A three-day International Symposium on Education Policies opened at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris with a focus on school leadership

The first day of the symposium held from 18-20 January, 2016 brought together more than 150 participants from more than one hundred countries to examine school leadership issues with evidence from both high performing and developing countries.

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, were presented and discussed. Participants agreed on school leadership’s untapped potential for attaining the 2030 education agenda targets.

The main recommendations from the report, which points out at global trend towards reinforcing school leadership, were also shared with the participants, including 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 professionalise school leadership; and the promotion of research and knowledge sharing in this area.

“The International Symposium on Education Policies for 2030 is the first activity organised by UNESCO Headquarters to contribute to reinforce the capacities of Member States to unfold the Framework for Action, and is a great opportunity for member states and stakeholders to engage in a fruitful discussion on how school leadership, monitoring and evaluation systems, and governance can play a key role in the achievement of the new Sustainable Development Goals,” said Mr Qian Tang, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General of Education, at his welcoming address to the event’s participants. “The fact that it 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.”

Each day of the symposium is dedicated to a theme; school leadership, monitoring and evaluation of education, and governance in education.

“The 2030 education agenda places a strong emphasis on quality, inclusiveness and equity, and the symposium is an opportunity to discuss which public policies can best help governments to reach the suggested goals,” said Francesc Pedró, head of UNESCO’s Section of Education Policy and organizer of the symposium.

Presentations, panels and debates will be informed by three UNESCO reports featuring the main findings of a comparative analysis of public policies in the three domains carried out over the past two years.

The reports monitor:

  • School Leadership: Head teachers and those who have responsibility at an institutional level in schools are untapped potential which can be used to promote pedagogical change. However, in order to do so a new form of pedagogical leadership is needed;
  • Evaluation: The variables and factors that optimize leaning cannot be simply derived from results. Promoting quality necessitates a full system-wide approach to monitoring and evaluation that goes beyond the mere qualification of student learning outcomes;
  • Governance: Governance must be reinforced as traditional governmental approaches to education face an increasing number of challenges ranging from privatization to internationalization.

The symposium serves as a forum for Member States to learn from each other’s approaches and strategies and will aim to draw conclusions to help countries to align policy with the Education 2030 Framework for Action.