A three-day International Symposium on Education Policies drew more than 200 participants from 120 countries to discuss school leadership, monitoring and evaluation and governance.
The symposium was held at UNESCO headquarters, Paris from 18-20 January as part of the work entrusted to UNESCO to lead and coordinate the 2030 education agenda targets.
In his opening remarks Mr Qian Tang, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General of Education, said: “The fact that this event is taking place already in the first month of the first year of implementation of the new Agenda is in itself an indication of UNESCO’s high commitment to engage with Member States in making its targets achievable.”
Public policy has a crucial part to play to help governments in aligning education reforms with Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) to promote inclusive and equitable quality education.
In view of the Education 2030 Framework for Action, the role of education authorities at central level is even more crucial in steering governance reforms as well as formulating a shared strategic vision and strategy to govern and manage their education systems.
Timely forum for stakeholders and member states
The event brought education stakeholders and member states together to debate the main findings and policy lessons resulting from the global comparative analyses undertaken by UNESCO over the past two years and draw the necessary conclusions to guide countries’ policy alignments.
The symposium also defined the role UNESCO plays in to promoting the effective design and implementation of policies in the three domains, particularly through production and sharing of knowledge and best practices, promotion of international/regional cooperation, development of normative tools, and technical support and capacity development of Member States, particularly in developing countries.
School leadership has untapped potential
The first day was dedicated to school leadership issues with the presentation of the main findings from a UNESCO report “Leading better learning: School leadership and quality in the Education 2030 agenda”, which consists of regional reviews of policies and practices to support school leadership in developing countries. Participants agreed on school leadership’s untapped potential to attain the new goals.
Participants debated the need for member states and stakeholders to make school leadership a priority in their implementation of the new agenda; the importance of developing coherent policies for effective school leadership; the need to professionalize school leadership; and the promotion of research and knowledge sharing in this area.
On day two participants agreed that monitoring and evaluation systems should have one overall goal: to improve teaching and learning, that is, what actually takes place in the classroom.
Francesc Pedró, head of UNESCO’s Section of Education Policy, said: “Governments need to ensure that, through capacity development, useful information is collected and made available so that it can be transformed into knowledge, which in turn results in wisdom that has to be translated into action”.
Governance must adapt to evolving landscape
When it comes to education governance, Megumi Watanabe, Education Programme Specialist and main author of the governance synthesis report, said: “our common and traditional approaches to this subject are at stake and do not seem to fully take into account of emerging challenges that Member States are facing. The landscape in governance is constantly evolving and no longer as perfectly delineated as it could have been just two decades ago.”