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Futures of education Learning to become

Futures of

Learning to become
A global initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet.

About the initiative

UNESCO's Futures of Education initiative aims to rethink education and shape the future. The initiative is catalysing a global debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty, and precarity.
Thinking together so we can act together
to make the futures we want.
With accelerated climate change the fragility of our planet is becoming more and more apparent. Persistent inequalities, social fragmentation, and political extremism are bringing many societies to a point of crisis. Advances in digital communication, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology have great potential but also raise serious ethical and governance concerns, especially as promises of innovation and technological change have an uneven record of contributing to human flourishing.
Knowledge and learning are humanity’s greatest renewable resources for responding to challenges and inventing alternatives. Yet, education does more than respond to a changing world. Education transforms the world.

Looking to 2050 and beyond, the Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative seeks to reimagine how education and knowledge can contribute to the global common good.
This initiative will mobilize the many rich ways of being and knowing in order to leverage humanity’s collective intelligence. It relies on a broad, open consultative process that involves youth, educators, civil society, governments, business and other stakeholders. The work will be guided by a high-level International Commission of thought-leaders from diverse fields and different regions of the world. In November 2021 the commission will publish a report designed to share a forward looking vision of what education and learning might yet become and offer a policy agenda. The Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative will catalyze a global debate on how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet.
This project uses the concept of futures in the plural in order to recognize that there is a rich diversity of ways of knowing and being around the world. The plural form also acknowledges that there are multiple dimensions to the future and that there will likely be various desirable and undesirable futures – all of which will vary greatly depending on who you are and where you stand. Rather than attempting to chart a single future, looking at futures in the plural validates multiple possible and desirable futures of humanity on our shared planet.

UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative also approaches the future as a space for democratic design that is connected to, but not limited by, past and present. It builds on dedicated evidence-based trend analysis that can help shine light on anticipated challenges and opportunities. This is complemented by participatory mechanisms for envisioning new possible futures of education. Consultations across world regions will tap the visions and aspirations of a wide range of stakeholders under the understanding that innovation and ownership of the future need to be locally anchored as well as globally discussed.

The project embraces a fluid, iterative, and collective approach to futures-making. The goal is to generate discussion and action on the role of education, knowledge and learning in view of the predicted, possible and preferred futures of humanity and the planet.
The concept of Learning to Become points to a philosophy of education and an approach to pedagogy that views learning as a process of continual unfolding that is ongoing and life-long. To think in terms of “becoming” is to invoke a line of thought that emphasizes potentials, rejects determinism and expresses a flexible openness to the new.

Learning to Become also invokes the need to develop the capacity to imagine a good and fulfilling life. Around the globe, for the many that live in conditions of poverty, exclusion, displacement and violence, the future can appear more as a set of shrinking possibilities than a world of hope and promise. When human aspiration is wasted, the world suffers.

As we come to terms with human-caused changes to the planet and face the possibilities of fundamental transformations in social organization, human consciousness and human identity, humanity needs to devote attention to the question: what do we want to become? Knowledge and learning are at the core of transformations in human minds and societies. Learning to Become invites us to become something we have not yet become.
Education is a key piece of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Despite the scope of these global commitments and the expected achievements, there is still an urgent need to look beyond this fast-approaching horizon. While the Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action lays out a roadmap for the transformation of education systems and affirms a central commitment to inclusion and equity, we must still ask what education might yet become – and what education might yet enable us to become. UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative uses the horizon of 2050 and beyond in order to anticipate and shape both nearer and more distant futures.
Sahle-Work Zewde
H.E Ms. Sahle-Work Zewde
President, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Chair, International Commission

International commission

The Director-General of UNESCO has convened an independant International Commission to work under the leadership of the President of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Her Excellency President Sahle-Work Zewde, and develop a global report on the Futures of Education. The members of the commission are thought-leaders from the worlds of politics, academia, the arts, science, business, and education. The commission will carefully consider inputs received through the consultation processes. This collective intelligence will be reflected in the global report and other knowledge products connected with the initiative.
The Commission will focus on rethinking the role of education,
learning and knowledge in light of the tremendous challenges
and opportunities of predicted, possible, and preferred futures.

Commission members

Get involved!

Your voice counts and your perspective matters. Become a part of this global initiative!
The Futures of Education: Learning to Become initiative is about sparking conversations on how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet. Inputs from individuals, networks, and organizations will inform the work of the International Commission and shape the global debate.
We need to think together in order to act
together and shape the futures we want.

The global consultation process will be open soon!

Leave your email so that we can inform you as soon as we open our different engagement channels!

Communications and resources

Spark the conversation with your community and networks!
Invite others to engage in Futures of Education initiative and share their ideas by downloading communication materials and promoting them in your networks.


More communication resources to come!


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