Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Cultural diversity

  • Meeting with others at the local tea house is a favourite pastime in Pakistan.
  • A Samoan family stands outside their traditional open-walled house.
  • The ojapali dance from Assam, India, has a leader and followers singing and dancing to tell ancient stories.
  • Dance is part of everyday life in Uganda celebrating everything from birth to death, worship to expressing joy.
  • After the month of Ramadan, with dawn-to-sunset fasting, Muslims celebrate Eid ul-fitr, breaking the fast with sweets in Singapore.
  • Annaprashan or First Rice, is a Hindu ceremony marking a baby’s first meal in which family members feed the baby rice.
  • A family gets together to celebrate their grandmother’s 80th birthday in Pune, India.
  • A man lowers his fishing net into the river to catch fish for his family's evening meal in Vietnam.
  • Fathers care for their children in Pakistan as they share roles with women.
  • Every day, hundreds of washermen work in the open laundry in Mumbai, India. At night their wash slats become beds.
  • Villagers wearing traditional costumes beat drums at a ceremony in Papua New Guinea.
  • A woman sells strings of colorful flowers.
  • The sextant has replaced the traditional skill of using the position of the stars and wave patterns to navigate.
  • A Niuean dance group performs a traditional Polynesian dance to welcome tourists.
  • Women have their hair braided at Wuse market in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, for Christmas festivities.
  • Islanders work together to catch fish in shallow waters off the coast of Ifalik Island, Federated States of Micronesia.
  • An islander boy leans against traditional stone money in front of a traditional community house on Micronesia's Maap Island.
  • A family, riding donkeys, arrives at a small settlement in the north of Niger.
  • In a Niger village, this feast of lamb, vegetables and millet, which celebrates a child’s baptism, is shared among everyone.
  • A Timor-Leste man wears a tais mane around his waist, made from cloth woven in a local design.
  • Farmers threshing, or separating rice seeds from stalks and husks (chaff), in Thailand
  • Women in  Rajasthan, India, in saris spend time searching for, collecting and carrying firewood before they can cook food.
  • A woman bakes flat bread on a fuel efficient stove in Tilonia in north-east India.
  • In rural villages in Laos, houses are built with walls of woven bamboo and have a grass thatched roof.
  • The colourful floating markets in Thailand are where farmers bring their produce to sell from small boats.
  • Open-air fruit and vegetable market in Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • Locals and tourists buy items at a market on a narrow ridge of a village in a in mountainous area.
  • People view a large sculpture of a hen sitting on the beach.
  • A holy man with beard and wears ochre-coloured scarf around his head and shawl.
  • Row boats take Pacific Islanders out to a sailing boat floating in the distance.
  • Pacific Islanders from Solomon Islands and Vanuatu standing on the deck of a sailing ship.
  • Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.
  • Former Pacific Island indentured labourers waiting for deportation from Cairns, Australia, to their homes in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, 1906.
  • Cultural, linguistic and biological evidence indicates people of the Pacific Islands travelled west through South-East Asia.
  • Pieces of red clay pottery with raised circular patterns have been joined together to form a pot. .
  • Thor Heyerdahl sailed from Peru to French Polynesia to show it was possible that the Pacific Islands were settled by people from the east.
  • A woman prepares a meal in the kitchen of her concrete block house.
  • Ten year old students in black and red costumes dance outside their school.
  • Indonesian school girls learning to play cricket.

Quick facts

  • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, 21 May, promotes intercultural dialogue, inclusion and cooperation for peace, progress and equality for all.
  • Nearly 6,000, or 94%, of languages are spoken by only 6 per cent of the world's people and more than half of these languages could die out before 2100 unless action is taken.
  • Papua New Guinea, with 836, has the most living languages, followed by Indonesia with 707, Nigeria with 529 and India with 454.
  • Australia has the ninth highest number of living languages with 245 languages, of which 214 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
  • The 2011 Australian census revealed that over a quarter (26%) of the population was born overseas and a further one-fifth (20%) had at least one overseas-born parent.
  • Indigenous peoples constitute about 5% of the world's population, yet account for about 15% of the world's poor.


