Education Must Keep up With Complex and Rapid Change, says Director-General in Davos
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova highlighted the urgency of rethinking education and skills systems to ensure both universal access and relevant learning for uncertain and complex times during several events at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos on 17 and 18 January 2017.
“The stakes are high: poor quality education will not provide economies and societies with the right skills for a bright future -- uneducated generations will throw all development into jeopardy,” said Ms. Bokova during a special session on 17 January on “Shaping the Future of Education and Skills”. “At the same time, by 2020, one-third of skill sets required to perform today’s jobs will be new. I see this as a call to action, to chart a new course for education and development, with a lifelong learning perspective.”
She underlined the importance of such actions, notably to support and advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Goal 4 on inclusive quality education and lifelong learning, together with the Paris Climate Agreement.
She proposed five angles to rethink educational practice: how we reach the unreached, where we learn, what we teach, how we educate and how we partner.
Ms. Bokova noted that UNESCO’s new Global Education Monitoring Report publication, Partnering for Prosperity, showed relevant evidence to enrich these discussions and craft the policies needed to make it a reality for all.
At an event organized by the GEMS Foundation and Education International on the implications for education systems of the 4th Industrial Revolution, she underlined that nothing can substitute for good teachers. “We can’t oppose teachers and technology. We need to look more closely at the value side of education, in terms of making education part of societal transformation – this means education for global citizenship, for environmental protection, for living together.”
The event brought together senior policy makers including the Minister of Education of Argentina Esteban Bullrich, the Deputy Mayor of London Rajesh Agrawal, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty, Oxford University philosopher David Rodin and artificial intelligence specialist Justine Cassell.
At a separate event hosted by the Rector of the University of Geneva, Yves Flückiger and Tsinghua University, she underscored the vital role of higher education in taking active responsibility to intricately tied economic, social and environmental challenges.
Commending a novel programme by the University of Geneva and Tsinghua University to train interdisciplinary teams to tackle the UN Sustainable Development Goals, she stated that “the role of universities in crafting solutions must be approached in ways that cross boundaries to tackle challenges through innovative interdisciplinary study programmes and creative, collaborative research agendas.”
She drew attention to the UNESCO’s 155 University Chairs and networks in the field of sustainable development across the world. The Universities of Geneva and Tsinghua respectively host Chairs on the International Law of the Protection of Cultural Heritage and Continuing Engineering Education. Participants included UNITAR Executive Director Nikhil Seth, and UN Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on Agenda 2030 David Nabarro.
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