1. Attitudes and values for shaping a better future

Societies are changing rapidly and profoundly, stimulating environmental, economic, technological and social opportunities as well as risks. Climate change is impacting on and depleting the world’s natural resources; economic and financial interdependencies have created global value chains but also uncertainty and exposure to pecuniary risk; scientific knowledge is creating new opportunities and solutions that can enrich lives, while also fuelling disruptive waves of change. Unprecedented innovation in science and technology, especially in biotechnology and artificial intelligence, is raising fundamental questions about what it is to be human. Data are being created, used and shared on a vast scale, promising expansion, growth and improved efficiencies, while posing threats in relation to cyber security and privacy protection. As the global population continues to grow, migration, urbanisation and increasing social and cultural diversity are reshaping communities and countries. However, in large parts of the world, inequalities in living standards and life expectation are widening, and conflict, instability and inertia are eroding trust and confidence in government and its institutions. The prolonged impact of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates existing inequalities and poses new threats and challenges (OECD, 2021[1]).

As these global environmental, economic and societal trends affect the lives of individuals and communities now and into the future, they have triggered large-scale debate and calls for international and local responses and solutions, including reimagining education and curriculum encompassing a holistic perspective – viewing learners as active protagonists in their learning and synthesising and integrating global and local aspirations (Opertti, 2021[2]). Curriculum needs to be dynamic to evolve and be transformative; it needs to be in a constant process of flux and subject to an ever-increasing range of influences and pressures.

Motivated by these changes in society, the need for rethinking how students learn in the 21st century has been championed by the OECD Learning Compass 2030, which identifies competencies necessary for students to thrive in and shape a better future. The concept of competency implies more than just the acquisition of knowledge and skills; it involves the ability to meet complex demands, by drawing on and mobilising psycho-social resources (including values and attitudes) in a particular context (OECD, 2005[3]). In 2001, the OECD Education Ministers met and issued a communiqué highlighting that “sustainable development and social cohesion depend critically on the competencies of all of our population – with competencies understood to cover knowledge, skills, attitudes and values” (OECD, 2001[4]).

Acquiring these competencies leads to desirable individual development and well-being, and to flourishing cultures and societies (Keyes and Haidt, 2003[5]). For example, perceiving and assessing what is right or wrong, good or bad in a specific situation is about ethics. It implies asking questions related to values and limits, such as: What should I do? Was I right to do that? Where are the limits? Knowing the consequences of what I did, should I have done it? This supports a holistic understanding of a competency, assuming attitudes and values are inseparable from cognitive processing. These competencies include all aspects of a competency, that is, knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that all people need for today, for the future and to become successful lifelong learners (OECD, 2019[6]).

The Learning Compass defines attitudes and values as the principles and beliefs that influence one’s choices, judgements, behaviours and actions on the path towards individual, societal and environmental well-being (OECD, 2019[6]). More precisely:

  • Values are the guiding principles that underpin what people believe to be important when making decisions in all areas of private and public life. They determine what people will prioritise in making a judgement, and what they will strive for in seeking improvement (Haste, 2018[7]) The OECD Learning Compass classifies values, and the attitudes inherent in and related to them, into four categories (OECD, 2019[6]): personal, social, societal and human (Box 1.1).

  • Attitudes are underpinned by values and beliefs and have an influence on behaviour (UNESCO IBE, 2013[8]). It reflects a disposition to react to something or someone positively or negatively and attitudes can vary according to specific contexts and situations (Haste, 2018[7]) Attitudes are made of a complex interweaving of beliefs and affective responses that influence individuals’ views on their environment, as well as their decisions and judgements, and consequently their actions (Jarrett, 1991[9]). Attitudes are also related to socio-emotional skills: interactions with others play an important role because “relationships provide the crucible out of which develops not only conscience and ethics but also self-attitudes and identities” (Heath, 1994[10]).

