Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

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International Year of Family Farming 2014

The ‘iron buffalo’ or walking tractor is used to prepare a paddy field for rice seedlings near Sekong, Laos. Photo by Jim Holmes for AusAID

China has nearly 200 million small farms covering 10% of the world's agricultural land and producing 20% of all food in the world.

The 2014 International Year of Family Farming raised the profile of the role that family farming can play in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development, particularly in rural areas.

Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. The majority of farms with an area less than two hectares in the world in area are in Asia and nearly 80% of farms in Africa are less than two hectares.

Supporting farmers to increase production while using water and soil efficiently will improve food security, preserve traditional food products, safeguard biodiversity and protect the environment. Assisting farmers, men and women, to access finance and markets will help to increase economic outcomes and stability.

The 2015 International Year of Soils will continue this work.

Going further
Caritas primary and secondary education materials about food security, sustainable agriculture and fair trade
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Aid stories:

Food and Agriculture Organization International Year of Family Farming 
International Year of Family Farming Campaign 
Global Education website, Food security  

Islands, celebrations and threats

Funafuti Atoll, Tuvalu, 11 kilometres long and 150 metres at its widest, is at risk of being swamped by the sea. Photo © Matthieu Paley/Corbis

The 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States celebrates the unique contributions of, and threats to, tiny low-lying islands around the world.

A combined population of 63.2 million people live on tiny islands scattered over the Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian oceans. The people of the islands have vibrant cultural heritages and the islands themselves have rich biodiversity. In total, there are 32 small island developing states, and they face significant environmental and economic challenges due to their small size and remote locations.

Islands and their surrounding coastal areas are unique ecosystems, often comprising many plant and animal species that are endemic—found nowhere else on earth. Kiribati's Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in the Pacific Ocean safeguards important nesting grounds for sea turtles and threatened and endangered seabirds, and the habitats of coconut crabs and endemic plants. It is one of the world's last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems. Tourist wishing to visit must first apply.

Rising sea levels, waste management, degradation of natural resources and vulnerability to natural disasters make life difficult for people on small islands. The remoteness of the islands affects people's ability to be part of the global supply chain, increases import costs for energy and food, and limits competitiveness in the tourism industry.

Use World Environment Day on 5 June to engage students with what it means to be part of the global village. Consider how the way we live affects people around the world and how students might take action.

Going further
Australian aid
Global Education:
•    Environment 
•    Drought in Tuvalu 
•    South Pacific sea level monitoring 
•    Women's microfinance lighting up the community in Solomon Islands  
United Nations International Year of Small Island Developing States 
United Nations World Environment Day
World Bank, An information-communication revolution in the Pacific    

One bite, big problem

A poster promotes covering bins to control mosquitoes and prevent the spread of dengue fever in the Philippines.Photo by Rowena Harbridge for AusAID

Bites from mosquitoes, flies, ticks, bugs and freshwater snails cause more than one million deaths a year.

Vectors, organisms that transmit pathogens and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another, cause serious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, leishmaniasis and yellow fever. These diseases are commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical regions and in places where there is limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation. These diseases affect more than half of the world's population, but are totally preventable. 

Since 2000 the Millennium Development Goals and the Roll Back Malaria campaign have funded programs to control and eliminate malaria. They have reduced the global death rate by 45% and the incidence by 29%, but one uncontrolled wet season will quickly undo the gains made if control measures are relaxed.

There are simple and effective ways to prevent malaria: limiting mosquito-breeding areas of stagnant water, spraying around homes, preventing mosquito bites, sleeping under mosquito nets treated with insecticide, and regular testing and treatment with artemisinin-based combination therapies.

The world's fastest growing vector-borne disease is dengue, with a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the last 50 years. More than 2.5 billion people are now at risk from dengue. The World Health Organization estimates that there may now be 50–100 million dengue infections worldwide every year.

World Health Day (7 April) and World Malaria Day (25 April) are opportunities to consider how simple prevention can go a long way to make the world a healthier place for all.

Going further:
Caritas Australia, Health 
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria 
Global Education, Cholera in Papua New Guinea, Combating malaria in Solomon Islands 
Tackling tuberculosis in Kiribati  and Geographies of Human Wellbeing
Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), World Malaria Day game 
World Health Organization, World Malaria Day 

Our changing world

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is a large bustling city of seven million people, which mixes old and new architecture. Photo by magicinfoto/

The world has changed greatly in many ways over the last 20 years – some good and some bad.

To celebrate 20 years of the Global Education Project, we've put together some facts about how the world has changed over the last 20 years. The facts are organised under the headings of the learning emphases of the Global Perspectives Framework . 

