Introduction to the programme

Education is a driving force that powers economies and societies, while promoting a more environmentally sustainable world – in Nelson Mandela’s words, “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Individuals apply the knowledge and skills they learned in school and beyond to make their contribution to the world, particularly as citizens, community members, and part of the global workforce. In previous decades, students had to be prepared for entering a market-based economy with a major focus on life-long specialization, efficiency, and corporate profit-making. In a rapidly changing world, education systems must now be geared to developing competencies beyond those that were required during the industrial age. They need to leverage the existing digital technologies to better prepare the learners of all ages and walks of life for the jobs of the future. Learners should develop the skills, competencies, and knowledge not only to be part of the workforce, but also to be able to lead happy and productive lives in a sustainable environment. The learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with physical distancing and working from home, have reinforced this message and made the need for significant change even more urgent.

A new vision of education systems, adjusted to the fast-changing world and evolving digital age should build on the opportunities new technologies offer, as well as on the latest advances in education and related sciences, with a view to contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particular the education SDG – SDG4. It should ensure that learners become resilient to shocks caused by global risks and flexible to adjust to changing circumstances through critical thinking, adaptability, self-awareness, reflective learning, and collaboration. However, most education systems around the world have not yet transitioned to the digital age, nor are they equipped to respond to external shocks and a quickly changing and digitizing world. Vast differences in connectivity and digital opportunities exacerbating these problems for the poorer and more remote segments of society.

Central to the new emerging vision for the education system is the recognition of the transformational potential of education in helping people build knowledge, character, judgment, resilience, social awareness, and responsible and active citizenship. Revamped education systems are needed to make societies and economies more resilient, sustainable, and equitable, now and in the future. (Adapted from the COVIDEA primer, 2020).

Objectives of the education sessions at the DwP Global Summit

The purposes of the education sessions are four-fold:

  1. To catalyse action by all stakeholders and solicit concrete engagement from the public, civic society, and private sector, in support of the education SDG.
  2. To raise awareness on the need to fundamentally change the education and lifelong learning systems in response to the changing socio-economic realities and technological developments.
  3. To support the Digital with Purpose movement – by creating among companies, active in the field of digital education, a race to the “sustainability” top.
  4. To address the potentials and pitfalls of digital education.