The Time to Act is Now: We Need New Narratives to Recreate the Purpose of Learning

Leonora Dowley, Head of Partnerships, #LearningPlanet

Since its launch in January 2020, the #LearningPlanet Festival has been dedicated to the celebration of learning on – and around – the United Nation’s International Day of Education (24 January). This article underlines the urgency for new education narratives, and reflects on the recent #LearningPlanet Festival. 

An excerpt from #LearningPlanet’s Clarion Call to Change Course and Transform Education

UNESCO has recently published a global Futures of Education report, ‘Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education’. The report has once again identified the need for a worldwide collaborative agenda, in which everyone is invited to contribute and effect real-world change in their communities, countries and regions.

A new epoch of disruption of hyper change has demonstrated a rising call for alternative visions of ‘success’, as new perspectives and metrics emerge from disciplines spanning philosophy, social science, and economics, and standpoints including social entrepreneurs, businesses, youth, activists. These voices are joined by education leaders, teachers, parents, industry leaders and students with their clarion call for a revolution of values and action. Knowledge and learning are the basis for resilience and transformation and we urgently need new ways of learning, teaching, doing research and mobilising collective intelligence to rise to the challenges we face.

Harnessing the collective intelligence of learning ecosystems to create a framework for social renaissance based on the values of sustainability, solidarity and responsibility requires political will, the will of stakeholders, the will of the public and, importantly, for youth to be included throughout. Put bluntly, moving forward education needs to be ‘everybody’s business’. 

Click here to read the full op-ed, “Our Clarion Call to Change Course and Transform Education”

Key takeaways from the Co-Creating Futures of Education Session

The speakers of this flagship session, whose work gives them a metaview of the education ecosystem, shared visions of how to bring the recommendations of the UNESCO report alive, from generic ideas to the implementation of new practices and the co-construction of new systems (click here for the replay). Here are some main outcomes:

Sobhi Tawil, Director, Future of Learning and Innovation at UNESCO, urges us to “forge a new contract for education,” and highlights the right to education throughout life as well as recalling education as a common good and collective responsibility. 

For Sebastien Berger, Executive Director of the Global Student Forum, practical next steps come with three requirements: the need to democratise education, the need for far-reaching changes in curricula and study programs to deliver quality climate education, and adequate funding of education, including the payment of teachers.

Valerie Hannon, Co-Founder of GELP, invites us to look at a more post-humanist perspective, with [gave] three recommendations: first, enable leaders to adapt a different kind of vocabulary and framework in which they can talk publicly about education and thriving, second, spotlight spaces where people are successfully teaching and learning differently, and third, strengthen learner agency to allow youth to participate in this debate.

Laura Savage, Executive Director of The International Education Funders Group, outlines a dual process of listening and iteration, so that “we’re supporting hopefully incremental change that really can get to that point of transformation.”

Jeroo Billimoria, Co-Founder of Catalyst 2030, suggests using the report as “an opportunity to weave together global thinking policy actions, youth perspectives, and concrete action and proven solutions.”

Francois Taddei, Co-Founder of the Learning Planet Institute (LPI), asks, “how can we invite all stakeholders, including the youngest ones, to redesign the SDGs in light of young people’s rights?” and invites us to start discussing the report’s recommendations locally and in the classroom. He invites youth to co-create new and hopeful narratives for a more promising future, in which we learn to take care of oneself, others and the planet. 

Reflecting on this year’s #LearningPlanet Festival

The 3rd edition of the Festival clearly made new narratives for education everybody’s business, and featured 450+ events, co-created with 250+ partners, and spanning 150+ countries.

The theme of this year’s International Day of Education: Changing Course, Transforming Education resonated perfectly with #LearningPlanet’s mission and Festival theme: Learning to take care of oneself, others and the planet. The 8-day programme included tracks dedicated to Transitions in Education, Learning for Sustainability, and Youth Empowerment with #LearningPlanet’s global Youth Council. 

New initiatives are being launched between member organisations and under the #LearningPlanet banner, including:

– Mobilising #LearningPlanet community members to play a key role in implementing the recommendations of the UNESCO report, “Reimagining our futures together: a new social contract for education”

– Creating a Youth Mental Health Circle, notably with MasterPeace

– Launching a Youth Fellows recruitment campaign in April

– Starting a research program in partnership with the Global Education Leaders’ Partnership (GELP) and Dream a Dream on learning ecosystems across Africa, Asia and Latin America

– Co-creating summer schools on transitions in higher education with partners like Dartington Hall and members of the dedicated Learning Circle

– Creating an Arts for Learning Circle with the Community Arts Network.

About #LearningPlanet

Co-founded by UNESCO and LPI, since 2020 #LearningPlanet is a global community of pioneers (youth, teachers, educators, artists, scientists, social entrepreneurs, policymakers, and more) co-creating new ways of learning, teaching, researching and mobilising collective intelligence. It is an ecosystem collectively addressing complex challenges and co-creating solutions that no organisation alone could achieve and aims to inspire and empower learners of all ages to take care of themselves, others and the planet, thus contributing to shaping better futures.

Learn more about #LearningPlanet here and how to join here!