UNESCO launches Futures of Education global initiative

UNESCO has launched an initiative titled Futures of Education: Learning to Become to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the futures of humanity in a context of increasing complexity, uncertainty and precarity.  The launch took place during the September United National General Assembly at a high-level event that included several heads of state, government ministers (including from Morocco, Ghana and Ivory Coast), development partners, educators and representatives from civil society, youth and the private sector. 

With rapidly changing contexts and multiple possible futures, the initiative aims to reimagine how knowledge and learning can contribute to the common good of humanity.  Speaking of UNESCO’s leadership role in education, UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay noted at the New York launch event that “our deeply humanist DNA cannot let us reduce education to a technical or technological issue, nor even to an economic one.”

Ms. Azoulay also announced the establishment of an independent International Commission on the Futures of Education.  Under the leadership of Ethiopian President Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde the commission is mandated to develop a flagship global report on the futures of education, for release in 2021.   The commission itself comprises around 20 eminent personalities and thought leaders from the worlds of politics, academia, the arts, science, business, and education, representing a range of world regions while bringing diverse perspectives and expertise.

President Sahle-Work Zewde insisted on the need to drive a collective and inclusive global conversation, highlighting the crucial need to consider perspectives from the African continent, stating at the launch event in New York: “I am very glad that there will be a strong African voice in these discussions on the futures of education. In our day and age, no longer do we allow the future of the planet to be dictated from one location. Futures must be locally and democratically envisioned.  After all, it is only through collective and local actions that the futures we want can be made.”

Looking at 2050 and beyond, UNESCO aims to hear and build on a great diversity of perspectives on the futures of education in a broad sense. Technology and ICTs and their impact on learning, training and skills development represent a key area of focus within the project.  In the words of UNESCO Director-General Azoulay, this initiative is about “a global conversation as well as report on the futures of education, mobilizing the many rich ways of learning across the world, resolutely forward-looking, yet grounded in the values of human rights in the service of the dignity of all.”

The UNESCO Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative will rely on a variety of consultation platforms and welcomes inputs from individuals, networks and organizations.  To learn more visit the website at

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