The terms used to reference attitudes and values competencies in educational goals can include “affective outcomes,” “aptitudes,” “beliefs,” “dispositions,” “ethics,” “morality,” “mindset,” “socio-emotional skills,” “soft skills,” “character qualities” or “virtues.”1

As defined above, attitudes and values matter in influencing one’s future because values underpin one’s choices. They are closely related to a sense of agency, that is, one’s belief that one can positively influence one’s own life and the world around them (OECD, 2019[11]). Thus, they are required for shaping a better future, i.e. to meet complex demands, and for making good decisions and judgements to ensure better lives of people and well-being of the planet.

Attitudes and values are integral to developing knowledge, skills and agency:

  • as motivation for acquiring and using knowledge and skills, and providing the cognitive and affective engine for agency (Cerasoli, Nicklin and Ford, 2014[12]); (Clary and Orenstein, 1991[13]; Haste, 2018[7]);

  • as framing the priorities for what comprises “well-being”, good personhood and good citizenship (Banks, 2006[14]; Haste, 2018[7]; Reysen and Katzarska-Miller, 2013[15]); (Killen and Smetana, 2010[16]; Hardy and Carlo, 2011[17]);

  • as endorsing and supporting societal and human values that promote social capital and societal well-being (Haste, 2018[7]; Lerner, 2015[18]; Mattessich and Monsey, 1992[19]; Wood and Gray, 1991[20]; Noddings, 1992[21]; Vorauer and Sasaki, 2009[22]);

  • for moral agency (Berkowitz, Miller and Bier, 2018[23]; Gough, McClosky and Meehl, 1952[24]; Hardy and Carlo, 2011[17]; Malin, Liauw and Damon, 2017[25]).

To shape the future we want, students need to be able to use their knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to act in responsible ways (OECD, 2019[26]). The student voice and their aspirations for their future collected from the students’ group of the OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 can be found in Box 1.2.

Many challenges of the 21st century (e.g. climate change and the depletion of natural resources; unprecedented innovation in science and technology and disruptive change; financial interdependence, growing inequalities; increasing social and cultural diversity; new challenges such as cyber security and privacy protection; and political conflict, instability and inertia) are characterised by volatility, uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity (OECD, 2018[29]). This has been often expressed as “VUCA world” as a way to reflect upon the risks and opportunities in the fast-changing society, which makes it difficult to predict the future, with the confounding of issues or fallacy of composition that cannot be explained by a single linear cause-and-effect chain (OECD, 2019[30]).

Under such circumstances, it is time to think harder and ask ourselves about what it is to be a human and support students to develop the types of attitudes and values that are inherent to being human (OECD, 2019[30]) so that they can find a sense of purpose with their own moral compass. In doing so, students will need not to rush to a single answer, to an either-or solution, but rather reconcile tensions, dilemmas and trade-offs – for instance, between equity and freedom; autonomy and solidarity; efficiency and democratic processes; ecology and economic logic; diversity and universality; and innovation and continuity – by integrating seemingly contradictory or incompatible goals as aspects of the same reality (OECD, 2016[31]).

They will need to navigate freely through the VUCA world with regards to:

  • Space: local and global as well as digital – finding a sense of agency to take action towards addressing local and global issues, traveling across digital space that cut across both local and global space;

  • Time: past, today, future – e.g. learning from the past, assessing current state today, and making sense and meaning making as well as creating new narratives for future, such as by “not only redefine our moral and ethical boundaries but also relation to others, the environment.” (Schwab, 2016);

  • Perspective: challenges and opportunities – e.g. understanding the complexity of sustainability, turning uncertainties and risks into opportunities, and creating new demands rather than responding to demands (OECD, 2016[31]);

  • Horizon: short-term, long-term – e.g. taking a long-term perspective and at times thinking out of the box, in order to reconcile trade-offs, dilemmas, contradictions, ambiguities, non-simultaneity, and non-linear processes in a constructive, future-oriented way, will be critical in the future (OECD, 2018[29]).

To ignite their agency, students need to synergise, integrate and make sense of the global and local aspirations, demands and realities – instead of treating local and global as separate agendas (Opertti, 2021[2]). Adopting both local and global systemic perspectives places the curriculum in its context and environment, and positions it in a holistic perspective, i.e. seeking to optimise students’ learning integrated into their own local environment and the contemporary world, with clear links to global issues and the world of tomorrow. For example, the concept of sustainable development is one possible answer to the tension between economic growth, ecological constraints, and social cohesion, recognising their complex and dynamic interplay instead of treating them as separate and unrelated, if not mutually exclusive issues.

