Starting this September, a pilot project will be initiated in four OCDSB secondary schools which enables students to pursue an OCDSB International Certificate.
This new International Certificate program recognizes those students who demonstrate a commitment to global citizenship by completing a series of three components:
Component 1: learning an international language besides English and French
Component 2: completing credits from a selection of Grade 11 and 12 courses with an international focus
Component 3: engaging actively in an international experience, which may be completed through, for example, an international student exchange or by assisting international projects locally by working for an NGO or involvement in a student organization that has a specific international focus. A final requirement involves assembling an international portfolio of the student's accomplishments and is an opportunity to showcase commitment to being a global citizen. The portfolio includes a presentation and personal reflections.
Students who register for the program will be assisted by an International Certificate Advisor in their school who is a teacher who has a keen interest in international education and who will provide support and encouragement for students as they work towards fulfilling the requirements of the International Certificate.
The benefits of this type of program are tremendous for all involved. In terms of personal growth, the certificate will encourage students to become more culturally proficient and globally competent. There is an emphasis on language acquisition and leadership skills. Academic achievement is an important cornerstone of the program, but so is the necessity of some type of international experience and engagement. The International Certificate may also be influential in assisting students to make future career choices. In addition, teachers will be encouraged to internationalize course content.
While several Ontario schools offer a variation of this kind of program at the school level, it is believed that this is the first time this kind of recognition for students who are committed and involved in global citizenship initiatives will be formally acknowledged through a certificate program at the board level. Based upon the feedback and results from the pilot year, consideration may be given to extending the program to elementary students, to teachers, and to individual schools as a way of recognizing their international engagement by promoting global citizenship in our schools.