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Intercultural dialogue 

Contributors' notes

Contribution guidelines

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Our multiple and changing cultural identities

Whatever community we belong to, it is full of diversity – differences in gender, age, culture, ethnicity, abilities, religion, languages and attitudes. From birth, our family and community envelop us in language, understandings, values and beliefs so that we will think and behave in acceptable ways. As we grow up and interact with our community, we become members of different groups and expand our understandings, values and behaviours. 

Globalisation, social media, migration and urbanisation are all leading to increased connections between people of diverse cultural identities, and intercultural understandings are becoming more important for respectful interactions. 

Engaging with people of varied backgrounds expands our world view, develops greater understanding of our own identity and helps us to appreciate alternative points of view, but it can also be challenging. If we focus on the differences between people, separating groups into 'them' and 'us', there is potential for conflict and for people to be discriminated against and treated unjustly.

Cultural identity

Our culture is the way we think and behave. It encompasses lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

Culture includes observable features such as language, food, clothes, celebrations, art and literature as well as the less observable features of attitudes, beliefs, values, status and use of time and space, which form the basis of the visible.

Culture is dynamic, changing through interaction with other cultures and adapting to different environments. Attitudes change over time – for example, attitudes towards slavery, the rights of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Cultures are not always connected to nationality. For example, wealthy young people in different countries connecting through social media may have more in common with each other than they do with poor or older people in their own country.

Generally, we are so comfortable with our own culture and so consider what we do as 'normal' that we may not be aware of our biases, prejudices and inconsistencies.

Cultural diversity

Culture can unite people with similar values, attitudes and beliefs, but it can also divide and disconnect people. Discrimination or abuse on the basis of ethnicity, religion, nationality, socio-economic status or gender makes people feel worthless, fearful or threatened. This may lead to violence and conflict. Lack of consideration of cultural diversity can mean people are excluded from groups and from education and health services, which lessens their contribution to the community and ability to earn a living. This is an abuse of their human rights.

Minority groups in society may be in danger of losing their language and unique characteristics as they are expected to assimilate to function fully within the culture of the dominant group. This can lead to the loss of individual identity and cultural knowledge, which has been refined over centuries and which may hold the keys to building a sustainable future.

As communities become more diverse they need to find ways to live peacefully together. Some people expect minority groups to assimilate or blend in completely, like a 'melting pot', with the dominant culture. Some people show appreciation of other cultures through sharing of visible aspects, such as food and festivals, known as multiculturalism. Other people view cultures as parts of a mosaic, acknowledging their differences, but valuing a deepening understanding of others and negotiating interaction that acknowledges shared values and intercultural understanding.

Building intercultural understanding

Everyone has their own way of expressing their culture and responding to other cultures. Encountering other cultures can result in 'culture shock', but along with a commitment to human rights and the determination to ensure a sustainable and peaceful future there is the need to develop intercultural understanding and the values and skills that will promote this. These include values of respect, empathy and tolerance, and appropriate and effective communication skills. Resolution of conflicting points of view relies on a willingness to listen, avoidance of stereotypes and the ability to negotiate differences and adapt behaviours. As cultures evolve and people struggle to balance conflicting ideas, this is an ongoing learning journey.


Australia's response

Australia's overseas aid program fosters the promotion and protection of human rights for sustainable and equitable development. Programs advance the protection and promotion of human rights by supporting grassroots activities for local human rights groups and building the institutional capacity of national human rights bodies. They recognise that individuals need to have secure and long-term access to the resources required to satisfy their basic needs, be they economic, social, cultural, civil or political.

Australia's Aid Human rights

International responses

There are many international statements promoting the importance of cultural diversity, languages and multilingualism. These include:

Acknowledgement of cultural and linguistic diversity is important in achieving an enjoyment of human rights and advancing these Millennium Development Goals:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability.

