As if waking from a sweet dream, Dr. Marope looks at her calendar longingly, showing absolutely no sign of slowing down. The senior management team is immediately called in for the 2016 work program planning meeting. “Oh dear! Here she goes again”, team members murmur, with a mix of excitement and concern.
For education, 2015 was a year of remarkable landmarks, sobering lessons of experience, broken promises, “qualified successes”*, and challenging beginnings. It was the end of the term for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Education for All (EFA) agenda. No question: 2015 was a year of critical introspection on what went well and what went wrong with internationally agreed goals (IAGs) and targets. Many cities hosted consultations: Paris, Muscat, Incheon, New York, and more. The international community took note of the remarkable progress in opening access to education, particularly at the basic level, and in less-developed countries.
It also acknowledged its broken promises. Consider the 6.2 million under-fives who die each year of preventable causes, the 161 million children with moderate to severe stunting who thus have a dim chance at effective lifelong learning, the 58 million children without access to primary education, the 61 million adolescents without access to secondary education, who are most likely to become multiply disengaged and excluded youth, and the 781 million youth and adults without basic literacy skills. Add in the millions of girls who have less chance at schooling than their brothers, the hundreds of millions of learners exposed to abysmally poor quality and ineffective education and learning experiences, and the many learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who are still excluded from quality education and the benefits it can offer for individual and collective development. It’s clear that, while the global community has a lot to be proud of regarding IAGs for education, a lot more remains to be done.
With perfect 20/20 hindsight, the wisdom gained from long journeys walked, and the unfailing hope on the future, we watched 2015 usher in the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and therein, the global Education 2030 Agenda. It also marked the 70th anniversary of the post-war United Nations and of UNESCO.
* The 2015 Education for All Global Monitoring Report (Paris: UNESCO, p. 43), uses the term “qualified successes” to characterize the performance of the Education for All Agenda. The figures used in the next paragraph come from this report.
The Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs
Above all, 2015 marked the 90th birthday of the International Bureau of Education: the cradle of global education as we know it today! It welcomed the new director of the IBE, Dr. Mmantsetsa Marope, and bestowed upon her both the great privilege of following in the footsteps of intellectual and education titans (Pierre Bovet, Adolphe Ferrière, Elisabeth Rotten, Pedro Rosselló, Jean Piaget) and the challenge of upholding a 90-year quest for excellence in education.
HEIGHTENING AND SUSTAINING EXCELLENCE IN CURRICULUM
With the introduction of the SDGs and of the global Education 2030 Agenda, the IBE had to define a better articulated and more strategic program over the medium to long term. After weeks of critical reflection, the IBE leadership and teams settled on six program focus areas, well aligned to the institution’s mandate and core functions. Effective implementation of these six programs will accelerate and reinforce the IBE’s Centre of Excellence (CoE) status, and will put into action its new vision, also articulated for the very first time in 2015.
Careful thought went into articulating and integrating the six program areas so they can better cohere, balance and mutually reinforce for better impact.
Innovation and Leadership in Curriculum, Learning and Assessment (Norms and standard-setting function)
- Re-conceptualizing and repositioning curriculum as central to national and global development dialogue and interventions. It is also aimed at repositioning curriculum as an indispensable tool for giving effect to policies on lifelong learning.
Current and Critical Issues in Curriculum, Learning and Assessment (Laboratory of ideas function)
- Developing curriculum frameworks, guidelines, and prototypes for areas of high demand and where Member States (MSs) have limited experience and/or areas where MSs are not making desired progress.
Knowledge Creation and Management in Curriculum, Learning and Assessment (Clearinghouse function)
- Improving physical and substantive access to evidence-based knowledge required to guide curriculum design and development, as well as teaching, learning, and assessment. This involves translating findings from cutting-edge research into easily accessible language with explicit implications for policy and practice. It also involves improving access to knowledge through printed and online documents on the IBE platform.
