> Changing Course, Transforming Education
24th of January 2022
"The future belongs to those who prepare for it today." - Malcolm X
As we settle into 2022, it is difficult not think about how much our lives have changed over the last two years. Massive economic inequalities, the climate crisis, growing social polarisation, geo-political tensions and the ongoing repercussions of the pandemic compel us to consider two profound choices – either to continue on an unsustainable path or urgently change our current trajectory. Education plays a crucial role in addressing these challenges for its potential to fuel positive change.
The Covid-19 crisis has magnified already unequal access to learning opportunities. During its peak, around 1.6 billion children were affected by school closures across the world, which hit the most vulnerable children hardest and worsened a pre-existing education crisis. We cannot return to the status quo in which 260 million children global out of school.
Think about that for a moment – over a quarter of a billion children are not receiving any kind of education! Furthermore, three-quarters of the world's out-of-school population are in over 70 developing nations and according to UNICEF, around 48.5 million children worldwide are missing school because of wars and conflicts.
In November 2021, UNESCO published a new report on The Future of Education, which invited us to reimagining our futures together and develop a new social contract for education. This links to the United Nations General Assembly designation of 24th of January as International Day of Education, and events around the globe to celebrate the role of education in enabling peace and development. This date provides us with another reminder to change direction as the challenges we collectively face reach a critical juncture.
The Future of Education report offers answers to three fundamental questions: what should we continue doing? what should we abandon? what needs to be creatively reimagined? It also argues that we can only transform together, through solidarity and cooperation. It asks us to redefine our relationships with each other, the planet and technology. As the Educationalist, Guy Claxton has argued ‘the purpose of education is to prepare young people for the future. Schools should be helping young people to develop the capacities they will need to thrive.’ Transformative education provides values, knowledge, skills, resources that will enable children to develop sustainable development and the creation of innovative solutions to our global problems.
Envisioning a better future, requires the access to educational opportunities for all to help enable a global recovery. Our educational systems need to be deliver quality learning to all children especially the vulnerable and disadvantaged where ever they reside. To achieve this, will require the sustained commitment of a broad movement that includes educators, students, youth, NGOS and governments, to maximise our collective intelligence and reimagine our futures together.