Teaching activity

Food for the world

Newly planted paddy rice seedlings in a field near Sekong, Laos.
Students investigate the types and amounts of foods eaten around the world, and the environmental, economic, political and cultural factors that affect access to food. They develop an understanding of why some people in the world have more than enough to eat, while others struggle to have the basics for survival, and explore ways people could work together to achieve food security for all.
Read more
Year level: 5-6
Issue: Food security, Cultural diversity
Country: Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Laos, Vietnam


A family gets together to celebrate their grandmother’s 80th birthday in Pune, India.
Students investigate family, community, national and international celebrations and special places to develop understanding about the importance of heritage.
Read more
Year level: 3-4
Issue: Cultural diversity
Country: Australia

My place, your place

Poor people fear being forced to leave their homes, built along Bassac River in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Students explore why it is important to have a home, and reflect on what is essential for adequate housing. They investigate different styles of housing around the world and develop an awareness of environmental, cultural and economic factors that influence the kinds of homes people have.
Read more
Year level: F-2
Issue: Poverty reduction, Cultural diversity

Optics and eyes

An illustration showing how the camera obscura allows light though a pinhole to projects an inverted image on the opposite side of the box.
Students build a pinhole camera and examine the structure of the human eye. They investigate and compare how the eyes function, and learn how the Muslim scientist Ibn al-Haytham first connected pinhole cameras and the operation of eyes in the 10th century.
Read more
Year level: 7-8
Issue: Cultural diversity

Our many identities

Annaprashan or First Rice, is a Hindu ceremony marking a baby’s first meal in which family members feed the baby rice.
Students explore their own identity through examining their arrival, multiple identities and connections to place. They develop a positive sense of self and recognise commonalities and differences with others, cultivating respect. They examine contributions people make to community and consider their own actions.
Read more
Year level: F-2
Issue: Cultural diversity, Health
Country: Australia, Timor-Leste, India, Laos, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

Pacific Islanders in Australia

Cartoon supporting he Pacific Island Labourers Bill, 1901, showing the Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, cleaning a black boy.
Students explore 150 years of connections between Australians and people of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. They examine attitudes that led to the bringing of Pacific Islander labourers to Australia, their treatment and current contributions to Australian society and economy
Read more
Year level: 9-10
Issue: Cultural diversity, Globalisation
Country: Australia, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu

Poster art

A poster promotes covering bins to control mosquitoes and prevent the spread of dengue fever in the Philippines.
Students identify key elements of the genre of poster art and demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between historical and cultural periods and the artworks studied. They compare and contrast the ways in which ideas and art-making processes are used to communicate meaning in selected artworks.
Read more
Year level: 9-10
Issue: Health, Cultural diversity
Country: Solomon Islands

Probability and pancakes

A woman bakes flat bread on a fuel efficient stove in Tilonia in north-east India.
Students read Mama Panya's Pancakes to gain insights into other ways of life and explore probability, fractions and measurement.
Read more
Year level: 3-4
Issue: Cultural diversity, Food security, Poverty reduction

Tourism and development

The steep Haa Valley in western Bhutan looks toward the snow-capped Himalayas.
Students examine the positive and negative effects of tourism in Australia and Bhutan using a case study and statistics to examine social, environmental and economic changes. They examine how varying approaches to tourism can support positive development and limit the negative effects. They reflect on their own future behaviour.
Read more
Year level: 9-10
Issue: Cultural diversity, Globalisation, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia, Bhutan

Voyage to the Pacific

Cultural, linguistic and biological evidence indicates people of the Pacific Islands travelled west through South-East Asia.
Students examine oral histories, language and scientific evidence to learn about interpreting evidence and timeline construction.
Read more
Year level: 7-8
Issue: Cultural diversity, Globalisation
Country: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

What's globalisation got to do with me?