While value systems vary across groups and cultures, as well as across individuals (Hogg and Vaughan, 2002[32]), some studies suggest that certain values are more widespread and less culturally dependent than previously thought, but are manifested differently in different societies (Cline and Necochea, 1996[33]; Leming, 1994[34]).

At the global level, international bodies have been identifying human values, meaning societal values commonly found across countries, as integral to individual and social well-being since the middle of the 20th century (e.g. human dignity, equality, freedom, justice and peace). The importance of developing broad human and societal attitudes and values through education is increasingly discussed in international forums. For example, during the last decades, the world witnessed increasing cases of international and internal conflicts within and across countries, such as global terrorism and threats to social cohesion. The need to promote peace has become a global policy, as well as an educational, goal. The OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 (Education 2030) project considers children’s rights as an integral part of the human values for human dignity associated with the concept of “student agency/child agency” suggested in the OECD Learning Compass ( (OECD, 2019[30]);Box 1.3).

At the national or jurisdictional level, a number of countries/jurisdictions embed universally recognised values in their national curriculum that are deemed to help build a better future based on the well-being of individuals, communities and the planet (OECD, 2019[36]). Future-oriented approaches, addressing global challenges and how to embed values into curriculum often draw upon cultural and societal traditions at the design stage. Values related to notions of respect, cultural diversity, personal and social responsibility, tolerance and integrity appear, increasingly, in revised curricula, and these approaches will be highlighted further in the section on how countries/jurisdictions compare (OECD, 2019[37]).

Following the United Nations Charter signed in 1945, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, set common standards of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It stated fundamental human rights to be universally protected based on the recognition of the values to be shared and respected worldwide: human dignity, equality, freedom, justice and peace (United Nations, 1945[38]; United Nations, 1948[39]). Other UN instruments have followed the way paved by these first documents including the United Millennium Declaration (2000[40]) to reaffirm the “faith in the Organization and its Charter as indispensable foundations of a more peaceful, prosperous and just world”.

The OECD Education 2030 project collaborates with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with regards to the Sustainable Development Goals, 4.7 in particular, on global citizenship and education for sustainable development, as well as the UNESCO International Bureau of Education (IBE) on curriculum development. For example, Education 2030 curriculum analyses recognised the need to strengthen literacy for sustainable development and global understanding (also labelled global competency, global citizenship, and democratic citizenship), and highlighted the role that attitudes and values play in people’s behaviours and competency development. The analyses included global competency and literacy for sustainable development as part of the curriculum content mapping (CCM) exercise (OECD, 2020[41]; OECD, 2020[42]).

The PISA global competence framework 2018 explored how to support the quality, equity and effectiveness of educational systems to create a shared respect for human dignity (OECD, 2019[37]). The Council of Europe Competence Framework for Democratic Culture – originated at the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in 2013 – presents a set of material for education systems to equip young people with competencies to defend values such as "human rights, democracy and the rule of law, to participate effectively in a culture of democracy, and to live peacefully together with others in culturally diverse societies" (Council of Europe, 2013[43]).

The leaders of G7 met in Ise-Shima, Japan, on 26 and 27 May 2016 (Consilium, 2016[44]) to address major global economic and political challenges such as escalated geo-political conflicts, increasing refugee flows and terrorism. They pledged to collectively tackle threats to international order as well as common values and principles for all humanity such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. They renewed a commitment to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The table below summarises the types of values articulated by international bodies in frameworks, goals and declarations, in chronological order.

Across these international instruments, common threads emerge as to the importance given to particular values and attitudes across countries/jurisdictions, although the terminology used to articulate values and attitudes is not identical. Human dignity, respect, equality, justice, responsibility, global-mindedness, cultural diversity, freedom, tolerance and democracy are aspirational values cited for citizens, across countries, authorities and international bodies. These values shape shared futures built on the well-being of individuals, communities and the planet (OECD, 2019[30]).

