Challenges & opportunities
Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education in a post-pandemic era
Education empowers people to develop knowledge and skills that nurture new ideas and technologies. Education therefore is a catalyst for broader change, and critically important for driving progress towards sustainable development.
Recognising the important role of education, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights education as a stand-alone goal (SDG 4): ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. Access to new technologies should provide the education sector with the means to innovate education systems and expand the access to better quality education for all.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought these opportunities and challenges into sharper focus. On the one hand, it has given massive insights into how the role of technology can radically shift to reach 1.5 billion students affected by school closures. Rather than just disseminating content, it can also strengthen relationships between students and teachers. On the other hand, the COVID-19 crisis has also exposed deep inequities in the education system. With half of the affected students not having access to a household computer and 43% having no internet at home, far too many children are cut off from learning.
Deep dive sessions
Technological innovations for equitable quality education
Aligning curricula with the need for innovation
The pace at which technology develops today is unmatched. Technological processes learnt today might even no longer be relevant tomorrow. It is clear that curricula are no longer capable of providing the right skillsets for the future. Even if we were to change the content of these curricula right now, they would be outdated again in a few years. If we want to align curricula with the need for technological innovation properly, it is far more relevant to change the way how we update curricula rather than change their contents itself.
Digital technologies for lifelong learning
As the capacity to innovate is increasingly becoming a key driver of economic and social development, employees continuously need to adapt to dynamic and fast-changing working conditions. Occupational and technical skills are, therefore, no longer sufficient. In addition to job-specific technical skills, employees need to have strong transversal and foundation skills. These include the skills to learn fast, adapt to change and manage business. Enterprises need to foster lifelong learning, making the best possible use of what digital technologies have to offer.
Inclusive early childhood education
To ensure digital technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) provide equitable and inclusive access to education, we have to focus on closing digital divides. Even where getting online is possible and affordable, extra efforts are needed to empower groups that are discriminated against and excluded. At the same time, we should be careful not to create any new kind of digital divides when deploying solutions powered by AI. These solutions need to focus entirely on providing learning opportunities for all, including marginalised people, people with disabilities, refugees, and those living in isolated communities.
Thematic closing session
Top priorities for developing a future-proof educational system
During the thematic closing session, thought leaders and world-renowned experts in the area of technological innovation and education will debate the key findings and recommendations emerging from the deep dive sessions. In doing so, they will focus on the policy, institutional and societal actions that are needed to strengthen the social acceptance of technological innovations and accelerate their market penetration. Both matters are top priorities when it comes to developing a future-proof educational system.