Home Spotlight Covid pandemic imprint on International Education Day celebration, discussion on challenges likely to dominate this year

Covid pandemic imprint on International Education Day celebration, discussion on challenges likely to dominate this year

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The fourth International Day of Education under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education” is on 24 January 2022. And the world will hear a lot about what Covid pandemic means for education and its reimagination in moving towards SDG 4.

The UNESCO’s social media campaign says it all: The #COVID19 crisis had a devastating impact on learning & showed that education must be transformed to address today’s & tomorrow’s challenges. On #EducationDay, let’s remind everyone that investing in education must be a priority!

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a pre-existing education crisis. Reliance on digital technology for learning has deepened exclusion and gender inequalities. Without remedial action, better support to teachers and increased financing, learning losses and school dropout will continue to rise, reversing progress towards all the Sustainable Development Goals and depriving youth of a future of dignity and opportunity.

In November 2021, UNESCO released a new global report on the Futures of Education entitled Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education. The Report proposes answers to three fundamental questions: What should we continue doing? What should we abandon? What needs to be creatively reimagined? The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reminder of our fragilities and interconnectedness. We can only transform together, through solidarity and cooperation.

This new social contract – an implicit agreement among members of a society to cooperate for shared benefit – is grounded in a reaffirmed yet expanded understanding of education as a human right, a public endeavour, and a common good. To redefine our relationships with each other, this contract calls for pedagogies of solidarity and cooperation that treasure diversity and pluralism. It requires scientific and digital literacies to counter the spread of misinformation and divisiveness plaguing every society.

To redefine our relationship with the planet, learning must empower students with the mindsets and competences to care for it through education for sustainable development. Crucially, teachers are at the heart of education renewal. The pandemic has more than ever highlighted their irreplaceable role. Providing teachers with the recognition and professional support to collaborate and innovate will carry strong influence on the futures of learning.

Finally, redefining our relationship with technology begins with ensuring that digital tools benefit all and are at the service of all, starting with the most marginalized. The digital transformation must be steered around inclusion and quality.

Empowering teachers, strengthening financing and providing opportunities to learn throughout life are conditions for forging a new social contract. But moving education to the epicenter of transformation and making it meaningful for every person involves a political and societal shift to strengthen the public functions of education as a shared endeavour. It calls for a broad movement encompassing governments, civil society, educators, students and youth to mobilize our collective intelligence and reimagine our futures together, building on acts of courage, creativity, care and resistance that each plant seeds of hope.

Objectives of the Day: Putting a new social contract in education in motion

  • Generate debate on the essential triggers of transformations to build more equitable and inclusive education systems that will accelerate progress towards SDG 4, taking on board findings of UNESCO’s Futures of Education Report.
  • Showcase transformations in action with potential for scaling to advance digital inclusion, green competences and skills, and gender equality
  • Mobilize political will to address gaping inequalities in access and completion of education, in line with SDG4
  • Spotlight student voices on what changes and innovations they want to see to make their education more fit for purpose
  • Spotlight teachers’ voices on the future of their profession, from integrating technology in their practice to orienting teaching and learning around new skills and mindsets for people and planet
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