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In today’s world where climate change, Indigenous rights, humanitarian need and many other issues confront us, global citizenship education has never been more important.

Building on from our article on the place of global citizenship in the New Zealand Curriculum, we explore how the key competencies can be developed through exploring global citizenship. Indications are that the key competencies will be woven into the learning areas in the refreshed curriculum. Work on global citizenship encompasses all of the key competencies. By teaching about the world and the challenges we face, global citizenship education (GCED) prepares ākonga to become responsible and engaged global citizens who are ready to make a positive difference in the world.

Participating and contributing

This key competency describes many aspects of global citizenship, including being actively involved in communities, contributing appropriately as a group member and making connections with others. It asks students to understand the importance of balancing rights, roles and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of social, cultural, physical and economic environments. Similarly, GCED encourages learners to engage in community service and take action on issues they care about, which involves using all aspects of this competency.


  • How might your ākonga become involved in your local, national or global community?

  • How could you help your ākonga to understand their rights and responsibilities in local, national or global contexts?

  • There is often a focus on sustainability in relation to physical environments – how might you extend this to explore sustainability in social, cultural and economic environments in New Zealand and globally? 

Global citizenship education is included as a global target in the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

© surgay, 123RF

Relating to others

This key competency is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts, building positive relationships, working collaboratively and resolving differences peacefully. It involves being able to listen to and respond appropriately to a range of points of view. 

Learners need to be aware of the effect their words and actions have on others and the need to be open to new learning opportunities. By working collaboratively on projects that address global issues, students develop important teamwork and leadership skills as well as empathy and understanding for others. 


  • How can we safely expose our ākonga to a range of points of view from a diverse range of people?

  • How can we ensure our ākonga are able to interact with people in a variety of contexts, including outside of the classroom and globally?

  • How might digital technologies facilitate these discussions, and how do we ensure ākonga are safe during these interactions and interacting in respectful ways?

  • How might you encourage ākonga to connect with people from different cultures and backgrounds and work together to solve global challenges?

Managing self

This key competency encompasses self-motivation and organisational skills. Learners are supported to become resourceful, reliable and resilient. They learn how to set goals, make plans and manage projects. These skills are essential, especially when acting responsibly to address local, national and global challenges. By taking action on global challenges, students develop a sense of agency and learn how to manage their emotions and actions in order to make a positive difference in the world.


  • Once a challenge has been identified, how can we support ākonga to work towards possible solutions to local and global challenges? What organisational skills will your ākonga need?

  • How might we scaffold ākonga as they learn to manage themselves? How might this look for your age level(s) of learners?

Using language, symbols and texts

This key competency focuses on using and making meaning from a variety of languages, symbols and texts. GCED supports this by helping ākonga to develop intercultural communication skills and understand the ways in which language and culture are interconnected. By learning about and through different cultures and languages, students are better able to communicate with people from a wide range of backgrounds and appreciate the richness of human diversity. It is also through learning language that we become aware of the different ways of thinking and the different values of other cultures.


  • How can you support and facilitate opportunities for ākonga to create and share texts about global issues?

  • How can you support and facilitate opportunities for ākonga to communicate effectively with people from different cultures?

  • What skills and dispositions do ākonga need to become critical consumers and creators of information?

Oropi student draws challenges they see in the world.

© Centres of Asia-Pacific Excellence


This key competency is about encouraging students to think critically, creatively and reflectively. It includes using metacognitive processes to develop understanding, make decisions, shape actions and construct knowledge. GCED supports this by exposing students to different perspectives and world views and encouraging them to question their own assumptions and biases. GCED provides ākonga with opportunities to learn about complex issues, to consider different perspectives and to make informed decisions. By learning about global issues and the complex challenges facing our world, students are called upon to think deeply and critically about how we can create a more just and sustainable future. 


  • What specific thinking skills will your ākonga need, and how will you support your learners to develop these skills? 

  • How might incorporating global perspectives in their learning deepen students' critical thinking skills?

  • What are some relevant authentic contexts that would support the development of critical, creative and reflective thinking?

Picture books with a global citizenship theme that foster key competencies

Picture books are not just for younger children – many have themes that can be explored with all ages. Some examples are described below.

  • Pink Tiara Cookies for Three by Maria Dismondy. Explores conflict resolution, jealousy and inclusion.

  • Chocolate Milk, Por Favor: Celebrating Diversity with Empathy by Maria Dismondy. Illustrates how actions speak louder than words and drives home the importance of celebrating diversity, kindness, inclusion and empathy. No matter what language you speak, kindness is the universal language.

  • Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho. A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers'. Her eyes “kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future”. 

  • There Must Be More Than That! by Shinsuke Yoshitake. A reminder that we all have the power to choose our own mindsets.

  • What Do You Do with a Problem? by Kobi Yamada. This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn't so sure what to make of it.

  • Dare by Lorna Gutierrez. An inspirational poem full of messages of empowerment, encouragement and the joy of daring to be the best person you can be.

NZ Curriculum key competency-related resources

Global citizenship education in the New Zealand Curriculum

GCED & the NZ Curriculum Learning Areas

Key competencies 

Asia society what is GCED?

PISA global competence

Global citizenship education: Definitions and debates  by Bronwyn E. Wood, Curriculum Matters, 2019, Vol.15 (15), p.93-98. Discusses global citizenship education and how it ought to be taught from the school curriculum.

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