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UN unveils policy brief on transforming education towards global good

Xinhua Updated: 2023-08-07

UNITED NATIONS - The United Nations on Friday unveiled a policy brief aimed at reshaping education.

The brief proposes a set of guidelines to foster inclusive, learning-centered societies, and presents education as a globally significant public good.

At a press briefing in New York, Leonardo Garnier, the UN secretary-general's special adviser on the Transforming Education Summit, acknowledged that education is currently grappling with dual crises: access and relevance.

The brief underlines the urgent need to address the quality and applicability of education, he said.

"While millions around the world are still excluded from education, many of those who do attend formal schooling are not even learning the basics," he added, noting that current education systems are not preparing children to confront the complex challenges they will face in the rapidly changing future.

"We must make sure that every child who goes to school also learns what they have to learn," Garnier stressed.

The policy brief presents a set of key principles which countries can consider to improve learning.

The principles include moving away from a "static" model of education to a more learner centered one to foster life-long learning in societies, ensuring equality and inclusion in and through education for all, and making curricula and pedagogies effective and relevant.

Curricula must be relevant for today and for the future, with a particular focus on education for sustainable development, and fostering a culture of civic responsibility, peace and respect for human diversity, Garnier said.

Transforming teachers and teaching; harnessing the digital resolution; and investing more, more equitably and more efficiently in education, are also included among the key principles, he added.

According to Garnier, governments must abandon short-term thinking, and reframe their approach to financing of education as a crucial investment, with significant medium- and long-term returns.

Stefania Giannini, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s assistant director-general for education, said the policy brief provides a "clear vision."

On the one hand, it addresses the preexisting learning crisis, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and on the other, it clearly links the development outcomes of education, she said.

"It is about moving from a culture of reforming education systems to a culture of transformation -- not simply incremental change, but resulting in education systems different from today," Giannini added.

The brief, stemming from the Transforming Education Summit last year, is a result of consultations at country and global levels. It is grounded in over 140 statements of commitment by governments at the summit.

Giannini further highlighted that the forthcoming SDG Summit in September presents a crucial opportunity to highlight tangible measures undertaken in the realm of education transformation.

She added that this event serves as a precursor to a global meeting in 2024, which aims to evaluate the progress made since the initiation of the movement in 2022. Additionally, she shed light on the ongoing collaborative efforts within the UN system.