In 2006, women were active participants in the first direct elections in Aceh, Indonesia. They voted and stood for office.
Students explore ways in which they are linked to flows of people, capital, goods and services around the world; discuss advantages and disadvantages of globalisation; and analyse the intercultural understandings that inform working in a global context.
Read more
Year level: 9-10
Issue: Globalisation, Cultural diversity

Who are the families of the world

A Samoan family stands outside their traditional open-walled house.
Students examine descriptions, photos and data to deepen their understanding of the diversity of families throughout the world. They develop an appreciation of the diversity of roles and recognise how families have changed over time.
Read more
Year level: F-2
Issue: Human rights, Cultural diversity

Case studies

Australian Pacific Islanders

Row boats take Pacific Islanders out to a sailing boat floating in the distance.
During the second half of the 19th century Pacific Islanders were vital labour for the sugar industry, but many were deported when Australia became a nation in 1901.
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Batik cooperative empowers women

Sukini from Gulurejo, Indonesia, learns new skills at a batik workshop and shares her ideas as part of a cooperative.
A batik cooperative in Gulurejo village in Indonesia has developed new practices and improved the women members’ livelihoods.
Read more

Cultural change in Solomon Islands

In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers.
Learning about human rights is empowering women to speak out and improve equality in Solomon Islands.
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Educating girls in Pakistan

New teaching methods and smaller classes, like this one in Pakistan, help children learn.
Special activities to address the reasons children, especially girls, do not attend school are improving education.
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Empowering women in Papua New Guinea

Linda Rau from Kila Kila Village Court, PNG, resolves disputes and builds understanding of issues, particularly those affecting women.
Training and awareness raising is leading to more women decision-makers in Village Courts and the National Parliament and helping improve the lives of women in general.
Read more

Myanmar refugees

To minimise environmental impact, Myanmar refugees construct and repair their houses with materials provided by the Thailand Burma Border Consortium.
Refugee camps on the Thailand–Myanmar border have been home to displaced minority groups for many years.
Read more

People of the Pacific

Cultural, linguistic and biological evidence indicates people of the Pacific Islands travelled west through South-East Asia.
The origin stories of Pacific Islanders and scientific evidence provide insights into the formation and history of settlement of the Pacific Islands.
Read more

Tourism for development in Bhutan

The steep Haa Valley in western Bhutan looks toward the snow-capped Himalayas.
The tiny kingdom of Bhutan is trying to balance maintaining its traditional cultures with the improvements that connecting to the world can bring.
Read more


Arab Gateways

Arab Gateways has interactive games, film clips and five inquiry units to assist secondary students explore the diversity of cultures, environments, histories and economies of the Arab region.

Australia: Intersections of identity

Australia: Intersections of identity from The Asia Education Foundation is a collection of 40 film, literature and art resources with contextual historical, socio-political and geographical notes. The resource explores the effects on Australian identity of our contact with the Asian region. Teaching activities are scaffolded under the headings Connect, Explore and Transform, and include a variety of Web 2.0 learning opportunities. Secondary English students can explore content through five themes: 'Fusions', 'Journeys', 'Frictions', 'Look both ways' and 'Out there!'.

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Commission’s education resources are designed to introduce students to human rights concepts in an engaging, relevant way. They develop literacy and numeracy skills in a range of learning areas. Topics include human rights, child rights, disability rights, Indigenous rights and race and diversity. They are suitable for year 5 and above.

Building Bridges

The booklet Building Bridges: A Peace Corps Classroom Guide to Cross-Cultural Understanding provides short, adaptable lesson plans and activities that build cross-cultural awareness, respect, and communication in upper primary and lower secondary classrooms. It introduces the concept of culture, and has activities on being seen as different, accuracy of generalisations, expanding points of view, resolving misunderstandings and seeing both sides of an issue. Although written for an American audience it could be easily adapted for Australian classrooms.

Cultural Connections

Cultural Connections is a free curriculum resource from ChildFund Australia which explores concepts of culture through a series of engaging activities and videos created by children in Australia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. It is suitable for years 3–4 geography, year 5–6 civics and citizenship and the Intercultural Understanding general capability.

