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3 Top Lessons From the Transforming Education Summit

by Zohra Yermeche, Head of Connect To Learn

3 Top Lessons From the Transforming Education Summit

by Zohra Yermeche, Head of Connect To Learn

Published 11-03-22

Submitted by Ericsson

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Ericsson Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Heather Johnson listens to a youth representative at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit in New York City.

Originally published by Ericsson

The world is facing an education crisis, and Zohra Yermeche, head of Ericsson's global flagship education program, was at the United Nations Transforming Education Summit in New York City talking about solutions. Don’t miss her three top takeaways on the power of youth action, multi-stakeholder partnerships and the digitalization of education.

It is always interesting to see how sometimes, just a few simple statements have the most lasting impact.

The Transforming Education Summit (TES) in New York City was a whirlwind of roundtables, speaking engagements and bilateral meetings.

But, for me, there was one phrase that I heard repeated a few times which really struck me: We have the education system of the 19th century, the education practitioners of the 20th century and the learners of the 21st century. How can we possibly transform with this huge disparity?

Transforming Education Summit

That explained the real sense of urgency in almost every room and during almost every session. The UN says that education is in a crisis. Coming out of the pandemic, and at the pace at which we are going, we will not achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. Hence the launch of TES as a convening moment to mobilize key stakeholders, present solutions and share commitments.

As UN Messenger of Peace and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai said in a speech at the summit: “If you are serious about creating a safe and sustainable future for children, then be serious about education.”

Let’s look at my top 3 takeaways from the event.

1. Let the youth be in the driver’s seat

The days of youth being seen and not heard are over—for good.

Friday was the summit’s youth-led Mobilization day, and youth from around the world came together to share their views on how to transform education and also issue a declaration which:

  • gathered young people’s collective views on what transforming education should look like
  • outlined young people’s collective recommendations and demands to decision and policymakers, civil society, international organizations, the United Nations, and others on transforming education
  • highlighted young people’s collective commitments and actions towards transforming education

Different groups of youth held several public consultations between June and September 2022. More than 900 attended the last virtual consultation alone, with grassroots consultations drawing hundreds more. The UN estimates that, in the end, more than 400,000 young people contributed in some way. Their declaration expressed their expectations, ambitions, demands and their vision for transforming education. And they also showed how they would make this happen, providing concrete solutions.

Their main message? It’s time to involve youth in the creation of the decisions that affect them—not just as consultants, but as active, driving parties. They have been left out at every level. That needs to end.

They need to be at the table with policy makers at every single level – international, national, regional and local, including schools.

You can read the declaration here.

2. The power of partnerships

Saturday was Solutions Day. And it was the space for multi-stakeholder discussions and engagements to present solutions.

You may have heard of the African proverb that if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. That was the unofficial motto throughout the day, with meetings between UN agencies, government officials, private sector and civil society representatives, education practitioners, youth and more, in which participants asked the big questions.

We know we need to make a change but how do we really do it together? How do we break down the silos and find better ways to collaborate, creating concrete ways to scale up sustainable action and drive our world forward?

I think our partnership with UNICEF in support of Giga, the ITU- and UNICEF-led global school connectivity initiative, is a great example of how this can be done. Giga aims to connect every school in the world to the internet by 2030, and by doing so connect every young person to information, opportunity and choice. Ericsson is providing connectivity intelligence and data science capabilities, as well as financial support - this helps to provide an understanding of where connectivity is needed the most, a vital first step of Giga. We need more examples of this where we can work together, across different sectors, to make challenging ecosystems more efficient and understandable.

3. Digitalization is key

Quality education is critical for a nation’s capacity to innovate, transform and progress. It’s become abundantly clear: Without digital, we cannot even begin to speak about transforming education. National policy and strategies are needed to establish digital learning on a large scale and make it accessible to all. This calls for strong public-private action to address the issue of a digitally divided society.

Furthermore, the growing digitalization of societies and industries are establishing new requirements on an individual’s ability to engage and participate in digital activities, in both professional and private contexts. It is essential to strive for an education that enables a digitally literate and capable population so that no one is left behind.

What’s the next step? Take the lessons learned from the event—the importance of involving the youth in the process of change, the power of partnerships to realize sustainable impact at scale, and how digitalization is an absolutely essential ingredient for the wanted transformation—into our work with many of our partners and customers in the upcoming years. We need to act fast, and together, to address the education crisis.

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Transforming Education Summit

Read more

Don’t miss our live blog from our Christine Luby following all the events of UNGA week.

Do you know why ICT is a solutions sector? Find out why from Heather Johnson, Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility.

Explore Connect to Learn, Ericsson’s flagship education initiative.

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