16 JANUARY 2015
What are the Hottest Issues for International Education in 2015?
Last year’s Education World Forum saw ministerial delegations representing 83% of the worlds’ learners come to London. These global discussions offer a rare opportunity to come together at the highest level and focus on the big issues in education worldwide. Thinking back to the themes emerging at last year’s forum, what stood out was the continuing disparity of educational access and the fact that what works in richer countries is often not relevant elsewhere.
I anticipate that the focus of discussions this year will be on the recurring challenges of:
1. Increasing access to education
2. Improving quality of teaching
3. Harnessing the potential of digital
1. Increasing access: in 2015, the target year for achieving the UN Millenium Goals, universal primary schooling will not be achieved - one in ten primary aged children are still out of school. Sub-Saharan Africa and conflict zones are where most of these children are located. To make an impact in the immediate term innovative bottom-up approaches are essential in parallel with inter-governmental global conflict resolution and international development support.
2. Teaching quality: Access is just the starting point; being able to go to school does not necessarily mean that a child receives high quality education. One-third of all primary school age children are not learning the basics - a sobering fact that highlights the crucial importance of the quality of teaching. TALIS results demonstrate the impact on teacher efficacy and self-belief that professional dialogue and peer observation can have and are borne out by our experience in supporting school reform in Kazakhstan.
3. Harnessing digital: I see digital as an important contributor to the distribution of resources, bringing access to new content and networks of peers and experts. However, the roll-out of infrastructure remains a challenge. Digital can help both with giving learners access to education and with supporting teachers to teach better through resources and enabling communities of practice. Cambridge University Press is developing innovative products and training services that integrate assessment, reporting and portfolios, as well as the provision of complementary digital tools, with data and analytics to provide immediate feedback to pupils and teachers.
This year at the Forum I am particularly looking forward to discussing new approaches to teacher education and educational resources, Cambridge has been educating secondary school teachers since 1879 and we want to continue to play our part in innovation and shaping the future.
Claudia Bickford-Smith is the former Director of the International Education Business at Cambridge University Press.
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