The Transforming Education Summit (TES) was convened by the Secretary General of the United Nations to react to the triple crisis in education – the lack of inclusion and equality, quality and relevance – that is affecting students severely. During the preparation of the TES, consolation meetings were held with leaders and leaders of 163 countries, teachers and academics, civil society and youth. As one of the important outcomes of the TES, 141 countries committed themselves to act and transform their education systems and submitted national declarations of commitment.
You may be wondering how national commitments can accelerate progress towards SDG 4 – Education 2030 Agenda. In this article we enumerate the key results of the analysis of the Declarations of National Commitment, and we give an overview of the thematic areas in which countries have committed themselves to Transforming Education can be realized from a country perspective in the lens of nine thematic priorities. Nine main priority areas were identified, in which action can be taken in Transforming Education. They were divided into 37 sub-themes. The nine areas are:
Inclusion, excellence and gender equality, Teachers Content and methods, Governance and funding, Digital transformation and learning, Early childhood care and education
Higher education and research, recovery from Covid-19, youth engagement
The top priority for countries, curriculum content and teaching methods received the most attention, with 93% of countries committing themselves to transform their education systems by identifying aspects of school curricula and teaching methods that need change. Countries expressed that they are improving the circles by integrating relevant topics related to the world of work, health and physical/mental safety, as well as socio-emotional skills needed to manage emotions and relationships. While this is a huge leap that could make many education systems more adaptable to changing times, there are some topics that also deserve more attention, such as basic education and STEM education.
Commitment to supporting inclusion, equity and gender equality in schools came in second, with 92% of countries committing themselves to considering students with disabilities and special needs, as well as gender equality and girls’ education. However, discussion of measures for inclusion and equity for refugees, displaced persons and migrants, cultural and linguistic minorities, and students from low-income families remains low, being mentioned by only 18% of those who committed themselves to this thematic area.
Governance and funding was the third priority.87% of countries committed themselves to this thematic area by considering increasing and improving their domestic funding in education. In addition to funding, they also mentioned the importance of improving the governance of education systems.
Priorities for teachers and digital transformation and learning received commitment from 83% of countries. Countries have recognized the critical role of teachers in the Transformation of Education and have recognized the need for training or professional development, as well as improvement of their working conditions. In terms of digital education, countries have pledged to expand or enhance digital education by enriching content and improving connectivity infrastructure.
Countries committing to Transforming Education is a big step in advancing education systems and bringing them closer to the 2030 agenda. However, some topics need more impetus in a conscious discourse. Despite being at the heart of the TES agenda, youth engagement and empowerment remains low on the list of priorities, with only 12% of countries explicitly mentioning it in their commitments. Go to the Dashboard of Country Commitments and Action to learn more about what countries have committed to with UNESCO