What you need to know about UNESCO’s Futures of Education report

This article was originally posted in December 2021 and edited in April 2022. It is worth reading how UNESCO envisions education in the future.

Let’s reflect on education as we look to 2050: What should we continue doing? What should we abandon? What needs to be creatively invented afresh? UNESCO is proposing answers to these three essential questions in its new global report on the Futures of Education entitled Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education.

Over a million people have taken part in the global consultation process that informed this long-awaited flagship publication which calls for a major transformation in education to repair past injustices and enhance our capacity to act together for a more sustainable and just future. Two years in the making, the Report was prepared by an International Commission with the aim of catalysing a global debate and movement to forge a new social contract for education. What does that look like? Here’s what you need to know.

What are the proposals for renewing education?

  • Pedagogy needs to move from a focus on teacher-driven lessons centered on individual accomplishment to instead emphasize cooperation, collaboration and solidarity.
  • Curricula are often organized as a grid of subjects and need to shift to emphasize ecological, intercultural and interdisciplinary learning.
  • Teaching needs to move from being considered an individual practice to becoming further professionalized as a collaborative endeavor.
  • Schools are necessary global institutions that need to be safeguarded.  However, we should move from the imposition of universal models and reimagine schools, including architectures, spaces, times, timetables, and student groupings in diverse ways.
  • In all times and spaces of learning we should move from thinking of education as mostly occurring in schools and at certain ages, and instead welcome and expand educational opportunities everywhere for everyone.

How can we trigger a new social contract for education?

  • A call for research and innovation. A new social contract requires a worldwide, collaborative research programme that focuses on the right to education throughout life. This programme must centre on the right to education and be inclusive of different kinds of evidence and ways of knowing including horizontal learning and the exchange of knowledge across borders. Contributions should be welcomed from everyone – from teachers to students, from academics and research centres to governments and civil society organizations.
  • A call for global solidarity and international cooperation. A new social contract for education requires renewed commitment to global collaboration in support of education as a common good, premised on more just and equitable cooperation among state and non-state actors. The international community has a key role to play in helping states and non-state actors to align around the shared purposes, norms and standards needed to realize a new social contract for education. The educational needs of asylum seekers, refugees, stateless persons and migrants, in particular, need to be supported through international cooperation and the work of global institutions.

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