Systemic Strengthening of Quality and Development Relevance of Education and Learning (Capacity builder function)
- Strengthening the capacity of Member States to analyze and address critical impediments that prevent their equitable and resource-efficient provision of quality and development-relevant education and effective lifelong learning opportunities.
Leadership for Global Dialogue on Curriculum, Learning and Assessment (Intellectual leadership function)
- Regularizing and strengthening the International Conference on Education (ICE); to reinforce and reposition the IBE as an indispensable global actor and contributor in curriculum design and development; and to strengthen the IBE’s position as a global CoE in curriculum, learning, and assessment.
Institutional and Organizational Development (Capacity builder function)
- Strengthening the IBE’s capacity to implement the CoE Strategy in preparation for an optimal contribution to SDG4 and the Education 2030 Agenda and to carry out its mandate effectively.
BROADENING STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
Many hands make light work! To effectively implement the six program areas, the IBE needs the reinforcement of strategic technical and financial partners. So, the IBE team rolled up its sleeves and reached out, starting within the “house”. After all, charity begins at home.
Beyond the “house” itself, the IBE team reached out to governments, foundations, the private sector and civil society groups. Thus, in 2015, the IBE witnessed signing ceremonies and launches of strategic technical and financial partnerships never seen before in its history. “The cradle of global education” recaptured headlines in cities around the world: Geneva, Lausanne, Paris, Macau, Buenos Aires, Palo Alto, Incheon, and more!
ENHANCING GLOBAL VISIBILITY
Through their magazines, newspapers, websites, and social media, the new partners enhanced the global visibility of the IBE.
The IBE took to the stage to deliver keynote addresses across the world’s most prestigious conferences and events. It led and/or facilitated high-level dialogue in forums and platforms whose participants make life-changing decisions about education.
The IBE also spoke clearly and emphatically on the need for equity of education quality during the Incheon World Education Forum (WEF) and held the first consultations on its proposed global paradigm shift on curriculum. It also reached out to participants at many significant 2015 conferences:
IN THE MEDIA
The IBE and Google partnering towards equity of education quality and learning,
Interview with Dr. Marope on the importance of public contribution to education,
The IBE leads a side event at the World Education Forum,
The IBE launches its 10th diploma edition in curriculum design and development,
The IBE moderates presidential candidates’ debate on the country’s future education,
Read the full articles and much more at:
ON THE ROAD
The American Educational
Research Association (AERA),
The Comparative and International Education Society (CIES),
The International Symposium on Science for Education/International Brain Research Organization
Rio de Janeiro.
The Education and Development Forum (UKFIET),
The Third Google Global Symposium on Education,
The World Education Forum,
The Intercultural Diplomacy Conference,
The Global Education Initiative,
On December 10, 2015, at the UNOG, the IBE launched a travelling exhibition on its 90-year history of intellectual leadership in education. From Geneva, the exhibition will run until the first quarter of 2016, and will reach other world cities: Dubai, Hong Kong, and Durban.
IBE keynote speeches and special sessions at various events shone a bright light on its intellectual leadership. Even more, “the cradle of global education” launched the Global Education Initiative of the Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) in Lithuania.
To top it off, the IBE launched its new, exciting, and easy-to-navigate website to showcase the richness of its work. For the first time, the IBE occupied virtual spaces on Facebook and Twitter. It blogged about its fledgling initiative: In-Progress Reflections on Critical and Current Issues in Curriculum, Learning and Assessment. By the end of 2015, the IBE’s numbers of Facebook and Twitter followers had risen from 0 to 681, and from 0 to 537, respectively; and the IBE director’s followers rose from 0 to 477.
But using social media was hardly enough. The IBE put its show on the road. Under the chairmanship of Michael Møller, the Director-General of the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), the IBE briefed international Geneva on what it stands for.
Furthermore, the IBE reached out to the heads of curriculum development centres (CDCs) across UNESCO Member States and established the Global Curriculum Network (GCN). During 2015 alone, 101 countries across all world regions registered for GCN (see below). Overall, 2015 saw the IBE establish a solid platform for better things to come, while also raising the bar for 2016. Read on!