Participants discuss teaching practices for the future
During the 3-day forum, we heard from teachers, education stakeholders, experts and policymakers, including ministers of education, from around the world to further understand how changes in thinking around the purposes of learning, and the expectations for teachers in the future, have concretely impacted teaching practices.
We also questioned whether there is a universal truth on what the future of teaching will look like globally.
Through the week of discussions and exchanges, we saw that many countries are already forging paths ahead – recognizing that learners today need much more than academic knowledge, and putting this realization at the center of their education philosophy and pedagogy.
We see that the role of teachers in many countries is already transforming and moving far beyond the act of imparting the knowledge needed for academic success. Dr. Maszlee bin Malik, Minister of Education of Malaysia, was keen to note that “the future is the present [and] this means that education practices need to catch up with current and future demands of society and labor markets”.
Monserrat Creamer, Minister of Education of Ecuador, insisted that “a change in paradigm is needed to bring values back to education; living together, peace and solidarity. This can be coupled with –and not against– technological change: digital citizenship is a fundamental line of work for teachers and learners, to foster participation and motivation.”
Key takeaway 1: no one-size-fits all
First, there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to imagining solutions to these challenges.
Mohamed Elamin Ahmed Mohamed Eltom, Minister of Education of Sudan, reminded participants that “context is critical and education must respond to the needs of the country.”
The co-existence of multiple realities and countries advancing at different speeds was underscored. The challenges for teachers individually and collectively, and the teaching profession more generally, are of a qualitatively and quantitatively different nature in low resource countries compared to more advanced economies.
Displacements and migration caused by economic instability, climate change, conflicts, political crises and acute health concerns continue to cause major disruptions to teaching and learning, and can exacerbate existing inequalities in education outcomes.
Dr. Natalio D. Wheatley, Minister of Education from the British Virgin Islands, stressed that “being an island affected by climate change poses additional challenges to those already faced as, for example, 90% of educational infrastructure was destroyed by the devastating Category 5 hurricane of 2017”.
William Mushobya, teacher at Jamhuri Primary School in Kenya, explained that his school “handles a lot of refugee children who come with issues of trauma and psychosocial issues and do not match in age with those other age levels since they dropped out of schools. The school has also noticed that children from conflict areas have limited social skills and need a lot of guidance and counselling.”
Key takeaway 2: equity must be a central concern
Second, the urgency of accelerating progress towards SDG 4 means that all governments must now consider innovative and cost-effective approaches to teaching and learning that generate more equitable and immediate impact.
The education stakeholders at the Forum underlined the need for smart education and teaching policies that anticipate the full implications of emerging trends for the design of their teacher policies, the organization and management of the education workforce and education systems more broadly.
They recognized the need for clearly defined standards and guidelines for teacher education and career advancement, and access for teachers to continuous, quality, and relevant professional development opportunities.