There are over 260 million primary and secondary school-age children around the world that do not have access to education. Tens of millions more are languishing in failing schools which are not teaching them the basics of literacy and numeracy.
These figures, from the UN’s education agency UNESCO, have sparked global alarm and prompted calls for the international community to take action to address the global crisis in learning.
But it’s also increasingly clear that the solutions to this crisis won’t come solely from world leaders, policy-makers or the heads of major global institutions. Instead, they will also need to come from the ordinary people who make education happen – teachers, parents and pupils.
And it will be these changemakers who will drive the heart of any process to improve global education standards.
Changemakers are passionate innovators who focus on transforming the world around them into a better place for all. They are those who grasp new opportunities, and they may come from any walk of life and from anywhere on the planet.
The majority of changemakers are ordinary people who are simply working to make their schools, neighbourhoods and communities better places. And that means that everyone has the potential to be a changemaker.
At the 2019 Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF), we want to explore the new trends that are transforming the worlds of teaching, policy-making, philanthropy and educational technology, and discover what the education sector as a whole can learn from these changemakers.
Nedgine Paul Deroly
Nedgine Paul Deroly is a changemaker. Originally from Haiti, she is co-founder and CEO at Anseye Pou Ayiti, an organisation that seeks to raise educational outcomes in rural Haiti by promoting teacher excellence and student success.
The Haitian school system is dominated by private education. The Global Partnership for Education estimates that more than 80% of primary schools are non-public.
And although the government announced several measures in 2014 with the aim of improving the country’s education system, the country still has some way to go in its efforts to improve standards.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2018 demonstrates that the country is not performing well in areas such as critical thinking in teaching and the mean years of schooling for children.
To help combat this, Paul Delroy is helping to develop collective leadership to improve education and expand opportunities for children in Haiti. She is also a partner CEO in the Teach For All scheme, helping underprivileged pupils around the world.
Like Paul Deroly, Yuhyun Park also works tirelessly to improve education standards and transform our understanding of digital literacy.
Through her pioneering work on how technology intersects with education, she developed a digital citizenship education platform for children in South Korea and Singapore.
And according to social entrepreneur support network Ashoka, Park also empowers young children around the world to become responsible digital citizens by helping them to build the fundamental skills of respect, self-confidence and empathy through fun and interactive learning activities.
Teachers, meanwhile, are virtually changemakers by default.
This year’s Global Teacher Prize winner Andria Zafirakou inspires change from her classroom at Alperton Community School, where she teaches art and textiles to children from some of the poorest families in the United Kingdom. She also has a place on the global stage where she champions better education for all.
In 2018 she launched Artists in Residence – a campaign that promotes arts education and aims to increase pupil wellbeing.
Zafirakou says: “In recent times, there has been a decline in children choosing to study arts at GCSE [the exams taken at age 16 in UK secondary schools], or enter into the workplace in an arts-based job. Artists in Residence brings prestigious artists into schools and enables students to vision an exciting world they can be part of.”
GESF 2019 is also championing changemakers from beyond the education sector, to help share big ideas and encourage new and innovative ways of sparking change throughout the world.
It is people like endurance swimmer and ocean advocate Lewis Pugh that the education sector and other industries can learn from.
Pugh began swimming in vulnerable ecosystems to draw attention to the impact humans are having on the world's oceans.
But as a changemaker, Pugh’s strategy has evolved – from simply swimming in the sea to speaking with policy-makers, environmentalists, scientists and the world’s media.
And – as in the education sector – changemakers are often at the centre of the groups that Pugh is working hard to engage with. At the heart of his campaigning is a belief that education needs to change to address our changing global climate.
GESF 2019 asks: “Who is changing the world?”
Put simply: everyone has the potential to be a changemaker – and today many people from all over the world are changing education for the better.
Register now for GESF 2019 to meet the people that are changing the world.