Difference Differently

From the Together for Humanity Foundation, Difference Differently is a powerful and engaging resource that allows teachers and students in years 3–10 to explore the challenges and opportunities created by diversity. It provides 14 online modules in English, history, geography and civics and citizenship and includes teacher notes, Australian Curriculum links and class-based activities to supplement online learning.

Global dimension

The Global Dimension website, funded by the education charity Think Global in the UK, provides access to teaching resources, case studies and background information. Resources can be searched by a number of criteria including learning area, topic, year level and price range. Access is through free registration and you can sign up for a quarterly newsletter.

Global Words

Global Words, produced by World Vision Australia and the Primary English Teaching Association Australia, integrates English curriculum with global citizenship. It consists of four units for years 3–4, 5–6 and 7–8. Using a range of texts and text types, topics include refugees and migration, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, neighbours and the Asia-Pacific region, and sustainability.

Just Like Me?

International Needs Australia's Just Like Me? is a teaching resource for years 3–6. It uses inquiry sequences and videos of children in rural India, Ghana and Uganda to explore topics such as work, contributions to the family, travel and getting around, housing conditions, income, gender equality, education and water.

Language Learning Space

The Language Learning Space is an online resource to support the teaching and learning of the Australian Curriculum for Chinese language. It includes lessons and learning challenges for students and access to teachers in Beijing to practise speaking Chinese. Teacher professional learning materials include modules such as: intercultural language learning, using games and sister schools, and connections with the emerging Australian curriculum.

Mapping Our World

Oxfam's Mapping Our World consists of nine fun activities that explore the relationship between maps and globes, and how different projections influence our perception of the world. It is suitable for years 4–8 geography and comes with good teacher notes.

My Place Asia Australia

My Place Asia Australia is a rich resource designed for use with upper primary and lower secondary students, but is easily adapted for use at the lower primary levels. The resource is based on an innovative cultural exchange between students from Australia, Korea, China and India, creating and sharing images and explanatory information about places special to them. The teachers guide introduces the project and provides advice and suggestions for teachers.

New Internationalist

For 40 years, New Internationalist magazine has been presenting concise overviews of political, environmental, economic and human rights issues with plenty of voices from around the world, and great images and graphics. An iPad version of the magazine has recently been released. New Internationalist also produces a range of educational, fiction, food and No-Nonsense guide books, and atlases and maps. There is an online shop selling fair trade items.

Racism. No way!

The Racism. No way! website assists school communities to recognise and address racism in the learning environment. The site includes materials for teachers and students that can be viewed by learning areas, theme, age or resource type.

Reconciliation Australia school resources

Reconciliation Australia is the national organisation promoting reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community. The website provides valuable resources for developing understandings, learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, changing attitudes and developing action plans to build better relationships. There are many resources linked to the Australian Curriculum and teacher professional learning.

Rwandan Stories

Rwandan Stories is a close-up look at genocide and recovery in Rwanda. It explores the origins and aftermath of and recovery from the 1994 genocide using video, photos and stories of both the survivors and perpetrators. Lessons for middle and upper secondary history, English and geography students help students to think through the ideas and actions that either lead to conflict or build peace.. They are downloadable for a small fee.

Together for Humanity

Together for Humanity offers engaging workshops to respond effectively to differences of culture and belief. Workshops for primary and secondary students build respect and appreciation of others and help students question existing prejudices. The website includes teaching materials, videos and an online teaching resource Difference Differently, which has 14 modules in English, history, geography and civics and citizenship for years 3–10 and is aligned to the Australian Curriculum.

World of Values

World of Values is a student-centred website that explores values through personal, intercultural and global perspectives. Students are challenged to expand their world view and explore issues beyond their own perspectives. The themes of Communities (Level 1), Peacemakers (Level 2), Boundaries (Level 3), Future Makers (Level 4) and The Big Questions (Level 5) use film clips, animations and photographs to develop understandings. There are teacher guides and the option of creating flexible learning pathways.,29317.html

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