The value of respect includes respect for self, others, cultural diversity and intercultural understanding, and the environment. Studies show that self-respect improves academic outcomes (Rosenberg et al., 1995[48]) Respect also improves societal relations such as valuing others, which is essential for forming close relationships.

The values of equality and social equity are significant in that low inequality is a strong predictor of democratic stability (Anderson and Singer, 2008[49]). Income equality is associated with greater child well-being, more trust, less mental illness, less drug use, greater life expectancy, lower infant mortality, less obesity, higher educational performance, and less homicide (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009[50]). Valuing equality helps people to understand the situation of people of different social status and of people who are suffering from inequality as well as to take responsibility to reduce inequality (Reysen and Katzarska-Miller, 2013[15]).

Research suggests that integrity is associated with equity and equality (Lippman et al., 2014[51]). Justice is also closely related to equality; in order to make just decisions, an individual must consider the ways in which equality and equity are achieved for all (Lerner, 2015[18]). The value of equality helps us to take responsibility to reduce inequality (Reysen and Katzarska-Miller, 2013[15]). Justice is also integral to individual and social well-being. Valuing justice has been found to increase tolerance and reduce prejudice across ages (Killen and Smetana, 2010[16]). The development of justice values is considered to be an important bridge between moral judgement and moral action to protect the rights of others (Hardy and Carlo, 2011[17]) and necessary for promoting positive intergroup relations across cultures (Lerner, 2015[18]). Adolescents who have a sense of justice also exhibit prosocial behaviours (e.g. helping, co-operating, sharing), which in turn are associated with academic achievement and school success (Caprara et al., 2000[52]; Jones, Greenberg and Crowley, 2015[53]; Wentzel, 1991[54]).

Values and attitudes can become part of curriculum implemented in schools and, consequentially, reflect the desired nature of future citizens, as well as of the society they will shape. To do so requires “explicitly recognising the importance of values as part of a holistic education” and “deliberately fostering a set of values – as part of broader competencies – to support and guide students in navigating an uncertain future” (OECD, 2019[30]).

Curricula or curriculum subjects are rarely value-neutral (Sutrop, 2015[55]). Indeed, most national curricula are built on a set of shared values (OECD, 2020[42]), which often represent universal human and/or culture-specific values, although countries/jurisdictions vary considerably as to the extent to which these are explicitly stated in the curriculum. Choices that countries/jurisdictions make are very much context-specific, and there is, therefore, contestation and debate as to the specificity, nature and place of values in curriculum design.

The inclusion of values in curriculum redesign requires a clear decision-making process to identify and select shared values that support the overall mission and goals of the curriculum – which values and whose values – to include or exclude and how to balance these choices in the context of a multicultural society with evolving value systems (Kirschenbaum, 1976[56]). A number of countries/jurisdictions, in responding to the OECD‘s Policy Questionnaire, emphasised the importance of alignment across consultations processes, consensus-building strategies, educational goals and curriculum framework design. In Australia, British Columbia (Canada), Brazil and Viet Nam, for example, consultation with diverse social and political influencers on the competencies to be identified as part of curriculum design strengthened acceptance of the identified values and attitudes.

Countries/jurisdictions present a multidimensional context for embedding values: for instance, the desire to foster individuals’ holistic development (personal); the need to preserve and cultivate respect for one’s own and others’ cultural traditions and identity (social); the need to ensure social cohesion in increasingly pluralistic societies (societal); and commitment to universal goals that promote protection of humankind and the planet (human) (see Box 1.1).

Which values are chosen for inclusion in curriculum, how they are selected and whose values are prioritised vary considerably across countries/jurisdictions (Table 1.2). Social, economic, cultural and historical contexts drive why and how countries encourage their education systems to foster the holistic development of their students through a set of values explicitly designated in curriculum. The following cases illustrate the point:

  • The curriculum of Korea includes values to align with Hongik Ingan, the founding spirit of the first kingdom in Korea, "contributing to the overall benefit of humankind".

