The systematic integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education has the potential to address some of the biggest challenges in education today, innovate teaching and learning practices, and ultimately accelerate the progress towards SDG 4. UNESCO is committed to supporting Member States harness the potential of AI technologies for achieving the Education 2030 Agenda.
UNESCO’s mandate calls inherently for a human-centred approach to AI. It aims to shift the conversation to include AI’s role in addressing current inequalities regarding access to knowledge, research and the diversity of cultural expressions and to ensure AI does not widen the technological divides within and between countries. The promise of “AI for all” must be that everyone can take advantage of the technological revolution under way and access its fruits, notably in terms of innovation and knowledge.
Through its projects, UNESCO affirms that the deployment of AI technologies in education should be purposed to enhance human capacities and to protect human rights for effective human-machine collaboration in life, learning and work, and for sustainable development. Together with partners, international organizations, and the key values that UNESCO holds as pillars of their mandate, UNESCO hopes to strengthen their leading role in AI in education, as a global laboratory of ideas, standard setter, policy advisor and capacity builder.
If you want to leverage emerging technologies like AI to bolster the education sector, we look forward to partnering with you through financial, in-kind or technical advice contributions.
“We need to renew this commitment as we move towards an era in which artificial intelligence – a convergence of emerging technologies – is transforming every aspect of our lives (…),” said Ms Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education held in Beijing in May 2019. “We need to steer this revolution in the right direction, to improve livelihoods, to reduce inequalities and promote a fair and inclusive globalization.’’
AI skills for youth
This project focuses on scaling up AI development skills for young people. The main goal of this initiative is to contribute to better mainstream AI skills into training programmes, specifically in piloting capacity development of master trainers from selected national institutions in empowering youth to develop innovative AI applications.
The main project activities include:
- making curated AI-related training courses accessible to all
- upskilling master trainers facilitating the development of AI innovative solutions by young people
- nurturing youth’s innovations in developing AI applications for SDGs.
UNESCO has been developing an online repository in partnership with Ericsson. The repository will contain curated AI-related training material and other key digital skill educational resources, available globally. The objectives of the repository are to support curriculum designers to upskill in their AI knowledge, and facilitate them to integrate AI skills development modules/courses into the curriculum of schools or other education institutions; facilitate the preparation of (master) trainers; provide openly accessible curated resources on AI in education for all.
This project is implemented by UNESCO, currently in partnership with Ericsson, and open to a multi-stakeholder partnership approach.
Beijing Consensus on AI and Education
Representatives from the Member States, international organizations, academic institutions, civil society and the private sector have adopted the Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence and Education, at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education held in Beijing from 16 to 18 May 2019. It is the first ever document to offer guidance and recommendations on how best Member States can respond to the opportunities and challenges brought by AI for accelerating the progress towards SDG 4.
The Consensus reaffirms a humanistic approach to deploying AI technologies in education for augmenting human intelligence, protecting human rights and for promoting sustainable development through effective human-machine collaboration in life, learning and work.
The Consensus details the policy recommendations on AI in education in five areas:
- AI for education management and delivery;
- AI to empower teaching and teachers;
- AI for learning and learning assessment;
- Development of values and skills for life and work in the AI era; and
- AI for offering lifelong learning opportunities for all.
It also elaborates recommendations corresponding to four crosscutting issues:
- Promoting equitable and inclusive use of AI in education;
- Gender-equitable AI and AI for gender equality;
- Ensuring ethical, transparent and auditable use of education data and algorithms; and
- Monitoring, evaluation and research.
The Consensus concludes with the concrete actions proposed for the international communities and individuals active in the field of AI in education to undertake.
Fostering AI-ready policy makers and AI in education policies development
UNESCO is developing an AI readiness self-assessment framework, which aims to support Member States evaluate the preparedness level of their capacity to embrace and integrate AI technologies in all areas connected to education, at a national level. A profile for each individual country would be generated to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, as well as actionable recommendations to address their needs.
The ultimate goal of the project is to contribute to the achievement, readiness and capacity of key stakeholders of education systems of countries to leverage the potential of AI to ensure inclusive, equitable, quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. Sessions designed to build policy makers’ capacities in planning AI in education policies have been planned during several key events: the fourth Strategic Dialogue of Education Ministers (SDEM 4) organized by Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) from 22 to 25 July 2019 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; the International Congress of Digital Education, Programming and Robotics in Argentina, from 26 to 29 August 2019, Buenos Aires; and the Pan-Commonwealth Forum 9, Edinburgh, Scotland, from 9 to 12 September 2019.
This project is implemented by UNESCO, currently in partnership with MICROSOFT, the Weidong Group, TAL Education Group, and open to a multi-stakeholder partnership approach.