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Making students globally competitive while they learn

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The world of today is extraordinarily competitive, and rife with countless challenges. With globalisation having expanded the horizons of students all over the world, it has also increased the demanding conditions and requirements that they have to satisfy to craft their future in it, writes Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, The Shahani Group.

Throughout their careers, students will have to work for a wide range of companies with connections spanning continents, as well as encounter people from various cultures, and products and clientele from different parts of the world. Thus, it is extremely critical that students of today are trained and equipped to combat the problems and challenges that they will face, on a global scale. Therefore, their success, today, will largely be shaped by how “Globally Competent” they are.

What It Means To Be Globally Competent
The Asia Society’s Centre for Global Education defines a Globally Competent student using four primary characteristics:

Investigating the World
Students should be aware and eager to learn about different cultures around the world.

Recognising Perspectives
Students should understand that a difference in opinion is always a possibility, between people belonging to different cultures. Thus, they should be able to acknowledge different perspectives, without trying to enforce their own.

Communicating Ideas
Students should be adept at conveying their thoughts and emotions, verbally as well as non-verbally, to a diverse audience.

Taking Action
Students should not only obtain knowledge about the world, but also learn to utilise and leverage their learnings in a positive way, to make a difference in the world.

Need For Innovation In Education Systems
Through constant innovation, educational systems can incorporate a number of measures to make students more globally competent -

Introduction of new languages in curriculum
Apart from teaching a globally accepted language like English, institutes can also teach second languages like Mandarin, Spanish, and French, which are fast becoming prominent language skills required for any multinational company.

Incorporate global resources into every subject
Students should be encouraged to refer to research papers and studies from different countries to understand different perspectives from across the globe. Resources from non-English-speaking countries may also be used to inculcate fresh perspectives, and encourage empathy.

Utilise Problem-Based Learning
Students who are globally competent need to be able to solve real-world problems and apply their theoretical learnings in practical situations. Problem-Based Learning is a great way to do that, as it requires students to conduct research on specific problems by themselves, incorporate a range of perspectives, and formulate a solution accordingly. This will aid students in developing critical-thinking skills instead of simply relying on their textbooks for solutions. This, in turn, will facilitate a better and deeper understanding of the concepts, as well as enhance their communication skills.

Organise Educational Trips
Perhaps the best way to make a student culturally aware is by encouraging travel in the teaching pedagogy, through educational trips to different countries. Such trips would act as a gateway for students to experience different locales, on a first-hand basis.

Explore the City
Immersive learning experiences can play a key role in facilitating a student’s all-round development and problem-solving skills. By using the city as a classroom, students can be exposed to a range of real-life problems, which will train them in devising strategic and well-planned solutions.

Measures That The Student Can Take
While institutions play a key role in helping students become globally competent, this competency can only be leveraged to yield results, if the students also take certain steps to further their development.

Watch global news
Students need to explore and be aware of everything that is going on around the world. By watching and listening to news from a number of different countries, they will be able to understand a number of differing perspectives for the same news. A lot of countries, including The US and The UK broadcast news in English, which students can tap into.

Learn a foreign language from your phone
Smartphones have taken the world by storm, and offer a variety of means to enhance one’s knowledge and keep learning. Apps like Duolingo, Babbel, and more, allow students to learn a range of new languages in a fun and interactive manner, using their phones.

Travel the globe on a budget
Travelling abroad can be quite daunting for most students due to its expensive nature. However, many students have nowadays managed to find ways to travel on a low budget, through backpacking. With multiple options like homestays and youth hostels now being available, travelling to a different destination has become extremely convenient. Using public transportation systems like buses or local trains, students can explore a number of different places, and understand the ground realities of life there. It can also help them grasp the many nuances of various cultures through an interaction with the natives, while staying well within the limits of their budgets.

Intern abroad
Apart from travelling, the best way for students to expose themselves to new cultures is by taking up internships in a foreign country. Many organisations today arrange internships in companies or volunteering positions in NGOs for foreign students, to enable them to learn from an exposure to various other cities and countries.

Becoming globally competent is not a simple process, but if pursued correctly, it can be achieved successfully, yielding far-reaching benefits that last throughout their lives. The crucial ingredients for achieving this success include appropriate support from institutions leveraging innovative pedagogy and curriculums, and a personal motivation and drive to learn and consume more information and knowledge. With the world becoming a smaller and more connected space every day, this kind of competency will soon become absolutely essential for the survival of a student in the job market.

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