The UK’s Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, officially opened the event by saying that revolutions in the past were about what governments could do, but revolutions today are primarily matters of education.
There was a broad concensus among many authoritative speakers that technology and globalisation are fundamentally impacting on how education is delivered.
“Technology liberated all of us to take ideas from across the world and use it in our own nations,” said Gove, pointing out that in the modern era, individual professionals are able to push the frontline of innovative and globalised teaching.
And Tony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft, noted that it is how students learn that is the biggest change in the education landscape. “I tell teachers, Your students are learning without you, and not all of them are happy to hear it,” he told the ministerial crowd.
“Technology liberated all of us to take ideas from across the world and use it in our own nations”
Meanwhile, Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education at the OECD, reflected on the linkages between economy and education from national and commercial perspectives in his presentation of PISA league tables.
He underlined trends in employment across countries saying: “We need to understand that knowledge and skill drive economies. It’s no longer about what you know but what you can do.”
Dr Pelonomi Venson Moitoi, Minister of Education and Skills Development in Botswana, illustrated this point by showing that vocational skills training is a key part of the government’s strategy as it begins to invest in its human capital.
She outlined initiatives to create jobs outside of the mineral-driven economy including giving practical skills to students who already have degrees and certificates to traditional skills experts – such as weavers – who can make a living teaching others.
Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson, agreed that education success depended on outcomes but said education in a globalised world would only improve through a combination of understanding systems, pedagogy and the promise of technology.
On Tuesday, Dr Elizabeth King, Vice President for Human Resource Development and Director of Education at the World Bank, set out the bank’s future education plans.
In total, more than 60 leading international education experts will take part in presentations discussions and debates during the course of the three-day forum that ends on Wednesday.