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The Role Of International Education Amid Growing Anti-Globalisation Sentiment Post-Brexit

22 September 2016

  • Andrew'sblog

In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman argues that the global market is becoming a level playing field with historical and geographical divisions becoming irrelevant. For many expat families, this has become the new reality with globalisation taking them out of their home country and placing them in new environments. 

Even for those that have avoided the migratory patterns of expat living, globalisation has changed the way of life forever—some for the better and some for the worst. 

It seems, however, that across the world, there is now a growing resistance to the spread of globalisation and a return to protectionism with governments discouraging international trade among other things. In politics, we see this trend through the EU referendum vote in the UK, a rise in nationalism in Europe and the momentum that has propelled Donald Trump to become the populist presidential candidate for the Republican Party. 

While there is no denying that uninterrupted globalisation appears to be coming up against some resistance across the world, it shows little chance of slowing down or reversing. 

An international outlook is increasingly a feature of young people today particularly from the Generation Zs we see coming into our schools. They see a world without borders, in part fuelled by the digital advances that connects them not only to their own community, but also to those in other countries. 

So how do we help younger generations secure a better life in the future amid fast-paced change and the irreversible trend of globalisation?

It has become apparent that skills to improve our world require a shift in focus in how we provide education. The growth of the International Baccalaureate - which has seen a 46% increase in take-up over the last five years - is one example of this with parents and educators keen to see an education that balances academic rigour against personal development. 

International education is also a test bed for how we work together in a more interconnected world. At Nord Anglia Education, we instil in our students the value of communicating, collaborating, building cultural awareness and adaptable thinking, which are all qualities to bridge the gaps in a fast-paced, yet fragmented world. 

Our forward-looking programmes, such as the Global Campus, offer activities online, in school and worldwide that help our students see themselves in a global context at an early age. For example, our Global Campus Primary Passport encourages students to explore and learn from the diverse backgrounds of their fellow students in our 43 schools around the world. These activities develop skills such as resilience, communication and critical thinking, so that students can effectively meet the challenges that globalisation brings. It also inspires students to reach out to their peers around the globe to solve real world problems online and in person through community service. This mirrors the working world they will ultimately enter with cross-border collaboration as a facet of their everyday life. 

As a leading schools organisation, it has become paramount for us to develop cultural awareness. Cultural awareness is not learned through books, but through interactions with people from different countries, ethnicities and backgrounds. 

Encouraging students to think as global citizens is part of our challenge as educators. I am confident that our forward-looking programmes offer a brighter future for the next generation, ensuring they are well-placed to take advantage of globalisation and help shape it to deliver a better deal for everyone.