New Zealand, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The administration of the survey was coordinated by Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) in collaboration with the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and translated into eight languages, with most responses gathered via the Internet.
“The ways young people viewed themselves were encouraging,” according to Ron Israel, vice president of Education Development Center, who worked on the survey with UNICEF and several other international organizations members of the Our World Alliance. “In terms of seeing themselves as ‘global citizens,’ two-thirds of the young people interviewed are moving on a path to global citizenship,” he said. The survey asked respondents, based on a number of criteria, to rate their level of global citizenship as Getting Started, Moving Along, or as Global Citizens.
The survey results indicated that those who viewed themselves as a member of the global community tended to be: older, more educated, and able to access the Internet. In fact, access to the Internet had a substantial impact on global citizenship scores and classification.
Respondents were also asked to rank the greatest problems faced by the world today. Most believed the three biggest problems to be poverty, terrorism, and AIDS and other diseases. Respondents believed that the strongest obstacles to world peace are: world leaders cannot agree with one another, too much inequality in living standards, and lack of opportunities for people to get to understand one another.
“Results of the survey will be used to inform the development of curricula and materials in the emerging field of global citizenship education,” said Israel. “Understanding youth perspectives is an integral part of the field, and the results of this first questionnaire will help us focus our efforts,” he said. A more extensive survey instrument is currently being developed for 2007.
The World Youth Identity and Citizenship Survey results were presented at the 2006 iEARN Conference this summer in the Netherlands. Ongoing work of the Our World Alliance will be presented at the annual conference of the Association of International Educators in May 2007.
The Our World Alliance partner organizations, which developed the survey, include:
- Education Development Center (EDC)—EDC is one of the world’s leading nonprofit education and health organizations, with 325 projects in 50 countries. EDC brings researchers and practitioners together to advance learning and healthy development for individuals of all ages and institutions of all types. Visit www.edc.org.
- Alice O—Alice O (www.aliceo.nl) is a Dutch NGO specializing in international relationships between schools, teachers and pupils. This is expressed in educative projects and products, contributing to the formation and development of young people into active world citizens.
- iEARN USA: A member of the iEARN (International Education and Resource Network), iEARN USA seeks to enable young people to use the Internet and other new technologies to engage in collaborative educational projects that both enhance learning and make a difference in the world. Based in New York City, IEARN-USA works with educators and students in 120 countries. Visit www.US.Iearn.org.
- Global Youth Action Network: GYAN (www.youthlink.org) is a youth-led membership non-profit that connects organizations in 190 countries. Their mission is “to facilitate youth participation and intergenerational partnership in global decision-making, support collaboration among diverse youth organizations; and provide tools, resources, and recognition for positive youth action.” Based in New York City, GYAN has offices in four other countries.
- Taking IT Global: An international organization with a focus on technology, Taking IT Global aims to connect youth around the world “to find inspiration, information and get involved in improving their local and global communities.” Based in Canada, the organization’s flagship program, www.TakingITGlobal.org, serves as an online community for young people interested in connecting across cultures.
- Dutch National Youth Council: The Dutch National Youth Council (www.jeugdraad.nl) is a coordinating organization that supports the voice of and acts as a focal point for youth ages 12 to 30. Based in Utrecht, Netherlands, the organization’s motto is “participate, think and decide.”
- UNICEF: The leading advocate for children’s rights, active in 191 countries through country programs and National Committees. Visit www.unicef.org.