  • The values curriculum in Scotland reflects the motto inscribed on the mace of the Scottish Parliament, "Wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity”, which are the defining values for Scottish democracy.

  • In Australia2, curriculum values aim to develop personal and social capability, ethical and intercultural understanding; but also, to provide advice on student diversity, and develop knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures as a cross-curriculum priority.

  • The curriculum of British Columbia (Canada) foregrounds First Peoples’ knowledge and perspectives and highlights these throughout all areas of learning, to provide students with an opportunity to develop empathy, respect, and good citizenship.

  • In Norway, according to the ILO Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, the Sámi have status as an Indigenous people. The Norwegian Constitution lays down the principle that the central authorities must make it possible for the Sámi to protect and develop the Sámi languages, culture and societal life, a principle that is addressed in the Education Act. The core curriculum also applies to the Sámi school, which is used to designate education and training that follows a parallel and equal Sámi curriculum. The Sámi curriculum applies in the municipalities that are part of the administrative area for Sámi languages. The same curriculum also applies to pupils who have the right to be taught in one of the Sámi languages in the rest of Norway, who follow the Sámi curriculum in the Sámi subject. The core curriculum states that “School shall give pupils historical and cultural insight that will give them a good foundation in their lives and help each pupil to preserve and develop her or his identity in an inclusive and diverse environment. […] Christian and humanist heritage and traditions are an important part of Norway’s collective cultural heritage and have played a vital role in the development of our democracy. Sámi cultural heritage is part of Norway’s cultural heritage. Our shared cultural heritage has developed throughout history and must be carried forward by present and future generations. The teaching and training shall ensure that the pupils are confident in their language proficiency, that they develop their language identity and that they are able to use language to think, create meaning, communicate and connect with others. Language gives us a sense of belonging and cultural awareness. In Norway, Norwegian and the Sámi languages, South Sámi, Lule Sámi and North Sámi, have equal standing.” (Utgannings-direktoratet, 2021[57]) The curriculum also aims at giving all learners insight into the Indigenous Sámi people’s history, culture, societal life and rights; learners shall learn about diversity and variation in Sámi culture and societal life.

  • The National Curriculum of New Zealand is comprised of: Te Whāriki (early childhood curriculum), The New Zealand Curriculum (English medium years 1-13) and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (Māori medium years 1-13). Te Whāriki, integrates kaupapa Māori concepts (Māori values and philosophy) affirming the identities, languages, and cultures of all children, whānau3, teachers, and communities from a strong bicultural foundation. Values such as community and participation for the common good; ecological sustainability, respect for selves, others, and human rights are expressed in the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). In Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMOA), learners understand the values of their whānau, hapū4 and iwi5, and gain access to Te Ao Māori (the Māori world). They learn to be respectful of the mana6 and spirituality of each person and each whānau, and their attitudes and values, even if these differ from their own. The NZC is currently undergoing a refresh, which will include determining whether the current values are bicultural, inclusive, clear and easy to use.

  • Czech Republic refers specifically to equity for women and men.

  • Estonia references “respect for mother tongue and culture” and “environmental sustainability”.

  • From September 2020, Italy has included 30 hours of climate change education as part of the school curriculum, putting the value of sustainability and environmental concerns at the centre of education.

  • In the Netherlands, curriculum values nurture students’ respect for diversity in an increasingly pluralistic society: “taking care of one’s self and others’ physical and mental health; social self-reliance; respect for common values and norms; inclusion; citizenship, respect for religious diversity, cultural diversity, sexual diversity, differences in beliefs and attitudes, and criticism of one’s own opinions; taking care of the environment, democratic and political awareness”.

  • The curriculum of Portugal includes the values of freedom, responsibility, integrity, citizenship and participation. These reflect the desire to enable all young people’s personal fulfilment through the development of character and citizenship, to provide students with the tools to reflect on spiritual, aesthetic, moral and civic values, balanced with physical development. Embedding these values in the curriculum prepares future adults to be responsible citizens: to develop equality in their interpersonal relationships, to respect human rights and individual differences, and to advance democratic citizenship.

