Teachers, youth and education leaders call for concrete steps to ensure transformative education for all

“Education must prepare learners to navigate uncertain futures and help them create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.   But to do this, education itself must be transformed.”

(Reposted from: UNESCO.  December 6, 2021)

Education which equips every learner with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to care for each other and the planet and act for the future was at the centre of the 5th UNESCO Forum on transformative education for sustainable development, global citizenship, health and well-being.

From 29 November to 1 December 2021, UNESCO and APCEIU convened over 1600 experts and practitioners in the virtual Forum hosted by the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.

“Education should play the role of building peace in the minds of men and women of future generations and nurturing mature citizens with a sense of responsibility towards the global challenges we are facing today,” said Ms Eun-hae Yoo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Republic of Korea said in the opening of the Forum.

Launched at the Forum, the Teachers Have Their Say report showed that although the vast majority of teachers regard the themes related to sustainable development and global citizenship as important, nearly a quarter don’t feel ready to teach them.

The global survey of 58,000 teachers conducted by UNESCO and Education International found that although 81% of teachers were interested in learning more about the themes, training opportunities were not always available and half the respondents face challenges in teaching sustainability and global citizenship, typically because they are not familiar with suitable pedagogies.

The three-day discussions included ways to amend this gap, as well as focusing on how to change policy, assessment and monitoring to achieve transformative education and Sustainable Development Goal Target 4.7.

“Education must prepare learners to navigate uncertain futures and help them create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.   But to do this, education itself must be transformed,” said Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education.

The need for lifelong learning, equal access to transformative education, as well as the essential role of youth as co-creators of their own education were highlighted throughout the Forum.

“We are transforming education to shift the power. Power dynamics in schools are usually skewed against students, especially with a top-down approach and hierarchical attitudes in schools and administration.”

“We are transforming education to shift the power. Power dynamics in schools are usually skewed against students, especially with a top-down approach and hierarchical attitudes in schools and administration,” said Shamah Bulungis, Co-chair of Transform Education.

Some of the challenges and obstacles discussed throughout the three days included a culture of reductionist testing; outdated views of the nature and purpose of education; scattered, unsystematic implementation at country level; insufficient recognition of the importance of adult and non-formal education; and little consensus on what to measure when tracking progress.

The closing plenary session discussed a summary of recommendations from the Forum:

  1. Develop policies that support the integration of transformative education across the education sector
  2. Mainstream Education for Sustainable Development, Global Citizenship Education and health and well-being across the whole curriculum
  3. Enhance whole-school and widen them to whole-of-community approaches
  4. Invest in teachers at all levels
  5. Let students, teachers and other stakeholders co-create pedagogies, materials and monitoring mechanisms
  6. Develop and expand easy-to-use monitoring mechanisms that help countries to evaluate their progress, setting clear targets.

The Forum public sessions can be watched back on a dedicated YouTube playlist, which includes a wealth of good practices, markers of progress, methods of monitoring and mainstreaming transformative education to inspire policymakers, educators, youth and others interested in the transformation of education.

“I hope the momentum for Transformative Education generated at this Forum will be kept and sustained in the next years,” stated Mr Hyun Mook Lim, the Director of APCEIU at the closing ceremony of the Forum.

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