Building a better world means working together
Every nation puts education among its top policy priorities. But policymakers lack avenues to look beyond borders. In our interconnected world, what’s happening in one country affects us all—and tackling big challenges together while sharing big ideas is to everyone’s benefit. So how do we start bringing barriers down?
- Professor Anant Agarwal, Founder and CEO, edX
- Professor Usha Goswami, Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience, University of Cambridge
- Professor Thomas Kane, Walter H. Gale Professor of Education and Economics at Harvard Graduate School of Education
- Ms Angeline Murimirwa, Executive Director—Africa, CAMFED
A problem shared is a problem halved
The same approaches to teaching literacy can be used in England and Zimbabwe—and if we can share what works, everyone benefits. We also need to raise awareness of the real problems; for example, the barrier keeping girls out of education in Africa isn’t culture—it’s poverty. And the benefits of investing in women ripple out through communities into the wider world. When there’s a place to talk about that, we can get to better solutions, faster.
Spaces like the Council of Luminaries exist for exactly those reasons, and we need more of them. We also need that culture of collaboration to run right through education systems, from policymakers to parents.
Technology can transform education, if we use it in the right ways
Technology lowers barriers: it offers learning any time, anywhere, for anyone. And the covid-19 pandemic made it clear that online learning is here to stay. But not everyone can access it yet: we need to invest in bits and bytes as much as we do in bricks and mortar to make sure everyone can take full advantage of it.
That applies to training as well as infrastructure. We can’t just drop computers in a classroom and expect teachers and students to make the most out of them. They need quality content, and to know how to use it.
Early learning research also makes it clear how vital real-world social interaction is. Technology should support and enrich the work of teachers and mentors—not attempt to replace them.
A global, collaborative agenda can open education to everyone
The pandemic has made inequality more obvious than ever. It’s hit poor communities, already dealing with the effects of climate change, harder. Even some positive outcomes, like the explosion in online learning, have benefitted wealthier groups more.
Learners are marginalized in other ways, too. For example, around 10% of children in every society have learning difficulties based on differences in biology. Our plans for education must include unlocking their potential. And we have cultural barriers around disability to break down, remembering that access doesn’t look the same for everyone.
Education policy built on collaboration and shared expertise can level the playing field.