  • Czech Republic makes a reference to “principles and basic norms of European integration as the basis for peaceful cohabitation”.

  • In Estonia, the early phase of the national curricula development process ensured the framework reflected significant social values specified in the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and key documents of the European Union. The process of selecting values was supported by interdisciplinary research and facilitated discussions by the Centre for Ethics at the University of Tartu.

  • In Finland, the values described in National Core Curriculum for Basic Education (2014) were defined in the early phase of the development process. Values were identified in national legislation and international obligations and declarations: The Constitution of Finland, Basic Education Act (well-being of pupils); Non-Discrimination Act, the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child and UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities, as well as by extensive consultation with stakeholders, including education providers and the general public.

Despite these differences, there is a certain degree of commonality across countries/jurisdictions (Table 1.3). Shared values are important for strengthening and renewing trust in institutions, among communities and in building inclusive, fair, and sustainable economies and societies. The curricula of countries/jurisdictions in this study reflect such shared values, the most common being: respect (73% of countries/jurisdictions), cultural diversity (67%), and personal and social responsibility (67%), tolerance (54%) and integrity (43%). These personal social values are closely aligned to competencies in the OECD Learning Compass 2030 (OECD, 2019[30]).

Box 1.4 illustrates how curriculum can support certain attitudes and values, such as personal and social responsibility, rooted in the authentic sense of student agency, within and outside school. Box 1.5 illustrates how curriculum can support student agency towards fairness, impartiality, and social justice.

As defined earlier, attitudes and values are an integral part of competencies. The kinds of attitudes and values that comprise a specific competency will become clearer if we explore specific research on how such attitudes and values are associated with the development of such a competency, and to also explore implications for policy and practice for developing attitudes and values through curriculum and learning activities.

For this purpose, “global competency” and “media literacy” are illustrated below as examples of competencies for the future. They are often understood as an “integrated ability”, which goes beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines. Other examples explored in the OECD E2030 project include digital literacy/ICT literacy, data literacy, environmental literacy/literacy for sustainable development, financial literacy, coding/programming/computational thinking, and entrepreneurship. This is one of the key features of a 21st century competency-based curriculum, i.e. the learning of knowledge and the cultivation of abilities, attitudes and values should not be desegregated. (OECD, 2020[41]).

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 survey looked into how well-prepared students are to become global citizens with intercultural attitudes and values. The PISA Global Competence is defined as a multidimensional capacity that encompasses the ability to: i) examine issues of local, global and cultural significance; ii) understand and appreciate the perspectives and worldviews of others; iii) engage in open, appropriate and effective interactions across cultures; and iv) take action for collective well-being and sustainable development (OECD, 2019[37]).

This conceptual framework relies on knowledge, skills, attitudes and values relevant to the OECD 2030 Learning Compass Framework vision and principles, such as the capacity to take an active part in conflict management and resolution; being adaptable; showing openness and respect; and having agency regarding global issues (i.e. that one is a citizen of the world with commitments and obligations towards the planet and others, irrespective of their particular cultural or national background) (OECD, 2020[58]).

PISA 2018 investigated the correlations between five indices related to living together in an interconnected world: 1) perspective taking, 2) respect for people from other cultures, 3) attitudes towards immigrants, 4) cognitive adaptability and 5) interest in learning about other cultures. While most indices tended to be positively associated, some are more strongly correlated than others. Figure 1.1 presents the average correlation coefficient between pairs of these five indices. On average across OECD countries, the strongest correlations were between the index of perspective taking and the indices of cognitive adaptability (correlation coefficient of 0.45). The weakest correlations were observed between attitudes towards immigrants, on the one hand, and cognitive adaptability and perspective taking, on the other. Attitudes towards immigrants were found to be correlated with respect for people from other cultures (0.38) (OECD, 2020[58]).