Interdependence and globalisation

  • The world's population grew by about a quarter, from 5.66 billion to 7.24 billion.
  • The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 per day has fallen from 47% to 22%, but there is great disparity; the wealthiest 20% receive around half of the world's income and the poorest 20% (predominantly women and minority groups) receive less than 10%.
  • More than half the world's people now live in towns or cities, but 820 million live in slums.
  • The internet, mobile phones, tablets and social media mean accessing information about events and issues around the world is almost instantaneous, and people can be actively involved in gathering data, crowdfunding and advocacy.

Identity and cultural diversity

  • Of the world's living languages, 457 or 9.2% have fewer than 10 speakers and are very likely to die out soon.
  • Worldwide, more than 8 in 10 people identify with a religious group, while 1 in 6 people have no religious affiliation.

Social justice and human rights

  • The UN Millennium Development Goals have helped to halve extreme poverty, reduce hunger, improve the lives of women and children and increase access to water. However, there is still work to be done, and these gains have not been evenly distributed across the world.
  • The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted, after 20 years of work, by the General Assembly in 2007 to ensure the continued survival of indigenous peoples and the protection of their rights, dignity and wellbeing.
  • The International Criminal Court was established in 2003 to to help end impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Peace building and conflict resolution

  • We are living in the most peaceful time in human history; however, the last seven years has seen a notable deterioration in levels of peace. The 2014 Global Peace Index shows that since 2008, 111 countries have become less peaceful, while only 51 have become more peaceful.
  • For the first time in the post-World War II era, the number of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people exceeded 50 million people.

Sustainable futures

  • Ozone depletion has been reversed with the phasing out of 98% of all ozone-depleting substances. The ozone layer is expected to return to its pre-1980 levels around 2050.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have increased 42% since 1990. The last ten years have been the warmest on record since 1880.
  • Global investment in renewable energy, including solar, wind and biofuels, was US$211 billion in 2010, more than five times the amount invested in 2004.

Going further
Pew Forum, The global religious landscape
Population Reference Bureau, 2013 world population data sheet (interactive graphics)
The Rosetta Project, New estimates on the rate of global language loss 
Endangered languages 
United Nations Environment Year Book 2012, Key environmental indicators (PDF)
United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 
United Nations Population Fund 
United Nations Millennium Development Goals, 2013 annual report (PDF) 

Peace building

Learning about the types of landmines and unexploded ordnance is important to prevent injury and death in Cambodia. Photo by Rodney Evans for AusAID

'Peacemaking is not a sprint. It is more of a marathon.'
May El-Khalil, Making peace is a marathon 

With conflict, unrest and terrorism affecting the lives of many people around the world, the need for peace building is essential. 

When conflict breaks out lives are at risk. Civilians are forced from their homes. Courts can cease to function. Weapons are everywhere and no-one feels safe. Instead of being ruled by law, societies are plunged into lawlessness. The injustices that can follow are too numerous to count and too grave to ignore.

United Nations peacekeepers, military, police and civilian personnel are deployed to deliver security and create the conditions for lasting peace. Currently there are 118,111 personnel from 122 countries serving in 17 missions at a cost of about $7.83 billion.

May 29, the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, acknowledges the important role peacekeepers have and honours the memory of the 3,215 people who have lost their lives in missions. Since its beginning in 1948, United Nations peacekeeping has evolved into one of the main tools used by the international community to manage complex crises that threaten international peace and security. Their mandate has been extended to protect civilians who have increasingly become the victims of conflict.

There are many inspirational people, organisations and groups who work for peace, building understanding between groups and creating hopeful new futures. As global citizens we can all play our part to address social injustice and build peace for a sustainable future.

Going further
Australian Aid, Fragility and conflict
Caritas, Peace building and reconciliation, Kony 2012 
Together for humanity, Difference Differently
Global Education, Peace building  
Nobel Peace Prize laureates 
Reconciliation Australia, school resources 
Simply Sharing, peace and development app
TED talk by May El-Khalil, Making peace is a marathon (in Lebanon)
World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2014 

Poverty and food security

Women work hard in the rice paddies in Cambodia.Photo by Kevin Evans for AusAID

Poverty rates were halved between 1990 and 2010, but one billion people still live in extreme poverty and one in nine people are hungry.

Poverty and food security are intricately interlinked. Without an income or resources to grow food people are likely to become ill and to be unable to work to produce food or earn an income.

Poverty and food security were linked in Millennium Development Goal 1 – eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met by 2000 and the hunger reduction target is within reach by 2015 but there is still more to be done to make the world a fairer place for all.     

World Food Day on 16 October highlights the need to ensure that all people have physical and economic access at all times to enough nutritious, safe food to lead healthy and active lives.

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October is an opportunity to acknowledge the struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and for the community to recognise and support poor people in their fight against poverty.    

Going further