Ms Stefania Giannini was appointed Assistant Director-General for Education in May 2018, becoming the top United Nations official in the field of education. In this position, she provides strategic vision and leadership for UNESCO’s Education Sector in coordinating and monitoring the implementation of the Education 2030 Agenda, encapsulated in Sustainable Development Goal 4.
She has devoted her career to promoting education as a fundamental human right, through the importance of language, lifelong learning, culture, freedom of expression and identity, in an effort to ensure more inclusive and equal societies.
With an academic background in the Humanities (PhD in Linguistics), Ms Giannini became Professor of Linguistics in 1992 and served as Rector of the University for Foreigners of Perugia (2004 – 2012), being one of the first female Rectors and the youngest at that time in Italy.
During these years, Ms Giannini coordinated a number of relevant international projects in the field of higher education and research, contributing to the improvement of university cooperation between Europe and several other countries, from the United States to countries in Asia as well as the Middle East and North Africa region.
At the same time, she was member of the Selection Committee of the Erasmus Mundus programme in Brussels (2005 – 2009), the person responsible for international relations in the Committee of The Conference of Italian University Rectors (2006 – 2010) and a member of the National Commission for the Promotion of Italian Culture Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006 – 2011).
Later on, in her role as Senator of the Republic of Italy (2013 – 2018) and Minister of Education, Universities and Research (2014 – 2016), she developed and implemented a structural reform of the Italian education system, centred on social inclusion and targeting cultural awareness.
Ms Giannini also chaired the Education and Competitiveness Council of the European Union during the Italian Presidency (July – December 2014), working to promote the importance of creativity, cultural heritage and innovation as tools for dialogue between diverse populations, with a view to preventing radicalization and extremism.
In addition to her current position as UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, Ms Giannini is Advisor to the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation as well as a member of the Atlantis Group of the Varkey Foundation and of RISE (Research, Innovation and Science Policy Experts).