Living in an interconnected world with cultural diversity, respect for others and intercultural understanding necessarily include showing respect to people who are perceived to have different cultural affiliations or different opinions and beliefs, even if it does not imply agreement with the others’ views and beliefs. PISA 2018 asked students the extent to which they respect people from other countries. The index of respect for people from other cultures was derived from responses to the following statements:

  • “I respect people from other cultures as equal human beings”;

  • “I treat all people with respect regardless of their cultural background”;

  • “I give space to people from other cultures to express themselves”;

  • “I respect the values of people from different cultures”;

  • “I value the opinions of people from different cultures”.

Positive values in this index indicate that students reported greater respect for people from other cultures than the average student across OECD countries. (Figure 1.2). Students’ responses to the five statements about respect for people from other cultures varied substantially across countries. On average across OECD countries, about 82% of students reported that they respect people from other cultures as equal human beings and 81% reported that they treat all people with respect regardless of their cultural background. Slightly fewer students reported that they respect the values of people from different cultures (79%), that they give space to people from other cultures to express themselves (78%) and that they value the opinions of people from different cultures (78%) (OECD, 2020[58]) (Figure VI.3.5).

Intercultural and global learning can influence students’ attitudes, values and actions, depending on their design and implementation as learning activities.

For example, PISA data reflected strong associations with interest in learning about other cultures, awareness of global issues, agency regarding global issues, self-efficacy regarding global issues, cognitive adaptability and perspective taking (Figure 1.3). Schools and teachers should be encouraged to develop and implement activities that enhance students' cultural understanding as well as values and attitudes necessary to evolve in this globalised multicultural world (OECD, 2020[58]). An example of service learning and a collaborative experience for intercultural understanding can be found in Box 1.6.

PISA results also suggest that values and attitudes have an impact on students’ cognitive skills. Indeed, positive intercultural attitudes and dispositions, combined with knowledge of global issues, are likely to translate into greater cognitive skills and a heightened capacity to take action for collective well-being and sustainable development. A corollary is also true – highly developed global and intercultural understanding can translate into more positive attitudes and dispositions. If this association is attenuated after accounting for students’ and schools’ socio-economic profile, it remains both positive and significant in almost all countries and economies (OECD, 2020[58]).

When looking at evidence from countries targeting global competency in lower secondary education, the interdisciplinary potential of this competency in the curriculum becomes clear with humanities being fairly prominent as a natural learning area for global competency development in all countries with available data (Figure 1.4). Albeit cross-country variations on the proportion of curriculum content items targeting this competency exist, the findings also suggest that there is room for some countries to further explore the inclusion of global competency in the national language curriculum as well. Some of the good examples of such practices suggest that such learning is connected to authentic learning through issues from the real world outside school (Box 1.6).

Media literacy is defined as the ability to access, analyse and critically evaluate media messages (Buckingham, 2007[59]; Kellner and Share, 2005[60]), for which certain types of attitudes and values are essential for ensuring individual and social well-being in 2030. For example, social media, online networks and interactive technologies have changed young people's interactions with others and their perceptions of their environment. Today’s students are both consumers and creators of media (Kellner and Share, 2005[60]; Hobbs, 1998[61]). An unprecedented amount of information and online content, social networks can pose risks to young people, including exposure to harmful or inappropriate content, lack of awareness about how online behaviour can affect others and a dependence on the Internet or social networking that can lead to disconnection from the real world.

Cultivating students’ skills with a certain attitudes and values in intercultural communication can help mitigate these risk and help students to capitalise on digital spaces, better understand the world they live in and responsibly express their opinions online (OECD, 2020[58]). Students need to consider the many interconnections and inter-relations between seemingly contradictory or incompatible ideas, logic and positions, and consider the results of actions from both short- and long-term perspectives (OECD, 2019[30]). Being equipped with media literacy, students can also prevent risky behaviours (Jeong, Cho and Hwang, 2012[62]).

The OECD Education 2030 Curriculum Content Mapping (CCM) study defines media literacy as “the ability to think critically and analyse what one reads in the media, including social media and news sites. This includes recognising ‘fake news’ or the ability to distinguish what is true from what is not, as well as to be able to assess, evaluate and reflect on the information that is given in order to make informed and ethical judgements about it” (OECD, 2020[63]).

