UNESCO, launched the Futures of Education initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the futures of humanity in a context of increasing complexity, uncertainty and precarity during a high level event at the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday.

The initiative aims to reconsider how knowledge and learning can contribute to the common good of humanity, said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. Speaking of UNESCO’s leadership role in education, Ms Azoulay said “Our deeply humanist DNA cannot let us reduce education to a technical or technological issue, nor even to an economic one.”

“UNESCO has an important role to play in visioning and strategizing on what should be the role and purposes of education,” said the President of Ethiopia. “This new initiative brings that global intellectual leadership into a new era. As we face the profound challenges and exciting opportunities before us, we have a deep obligation to listen to children and youth and fully involve them in decisions about the future of our shared planet”

In his keynote address, Professor Arjun Appadurai stressed that “a vital task for educators in the next few decades will be to build the capacity of the young, the poor, and the marginal to imagine, to anticipate, and to aspire.”

Educators, representatives of civil society, technology, academia and business also shared their diverse perspectives on the policy challenges and opportunities for learning systems of the future.

The establishment of an independent International Commission on the Futures of Education was announced during the launch. Under the chair of Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, the International Commission is mandated to develop a flagship global report on the futures of education for release in 2021.

The Director-General said the project would engage “a global conversation as well as a report on the future of education, drawing on the diverse and fruitful ways of learning practiced around the world, resolutely forward-looking, yet grounded in human rights at the service of the dignity of all.”

Learn More: UNESCO

Photo: Schoolchildren in Belize

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