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Back To School In A Post Covid World: 9 Ideas For Public Action

UNESCO established the International Commission on the Futures of Education in 2019. The Commission has recently created a document to assist with navigating the new educational landscape. One of the many highlights of the paper is daring to confront the role of private companies in providing resources

“Education cannot be dependent on digital platforms controlled by private companies”


Here are a few important highlights from the document.

  • Change is inevitable

  • The onset of the virus has exacerbated inequalities

  • Investment and structural change is required imminently and urgently, to minimise setbacks

  • Gender discrimination makes it inevitable that many girls will not return to school, post lockdown

  • Intelligent, intentional, collective action is required from all stakeholders (such as policy makers, educators, pupils)

Instructively, the Commission suggests requirements from policy makers and educators, including:

  • Pragmatism

  • Quick action

  • Scientific evidence for informed decision making processes

  • Requisite principles

  • Vision of education

  • Development of an updated human rights framework

  • Collaborative work

  • Collective thinking

  • Dialogue

  • Co-construction

A number of these requirements can be used by school leaders to assist with the development of their school reopening plans.  

5 Consequences Of the Lockdown

With respect to public education the paper mentions a number of consequences after the lockdown period, including:

  • Risk of fragmentation and unravelling of public education

  • Potential loss of both teachers and students who may not return to schools post lockdown

  • Parental requests for current emergency, ad-hoc measures to become lasting reforms ie the new norm

  • Parent and wider communities recognising and valuing the work of teachers and the wider education profession

  • Awareness and appreciation of the multiple roles that schools play with respect to enabling the well being of children and youth. Therefore in adding to academic learning, schools provide social and emotional learning, health and nutrition.

Concrete Steps For Action

The Commission identified 9 Ideas for concrete action today which will result in an advance in education tomorrow. A valid question may be - what is the definition of ‘tomorrow’? Will it be 5/10/15 years?

  1. Commitment to strengthen education as a common good

  2. Expand the definition of the right to education to address connectivity, access to knowledge and access to information

  3. Value the teaching profession and teacher collaboration

  4. Promote student, youth and children’s participation and rights. Includes intergenerational justice; co-constructing change

  5. Protect the social spaces provided by schools, during educational transformation.

  6. Make free and open source technologies available to teachers and students. Education cannot be dependent on digital platforms controlled by private companies.

  7. Ensure scientific literacy within the curriculum. It’s an opportune time to reflect deeply on the curriculum.

  8. Protect domestic and international financing of public education. Recognise the need to strengthen public health and social services and to protect public education and its financing.

  9. Advance global solidarity to end current levels of inequality. The commission calls for renewed commitment to international cooperation, multilateralism, revitalised global solidarity and an appreciation of our common humanity.

It’s time to reaffirm and reinforce public education alongside common good and global solidarity. For more information click on the UNESCO link - Education In a Post-COVID World

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