To make informed and ethical judgements, students will need not only knowledge about media, awareness about the influence of the media, and critical thinking skills (e.g. to discern “fake news”, risks of manipulation and bias, possibly to be accelerated through the use of artificial intelligence), but also attitudes and values such as respect for others (e.g. conscience to avoid negative consequences for others of one’s action of online posting), respect for one’s own well-being (e.g. protect one’s healthy sleep patterns and duration or healthy eating habits against excessive social media use or addiction) (OECD, 2021[64]), and responsibility and Integrity (e.g. adherence to strong moral and ethical principles to fight against cyberbullying), etc. These attitudes and values are crucial to navigate oneself to make responsible judgements in an interconnected, diverse and fast-changing world of media.

It is important to recognise that media literacy is closely linked with other literacies (e.g. data literacy, digital literacy, information literacy, scientific literacy, statistical literacy and computational literacy). Recognising its multifaceted nature that covers abroad range of disciplines (OECD, 2019[26]), policy makers increasingly embed media literacy in curricula. They often highlight it as the ability to analyse and reflect critically on the validity and veracity of media content, perspectives and views. For example, it is embedded in over 50% of the curriculum in each of Korea (51%) and Estonia (57%), and to a lesser extent in the curricula of all other countries/jurisdictions participating in the study (4% in Portugal to 37% in Lithuania) (Figure 1.5).

With regards to the subject areas, it is embedded in the national language subject in the curricula of nearly all countries/jurisdictions (the highest percentages: 19% in Korea, 18% in Kazakhstan, 17% in Lithuania and Estonia), followed by Humanities, Technologies and Science. In British Columbia (Canada), media literacy is embedded more in Mathematics than any other subject (17%).


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← 1. The various descriptions countries and jurisdictions include in student profile statements demonstrate these differences. For example, Chile, Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, China, Russia and Singapore all mention “moral character” and/or “moral principles” as contributing characteristics in student profiles; Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Argentina, Costa Rica, India and Kazakhstan all include developing “ethical” skills as part of their teaching and learning goals (data from the OECD Education 2030 Policy Questionnaire on Curriculum Redesign, item

← 2. Coding for the data tables and narrative was done in relation to a previous version (version 8.4) of the Australian Curriculum.

← 3. Whānau is often translated as ‘family’, but its meaning is more complex. It includes physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions and is based on whakapapa. Whānau can be multi-layered, flexible and dynamic. Whānau is based on a Māori and a tribal world view. It is through the whānau that values, histories and traditions from the ancestors are adapted for the contemporary world.” (Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 2017[65])

← 4. The most significant political unit in pre-European Māori society was the hapū. Hapū ranged in size from one hundred to several hundred people, and consisted of a number of whanau (extended families). Hapū controlled a defined portion of tribal territory. Ideally, territory had access to sea fisheries, shellfish beds, cultivations, forest resources, lakes, rivers and streams. Many hapū existed as independent colonies spread over a wide area and interspersed with groups from other iwi. This pattern of land use could give rise to a web of overlapping claims. Ruling families and their leaders mediated some disputes over land, and others were resolved through intermarriage, but failure to reconcile competing claims could lead to conflict. The viability of a hapū depended on its ability to defend its territory against others; in fact the defence of land was one of its major political functions.” (New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Manatu Taonga, 2005[66])

← 5. “The largest political grouping in pre-European Māori society was the iwi (tribe). This usually consisted of several related hapū (clans or descent groups). The hapū of an iwi might sometimes fight each other, but would unite to defend tribal territory against other tribes. Iwi-tūturu (the homeland tribe) or tino-iwi (the central tribe) were groups living in a long-held location. They would take their name from a founding ancestor. Iwi-nui or iwi-whānui (the greater tribe) were groups tracing descent from the founding ancestor of the iwi-tūturu. They were often widespread and lived alongside people from other iwi.” (New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Manatu Taonga, 2005[66])

← 6. Mana refers to an extraordinary power, essence or presence. This applies to the energies and presences of the natural world. There are degrees of mana and our experiences of it, and life seems to reach its fullness when mana comes into the world (New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Manatu Taonga, 2017[67]).

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