Our world today is facing an increasing number of “wicked” problems– rising inequality, violent extremism, global warming and others to name a few. The challenge we have before us is that trying to solve our problems with the mindset that created the problems will just not work . We need innovative and out of the box thinking– and this can only come from our education systems. However, here is where we have a problem. The education systems we have now have not changed much over the past 300 years. In order to change and foster more peaceful and sustainable societies, there is definitely a strong need to re-think the future of education and re-think learning.
In 2015, 193 countries came together and agreed on 17 global goals. The uniqueness about these goals was that development was no longer an agenda for developing countries; instead the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) became a key goal for all countries. Amongst others, inclusive, quality and accessible education for all became a key goal for all countries. There was also a recognition by the community that education will be key to achieving all other SDGs. Despite this recognition, there is a serious dichotomy.
The education system we have now was developed to meet the requirements of the industrial revolution. In other words, we’ve developed an assembly style of producing educated individuals capable of producing efficiently for the economy. The question we have to ask ourselves is if this system can provide the mindsets we need for building peaceful and sustainable societies across the world. I venture to say no.
In fact, what we have right now is orthogonal to the outcomes we want – we live in a predatory system that focuses on pitting individuals against each other in the name of competition and rewards only success in areas that make financial gains, not social or ecological. The weakest are left to perish and it is the survival of the fittest. We need to reinvert our education such that the well-being of the individual and the collective is the primary goal.
In the seventh issue of the Blue Dot, we focus on Rethinking Learning. The Issue includes a foreword by the Former Minister of Education of Mali, H.E. Adama Samassékou on how education systems need to be re-looked at to incorporate personalised learning and technology as an enabler and our Cover Story, which focuses on the importance of socio-emotional learning. Additionally, we feature opinions by specialists from academia, research, policymaking and the industry on the need to relook at education systems for the future. Amongst various experts, we hear from Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education and Skills and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Anneli Rautiainen from the Finnish National Agency for Education as well as Pratik Mehta, Head of Education & Skills, Microsoft India.
Further, we present short blogs from the youth about what future education systems mean to them and we hear from Nobel Laureate, Ms Tawakkol Karman on the importance of education for peace.
I hope you enjoy reading this issue of The Blue Dot.
Anantha Kumar Duraiappah
Director, UNESCO MGIEP