High-Level Symposium on the Future of Education

OIDEL kicked off the month of June by resuming its face-to-face activities in Geneva. In partnership with UNESCO, we organised a high-level symposium entitled “Reimagining our Futures Together: Educational Pluralism and the Social Contract”, which was attended by representatives of civil society, delegates from permanent missions and scholars from the University of Geneva. The aim of the event was to reflect on the role of pluralism in the context of this new invitation by UNESCO in its document on the futures of education.

Sobhi Tawil, director of Future of Learning and Innovation (UNESCO) opened the high-level symposium with pertinent questions. He presented the lessons from the past and the challenges of the future which informed UNESCO’s publication “Reimagining our Futures together: A new Social Contract for Education”.

Dr. Ashely Berner Associate Professor and Director (Institute for Education Policy, Johns Hopkins University) then presented the philosophical justifications of educational pluralism. Educational Pluralism (1) recognizes that education is never value-neutral and always meaning-making, (2) assumes education as a common good, and (3) embraces all relevant stakeholders in education. Further, she presented how educational pluralism policies will lead to “the human flourishing we need, and which “Reimagining our Futures Together” requires”.

Following Dr. Berner’s contribution, Ignasi Grau, Director (OIDEL) connected the discussion to the Human Rights foundations. The main aim of education, as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is “the full development of the human personality”. On that basis, Mr. Grau expanded on the cultural dimension, the social dimension, and the identity of the person, which have to be taken into consideration when rethinking the future of education.

The presentations stirred a lively dialogue between speakers and participants.