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Education 2030 - What are the implications for higher education?

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Autor: Eva Egron-Polak, Secretary-General, International Association of Universities

The Education 2030 agenda, adopted in 2015, provides a new international vision for education. Its main objective is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”. How can countries best plan for the implementation of this ambitious and comprehensive education vision? This question will be the focus of the 2016 IIEP Strategic Debate series.


The Education 2030 agenda sets itself apart from previous international commitments in education, such as Jomtien, Dakar and the MDGs, as the first which refers specifically to higher education as part of a lifelong learning vision. Indeed, through its teacher training capacity, (HE) plays an important role in the support of other levels of education. Education 2030 thus rightly emphasizes the interdependency of education levels, and the importance of HE – as an apex of the whole education system – in the distribution of life chances, social cohesion and the preparation of advanced human resources. By committing to the Education 2030 agenda, countries have committed to 12 years of free, publicly funded, equitable quality primary and secondary education, as well as equal and increased access for all women and men to quality higher education. This Strategic Debate will assess the possible consequences of this commitment, as well as the implications for planning, given the development of a more balanced and systemic vision for the education sector as a whole.

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Education 2030 - What are the implications for higher education?

  1. 1. Education 2030 – Implications/challenges for higher education UNESCO-IIEP 9 May 2016 Paris Eva Egron-Polak, Secretary General, International Association of Universities (IAU)
  2. 2. From MDGs to SDGs – From EFA to SDG4 • A more (too?) ambitious new global agenda • SDGs are seen as interconnected, comprehensive • All nations (and all stakeholders) expected to engage – no longer only for the ‘South’ • EFA - limited to early childhood, primary education, literacy; no focus on higher education • Education 2030 Framework for Action: roadmap to achieve SDG 4, covers the whole educational sector 2© IAU May 2016
  3. 3. Framework’s Key Values and Principles shared by IAU • Education and research - essential to reach all SDGs • Holistic view of Education - a continuum that must be equitable, accessible to all, especially to the most vulnerable and under-represented and at all levels, including at the higher education level • Access only the first step - quality of education and success at all levels are the ultimate goal • Education for all citizens, in all nations, to gain a strong sense of responsibility for the challenges facing humanity and the planet © IAU May 2016 3
  4. 4. Implications and Challenges for Higher Education • Overall, Education 2030 is good news for HE • Though ‘University’ hardly mentioned (target 4.3, after a comma), it is present Challenge 1 • Higher Education must become and be recognized as an integral part of the overall Action Plan, not simply one of the targets • Research for planning, for curriculum design, teacher training, evaluation and assessment, IT use – at all levels are all done at HEIs • Must avoid perpetuating silos with the education sector and within institutions © IAU May 2016 4
  5. 5. Implications and Challenges for Higher Education Challenge 2 • Higher education institutions, especially in industrialized nations, need to be better informed and mobilized to engage in the overall SDG agenda and in Education 2030 – Outside UN circles, and outside developing nations, most higher education leaders have a vague understanding of SDGs (environment, greening campus, climate change, etc.) or their potential role – Even less knowledge about Education 2030 © IAU May 2016 5
  6. 6. Implications and Challenges for Higher Education Challenge 3 • Turning lofty and aspirational goals and targets into meaningful and feasible strategies and actions at government and institutional levels • For example, Target 4.3 – highly abstract and often relative and debated concepts: by 2030 …’equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality …education, including university © IAU May 2016 6
  7. 7. Implications and Challenges for Higher Education Challenge 3 (con’t) • To meet all three of these targets, countries and HEIs will require different strategies; will encounter different obstacles, and have at their disposal different policy levers - equal access may require building physical and human capacity OR it may require overcoming tradition of exclusion based on gender, race, socio-economic background, language, disability (often at prior levels of education) OR both simultaneously - Care not to assume MOOCs and IT are a panacea © IAU May 2016 7
  8. 8. Implications and Challenges for Higher Education Challenge 3 (con’t) • Affordable – Silence in the Framework’s indicative strategies about this – Risks of increased privatization (even of public higher education) due to State withdrawal from HE; risk of highly stratified systems of HE; risk of focus only on economic purposes of higher education – Need for scholarships, bursaries, very attractive loan repayment schemes offered locally (not only to travel) – Care not to import or mimic policies as this is easy but can have negative impact if not properly contextualized © IAU May 2016 8
  9. 9. Implications and Challenges for Higher Education Challenge 3 (con’t) • Quality – An undefined and multi-dimensional concept – the Framework strategies mention: quality assurance; recognition of credits and credentials, and employability – HE rhetoric often about excellence, world class, competitiveness (often in contrast to inclusion and accessibility) – Defining HE quality in broader terms of relevance – how does it contribute to social cohesion, to inter-cultural understanding, to peace and security, to the search and promotion of innovation including more sustainable production methods and consumption practices – Employability is central in the Framework and important to nations, society and individual BUT higher education must prepare for a labour market that is changing much more rapidly and in unpredictable ways, than higher education can or should change – Care not to draw a direct linear link between higher education and employment – can be a sure path to a future ‘skills gap’ in highly qualified people. © IAU May 2016 9
  10. 10. Sound, realistic implementation strategies • Must be multi-stakeholder in design and implementation • Must involve partnerships that span the whole educational system • Must not be tailored to availability of existing indicators, but must include capacity building for data collection (both qualitative and quantitative) • Must be accompanied with funding which too is monitored • In higher education must be institution-wide, reconciling and integrating different agendas © IAU May 2016 10
  11. 11. International Association of Universities • Continuous worldwide information dissemination on higher education policy developments and debates to the HE community • Advocacy to ensure the voice of higher education is heard at policy level • Acting as global forum for sharing good practices – project on Higher Education and EFA (HEEFA) – Web Portal on Higher Education and Sustainable Development (HESD) © IAU May 2016 11
  12. 12. © IAU May 2016 12 www.iau-aiu.net .net
  13. 13. © IAU May 2016 13 http://www.iau-hesd.net/

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