A few weeks ago, we took part in the Global Education Skills Forum (GESF), a powerful event that brought together education specialists from around the world to discuss one question: ‘Who is changing the world?’ The answer, of course, is as complex as it is simple: everyone.
Here are five of our key thoughts from this fascinating opportunity.
- Teachers matter.
GESF 2019 was dominated by the subject of teachers. GESF 2019 bought together leaders from the public, private and social sectors including 1 Head of Government, 7 Former Heads of Government, 40 Ministers of Education, 297 Speakers, 124 Public Sessions, 200+ Media, 144 Countries, 2000+ Delegates, 100+ Teachers and 64 Grant-making organisations. This audience joined together to find solutions to the global education crisis the world is facing. Sessions invited teachers to share their best practice, offered opportunities to discuss teacher retention, and outlined why teachers still matter in the 21st century. We also saw the Global Teacher Prize awarded to Peter Tabichi of Kenya – a Commonwealth teacher! It was clear from our experience that there is an understanding that those at the front of the classroom are those at the front of education itself. And we couldn’t agree more.
2. EdTech has great potential, but it needs to be meaningful.
The first day of the forum focused on new EdTech and the innovations that are popping up in this field. A great panel made up largely of teachers explored what teachers want from EdTech, a key concept to consider. There was also space to discuss the highs and lows of this new technology around the world, as well as other sessions looking at empowering teachers, ‘EdTech for good’, and more. EdTech is a huge area of opportunity, but it has to be meaningful. It can be part of the solution but pedagogy must come first.
3. Start as you mean to go on.
While higher education has, for many years, had a loud voice in the education community, early years has firmly found its place in the conversation. One key session shared why the first 1,000 days is the most important – a concept long established in health but not as well known in education. We know that those who start behind, stay behind when it comes to education. It’s right that the education community gives early years the attention it deserves.
4. Education is more than your ABCs.
From sport to music to performing arts, educators from a wide range of disciplines spread a loud and clear message that we need holistic learning for tomorrow’s leaders. Learning outcomes are important and rightly valued, but a diverse curriculum with multiple opportunities and pathways for success is just as valuable. We must expand, not limit, the education in classrooms if we are to truly measure our success.
5. Inclusion is important.
As with the curriculum, a diverse classroom and sector filled with respect and appreciation for differences is key to delivering a successful future for students. From Andrew Moffat’s ‘No Outsiders’ programme to the focus on girls’ STEM education and education in crises, it was clear that focussing on and supporting all learners, in all scenarios, is important to creating peaceful, inclusive classrooms. Leaving no one behind is a key tenet of the Sustainable Development Goals – this needs to be seen both in the sector and the classroom itself.
The future of education is an exciting and dynamic opportunity. But in order to ensure that everyone has the chance to enjoy it, we must work together as a Commonwealth community to reach all learners and educators and make real change. The GESF illustrated that we are delivering just that with our Teach2030 programme – and we’re on the right track for the Commonwealth education future we all seek. Take a look for yourself at what we are doing with our Teach2030 programme to contribute towards Sustainable Development Goal 4; Quality Education.