The Futures of Education: A New Initiative From UNESCO

On September 25, 2019, UNESCO held a special session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to announce the establishment of an independent International Commission called the Futures of Education. Under the chair of Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde, the International Commission is mandated to develop a flagship global report on the futures of education for release in 2021. The initiative focuses on futures in the plural to recognize the diverse ways that learning happens around the world.

Depending upon our context, the futures that await us will vary greatly as influenced by continuing inequalities and social fragmentation around the world. Also, climate change, advances in technologies, and political extremism are all factors that pose challenges to the realization of a desirable future for many. UNESCO views the renewable resources of knowledge and learning as humanity’s best response to these challenges and best hope for contributing to the global common good.

The Futures of Education initiative will employ evidence-based trend analysis and participatory mechanisms to “tap the visions and aspirations of a wide range of stakeholders under the understanding that innovation and ownership of the future need to be locally anchored as well as globally discussed.” Guided by a high-level International Commission of thought-leaders from diverse fields and different regions of the world, the open consultative process will involve youth, educators, civil society, governments, business, and other stakeholders.

In November 2021, the commission will publish a report designed to share a forward-looking vision of what education and learning might yet become and offer a policy agenda.

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