Futures of Education report launched in Mongolia
On 10 October, UNESCO launched the Mongolian translation of its report Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education at an event in Mongolia jointly organised with the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO.
Over 70 participants representing 36 government and non-government organizations attended the event, sharing their views in a series of discussions on the future of education. In addition to these in-person participants, over 60 education stakeholders participated remotely via Zoom, including participants from other government organizations affiliated to the Ministry of Education and Science, state-owned and private universities, civil society organizations, the academy of science, as well as non-governmental and voluntary organizations.
The opening remarks were made by His Excellency Mr Enkh-Amgalan Luvsantseren, Minister of Education and Science of Mongolia, Professor Shahbaz Khan, Director of the UNESCO Beijing office, and Ms Undram Chinbat, Member of the State Great Khural. Following the opening speeches, the moderator Mr. Boldsaikhan Sambuu, Secretary General of Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO, presented the first copies of the report to the guests.
In his opening speech Prof. Shahbaz Khan noted: “UNESCO supports Mongolia’s education sector medium term development plan 2021-2030 under the framework of Mongolia SDG Vision 2030, and its socio-economic development strategies and priorities. In Mongolia, UNESCO has been working closely with MoES and the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO since 2016, promoting SDG4 targets aligned with national development strategies and education master plans. Mongolia is putting together major efforts in ensuring education systems are equitable, inclusive, of the highest quality, and leave no one behind, and UNESCO is always keen to support that.”
The first session was dedicated to the outcomes and proposals of September's Transforming Education Summit in New York, and particularly in relating the highly successful side-event entitled “Digital learning and transformation”, which Mongolia organised with the support of UNESCO and UNICEF. H.E. the Minister of Education and Science Mr. L.Enkh-Amgalan mentioned in his speech that it was indeed a valuable experience and provided a much-needed insight into how developing countries can make the transition to a digital future. He highlighted that Mongolia was named as one of the five champion countries to promote digital learning. He also highlighted that the event is quite timely considering the new education package law adaptation is currently being discussed by the Parliament. Mr. Badarch Dendev, Advisor to the Minister of Education and Science also gave a presention on the outcomes of the side event organized by the Ministry of Education Science.
Ths was followed by a second session focusing on the key statements from UNESCO's report, featuring a presententation by Mr. Sobhi Tawil, Director of the Futures of Learning and Innovation Division at UNESCO, and Professor Antonio Novoa, Chair of the research-drafting committee of the International Commission on the Futures of Education.
The third session mainly focused on four thematic discussions featured in the report: reimagining pedagogy and curricula, the transformation of schools, the role of higher education institutions in the education sector, and cooperation in knowledge generation. Mr. Erdene, Sectoral head of the Mongolian National Institute of Education Research, Ms. Davaa, Professor at National University of Mongolia, and Ms. Uyanga, Harvard Graduate School of Education MA graduate and CEO of “Creative Bamboo” NGO, shared their views and proposals on the above mentioned 4 topics.
The fourth session was dedicated to the ways in which the proposals mentioned in the report can be implemented in Mongolia. Ms Nergui, Researcher and Director of “Five equal minds” NGO, and Ms. Nyamgerel, Associate Professor at the National University of Mongolia, who made the translation of the report into Mongolian, also explained the new terminologies mentioned in the report.
Finally, Mr. Damdinnyam Gongor, Member of Parliament, made the closing remarks to conclude the national launch.
The following key statements about the future of education were made by the speakers and from discussions:
- Education must aim to unite us around collective endeavours and provide the knowledge, science, and innovation needed to shape sustainable futures for all anchored in social, economic, and environmental justice. Education itself must be available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable.
- Pedagogical approaches must be reimagined so that they would give students opportunities to explore, create and interact, nurturing curiosity and interest. They also must recognize cultural and racial diversity, by encouraging students who have diverse educational histories, languages, and cultures to cooperate, and embrace their culture and knowledge.
- Curricula should be updated and emphasize ecological, intercultural, and interdisciplinary learning by cultivating learners’ problem-recognition and problem-solving skills.
- Curricula should link standard programs with problem-solving skills, innovation and creativity, incorporate the development of social and emotional learning, as well as ecological education. The spread of misinformation should be countered through scientific, digital and humanistic knowledge that develop the ability to distinguish falsehood from truth. In this regard, we must assess the COVID-19 effects on education and students’ performance, address new digital challenges such as cyber bullying, misinformation, decrease in attention and physical health.
- Mongolia has been making great strides in achieving SDG4 targets and shared some positive developments in the education sector, such as the fact that in 2022 all pre-school children were admitted to kindergarten. However, in the emerging new society, schools should not be merely a building, but educational sites that bring diverse groups of people together. School architectures, timetables, curricula, and assessments should be redesigned to enable students to work together, and to be more sympathetic and compassionate.
- In order to achieve an inclusive, just and quality education system we must cooperate with each other, develop an integrated education policy and concept: legalize lifelong learning policy, cherish knowledge and the cultural heritage of Mongolians and respect diversity, ensure inclusive participation, create a non-discrimination and non-bully school environment and management
Based on the new proposals, it was stated that the following questions must be answered to reimagine and reshape the education system:
- How to accelerate the SDG-4 goals and targets?
- What are the starting points to assure the rights to quality education throughout life?
- How to resolve the post pandemic issues, especially digital divide and decrease of academic performance?
- How to construct schools and classrooms more efficiently?
- How should we expand financing for education to ensure that the universal right to education is protected?