By Anna Shen
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 24 2020 – In an increasingly unequal and divided world, what role can education play to achieve sustainable development globally?
How do we unite to achieve inclusive and quality education systems? Can we transform education so that it fosters local solutions, taking into account existing cultural contexts?
These are just some of the questions being addressed January 27-29 during the International Summit on Balanced and Inclusive Education, being held in Djibouti. The summit, sponsored by the Geneva-based Educational Relief Foundation, will bring together some of the world’s most profound thinkers and world leaders on education globally; 300 participants from 35 countries — Heads of State, Ministers of Education, NGOs, academics and civil society representatives.
A few on the list include the President of Djibouti; as well as Ministers of Education from Djibouti, Yemen, Ethiopia, Guyana, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Cuba, Maldives and Palau, to name a few.
A major theme of the summit is how the global South will take the lead in developing education systems for the future. In a world of global standardization of education, and a “one-size fits all” approach, many are left behind.
Those present at the conference would say that education systems that must adapt to the contexts of their students, and not the other way around.
What strategies can be implemented to achieve the United Nations’ fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of quality education, the most fundamental human right that is critical to ending extreme poverty? What are the best practices, experiences and collaborations to share?
The summit takes place in a context where the world is facing greater, more urgent global challenges: climate change, geopolitical fragility, and increases of forced mass migrations.
The population of climate refugees is on the rise. Many of the displaced — children — are the world’s most vulnerable and fragile. The issue of refugee education, as well as how to provide it in increasingly multicultural classrooms, is urgent.
The challenges of diversity are great, especially in a world where there are ever greater technological, digital and scientific divides. Transforming education systems — and ensuring they are equitable and inclusive — requires large-scale mobilization of human, technical and financial resources.
Participants at the Summit will take away best practices and lessons learned on successful approaches: how to create inclusive education that considers diverse needs: physical, cognitive, academic, social, cultural, and emotional?
The question is how to design effective systems that consider the local communities (rural, peri-urban areas, conflict zone) and country-specific situations with regard to levels of development, religions, history, and culture.
The event will culminate with the signing of the Universal Declaration of Balanced and Inclusive Education which addresses the urgent need to enact educational reform globally. It calls for the establishment of new multilateral instruments of technical and financial cooperation, as well as support for education systems around the world.
Specifically, the declaration calls for the technical and financial resources to develop relevant curricula and train teachers.
About the Education Relief Foundation:
The Education Relief Foundation (ERF) is a Geneva-based not-for-profit and non-governmental organisation which serves to develop, promote and embed a balanced and inclusive education through policy development, capacity building and civil society engagement, amongst other activities.