New publication on education and the Covid-19 crisis from UNESCO's International Commission on the Futures of Education

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The radical changes in today’s world are transforming education and learning. With the global crisis caused by COVID-19, countries across the globe had to close schools, meaning that the educations of over 1.5 billion students has been disrupted. The question of what education might look like in the future has become a central concern for everyone.

This context has underscored the importance of the mandate of the International Commission on the Futures of Education: to reflect on how knowledge and learning need to be rethought in an increasingly complex, uncertain and fragile world. 

As a result of a special meeting dedicated to discussing education in relation to the rapidly changing global landscape, the Commission prepared a Joint Statement. And, in addition to this collective voice, members also expressed individual views on how to protect and transform education for shared futures and bearing in mind our common humanity. Here is a preview of some of their key reflections:

  • We should shape our policies to have public education at the heart of future education systems” - Abdelbasset Ben Hassen, President, Arab Institute for Human Rights, Tunis
  • There will be a need to cure the separation, which has arisen from quarantine restrictions” - Aoyagi Masanori, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo
  • We face a new moment of possibility for society” - Arjun Appadurai, Professor, New York University, and Hertie School, Germany
  • There is a need for more creative approaches to education and an increasingly urgent need to generate strong ‘purpose’.” - Badr Jafar, CEO, Crescent Entreprises, United Arab Emirates
  • This crisis is an opportunity to push for a war on educational inequalities.” - Cristovam Buarque, Emeritus Professor, University of Brasília
  • When schools once again open their doors, the world will have been overturned.” - Elisa Guerra, Founder, Colegio Valle de Filadelfia, Mexico
  • Governments and citizens alike should be encouraged to demand strong responses not only in public health but also in public education.” - Karen Mundy, Professor, Ontario Institute for the Study of Education
  • We need to emphasize our common humanity, our obligation and solidarity towards each other.” - Maha Yahya, Director, Carnegie Middle East Center, Beirut
  • It’s particularly important that students have the opportunity to reflect on and shape this new digital transformation.” - Evgeny Morozov, Writer
  • We should not transform the “abnormality” of the present crisis into normality.” - António Nóvoa, Ambassador of Portugal to UNESCO
  • As the educational disparities augment other social and economic disparities, and as structural inequalities are compounded, the gaps between the haves and the have nots will grow considerably.” - Fernando Reimers, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • It will be a question of reinventing ourselves, of conceptualizing new economic models.” - Serigne Mbaye Thiam, Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senegal
  • The crisis also forces us to rethink education systems and pedagogical proposals so that we can be more prepared as societies.” - Tarcila Rivera Zea, Executive Director, Centro de Culturas Indígenas del Perú
  • Improving the quality of education world-wide therefore cannot be seen in isolation but requires improving the general quality of life as well.” - Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President, World Leadership Alliance/Club de Madrid, Former President of Latvia

The full publication Protecting and Transforming Education for Shared Futures and Common Humanity will be available soon in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. 


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Division of the Future of Learning and Innovation

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