The United Nations convened Transforming Education Summit during the 77 sessions of the U.N General Assembly. In preparing for the Summit, a wide range of national and regional consultations was made in which more than 100 countries got involved, and then the Pre-Summit was organized at UNESCO in Paris on 28-30 June 2022. The Education Summit is a key element of Our Common Agenda (https://www.un.org/en/common-agenda), launched by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in 2021.
An ongoing Learning Crisis
Our education system today is in crisis. The ongoing learning crisis often happens slowly and unseen but has a devastating impact on the futures of children and Youth worldwide. The U.N. estimates that 64.3 % of 10-year-olds cannot read and understand a simple story. This means that 1 out of 3 persons cannot understand the primary text. We are living in a world of the fourth industrial revolution. However, nearly half of all students do not complete secondary school, and some 700 million adults are illiterate, most of whom are women. Moreover, global inequalities in education spending are pretty shocking. The high-income countries spend, on average, about U.S. $8,000 a year per school-age person, while lower-income countries employ a mere U.S. $50.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this crisis. Some 147 million students have missed over half of their in-person instruction since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. In 2021, 244 million children and young people were out of school. The pandemic has harmed the learning of more than 90 % of the world’s children. The crisis runs even more profound as the countries cut half their education budgets.
The crisis in Education seems to be going deeper and beyond the challenges of equity and equality. Many studies conclude that education systems are no longer fit for purpose. Education does not equip young people and adults with the knowledge, experience, skills, or values needed to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Learning continues to underplay skills, including problem-solving, critical thinking, and empathy. Employers complain of a major skill mismatch they need. Meanwhile, many adults have little or no access to affordable training and re-skilling opportunities. Teachers are often poorly trained, undervalued, and underpaid.
This challenging crisis urges the international community to rethink and transform the education system that fit the needs of young people today and future generations in coping with global challenges in the 21st Century. We cannot do our business on Education as usual.
In response to the global education crisis, U.N. Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres convened the member states, young people, teachers, civil societies, and other educational stakeholders for the Transforming Education Summit held in New York on 16, 17, and 19 September 2022.
Day 1 of the Summit (9/16), called Mobilization Day, was led and organized by Youth and attended by many stakeholders, including experts, education ministers, teachers, politicians, and civil societies. The Youth worldwide has played a crucial role in the entire process of the Summit, both at the national consultation in their respective countries, pre-summit in Paris, and the Summit itself in New York. They actively engaged in being Master of Ceremony at the Summit’s opening session, presenters, moderators of discussions, interactive dialogue, and speakers on various topics related to transforming Education. At the end session of Mobilization Day, two representatives of Youth and teachers handed over a Youth Declaration (https://www.un.org/en/transforming-education-summit/youth-declaration) to the U.N. Secretary-General.
U.N Secretary General, H.E Mr. Antonio Guteres, is present in an interactive dialogue with Youth representatives at the Youth-Led Mobilization Day of Transforming Education Summit
Day 2 of the Transforming Education Summit (9/17) is Solutions Day. It provided a platform for partners to mobilize support to launch or scale up initiatives connected to five Summit Thematic Action tracks that require greater attention and action: (1) Inclusive, equitable, safe, and healthy schools; (2) Teachers, teaching, and the teaching profession; (3) Learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development; (4) Digital learning and transformation; and (5) Financing of Education.
Day 3 of the Education Summit (9/19) is called Leaders Day, dedicated to the presentation of national statements of commitment by Heads of State and Government in the form of Leaders Roundtables. Leaders Day also features the presentation of the Summit Youth Declaration and the U.N Secretary-General’s Vision Statement for Transforming Education.
Rethinking the purpose and content of Education in the 21st Century, the U.N Secretary General offers a vision statement on Transforming Education which he considers “an urgent political imperative for our collective future.” It covers four following key areas: learn to learn, learn to live together, learn to do, and learn to be (https://www.un.org/en/transforming-education-summit/sg-vision-statement).
The Transforming Education Summit aims to mobilize solutions to accelerate national and global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The Summit launched seven new global initiatives focusing on solutions to transform Education.
These include (1) Greening Education to get every learner climate-ready; (2) Connecting every child and young person to digital solutions; (3) Addressing the crisis in foundational learning among young learners; (4) Transforming education systems to enable all crisis-affected children and Youth to access inclusive, quality, safe learning opportunities and continuity of Education; (5) Advancing gender equality and girls and women’s empowerment; (6) Transforming the financing of Education by investing more, more equitably, more efficiently, more innovatively; (7) empowering young people to be effective leaders in reshaping Education.
Two VIVAT members, Paul Rahmat and Maxwell Wullar were present and attended in person the Transforming Education Summit on 16 and 17 September in New York.