In September 2022, the Transforming Higher Education Summit was held at the United Nations, where stakeholders committed to addressing and addressing the challenges we face. We heard again how urgent the needs are. In low-income countries, 25% of youth and just over 55% of adults are still illiterate, and 250 million children do not attend primary school.
The World Bank's State of Global Education Poverty notes shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the Taliban's ban on girls' secondary education in Afghanistan.
"Learning poverty has increased dramatically. children cannot read and understand a simple passage at the age of 10."
As the Brookings Institution points out, there is an urgent need to change education systems.
"We are at a critical juncture where hundreds of millions of children could be deprived of quality education as we grapple with climate change, worsening conflict and new pandemic risks."
In addition to the climate crisis, humanity has many serious problems: biodiversity, food, water, energy, poverty, inequality, democracy… the list goes on. Everything is interconnected and very difficult to solve, and we are facing a global tragedy of the commons. The UN's Sustainable Development Goals were created to provide a common framework and create a "common agenda for peace and prosperity for people and the planet now and in the future". But we are not on the way to achieve them.
At the UN education summit, it became clear that not all parties needed to resolve these issues are at the negotiating table. Finances and investments were lacking, the IMF and the World Bank were invited. Half of the expected leaders did not even show up, many choosing to attend Queen Elizabeth II's funeral.
How can we create a common blueprint for critical education and climate reform without involving all the major political and financial players? There is a chasm, even a chasm, between the problems we face, the societies facing them, and those capable of solving them.
A week after the summit, Arizona State University and the Earth League hosted the Global Future Conference as part of Climate Week in New York. Its mission was to identify "ambitious and achievable solutions" and to "seek to move society toward future opportunities, not sacrifices." The meeting emphasized that education is one of the key drivers of transformation, but once again there was a distinction between education and climate and sustainability factors, and the Learning Planet Institute was one of the few organizations to participate in both events.
We know that climate change education can reduce carbon emissions by 20 gigatons by 2050, which is three-quarters better than today's best climate solutions. But most modern education systems do not prepare students and schoolchildren to adapt to these challenges, let alone cope with them.
We need to quickly implement systemic solutions to engage students (junior, graduate, and post-graduate) and help them understand how to solve problems collectively. Trying to improve the system is no longer enough. the gap is too big. Instead, education itself must be radically transformed. According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, "Education should help people learn by focusing on problem solving and cooperation."
Recent reports from Rewired and the Brookings Institution agree that a number of global crises call for a rethinking of the purpose of education;
"Transformation means reorienting all components of the education system so that they constantly contribute to the realization of a common new goal.
We know what skills are needed: collaboration, empathy, self-awareness, future literacy, collaborative problem solving, critical thinking, learning and learning. Many frameworks exist, including UNESCO's Learning to Change the World program, but most education systems do not use this knowledge.
Structures for transformation, youth engagement and radical change
In practice, we know that there is a lot of experience in implementing changes in the world. In fact, through the Learning Planet Institute, an initiative we launched with UNESCO to celebrate and highlight transformative solutions being developed around the world, we see outstanding examples of programs that support confidence, learning and action. and motivation. leads to a better world. Catts Pressoir, Escuela Nueva, Dream a Dream, and Design for Change are just a few examples of K-12 programs in Haiti, Colombia, and India, but these approaches to learning are not limited to the Western world.
In higher education, many universities and government institutions have begun programs that go beyond sustainability literacy to prepare the next generation to lead the environmental, social, and societal changes ahead. These include Arizona State University's College of Global Futures, the Cy Sergi Paris undergraduate program, Stellenbosch University's Center for Transition to Sustainability and the EU Open17 platform.
At the regional and national level, we also see examples of system change adapted to local contexts; Transforming Learning for All in Sierra Leone is an ambitious, comprehensive and innovative program to improve learning outcomes, particularly for girls, students with disabilities and children. lives in remote places. Another inspiring example is British Columbia's curriculum reforms. The structure of knowledge and understanding they use:
"It respects students' ways of thinking, learning and growing and prepares them for a successful academic life in which constant change never stops."
While Singapore regularly tops the international PISA rankings, it is also known for its systematic testing and assessment procedures, which lead to high levels of anxiety and fear of failure. In 2019, they started deep reforms in the education system and emphasized that students should not compete with each other. Instead, they should be encouraged to learn, collaborate and develop creativity. Their example clearly shows the possibility of radical changes.
It is also important that we know how young people want to be actively involved. The fact that more than 450,000 submissions were received to the "Youth Declaration on the Transformation of Education" shows that young people want to participate constructively in education policy and decision-making as full partners, not just beneficiaries. Building with youth today and empowering youth is considered by Antonio Guterres as a key principle for building tomorrow. Young people are literally the future, so they should be involved in the design.
We must stop preparing young people for a world that no longer exists. Instead, we should give everyone the opportunity to learn about our shared global challenges, how to succeed, and how to participate in solving them. These ideas are not really new. In fact, UNESCO's 1972 "Education. The report "Today and tomorrow of world education" has already mentioned:
"[People] should not strive to acquire knowledge all at once, but rather learn to build an ever-evolving body of knowledge throughout life."
How to close the gaps
The implementation of these transformations is more urgent than ever, but it cannot and will not happen without the necessary political attention and adequate funding.
It is important to bring all stakeholders interested in these issues, especially public and private financial institutions focused on climate change mitigation and solutions, to the same negotiating table. Together, by bringing educational expertise together and investing in education, we can bridge this critical gap between learning and the environment and revolutionize the systems needed to meet the needs of young people and our planet.
This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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