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IBE-UNESCO pushes the boundaries of education innovation to foster development

ZHUHAI, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA — Between 20 and 23 November 2019, IBE-UNESCO participated in the 5th China Education Innovation Expo. The theme of the event, Empower China with Education Innovation, marks China's growing leadership in driving and sustaining innovation as an enabler of development.

Attended by a whopping 20,000 participants (in addition to a live webcast audience of 3 million people), the event brought together more than 2,000 leading scholars, policy makers, and practitioners from education, government, business, and media, for action-oriented discussion on the role of education innovation in development, and on the future of education and learning. 106 Forums and 712 workshops took place in two and a half days of the Expo.

At the vanguard of global efforts to engender curricula that anticipate future trends, while remaining pertinent to I4.0 and to the fast-changing 21st-century context, the IBE-UNESCO was specially invited to this important event.

The IBE played multiple prominent roles, ranging from delivering keynote addresses and closing remarks, to organizing an exhibit booth and participating in roundtables and related workshops.

IBE Director Mmantsetsa Marope was a special guest in the Presidential-highlighted Forum on International Education Innovation Trends and delivered the first keynote address, focusing on the IBE innovative and future-forward initiatives and their impact on global education practices.

Unprecedented waves of change call into question the readiness of education and learning systems, and more specifically curricula, to prepare learners for an unknown future, Dr. Marope warned. How can education systems create and shape the future, instead of always playing catch up or even running backwards? Retaining proactive innovative education and learning systems; balancing agility to adapt with the need for stability; and depoliticizing education as a national and not a bipartisan agenda were among Dr. Marope’s recommendations for initiatives that could be further explored.

Curriculum, she stressed, is a key part of the solution: “The transformative aspect of curriculum underscores the point that, more than just adapting to fast changing 21st century contexts, curricula must lead change, and be part of constructive disruptors”.

However, Dr. Marope cautioned, “given the reality that curricula are embedded in education and learning systems that are sluggish to change, this is a tall order”. Therefore, curriculum needs to be reconceptualized at a supra or global level as “a dynamic and transformative articulation of collective expectations of the purpose, quality, and relevance of education and learning to holistic, inclusive, just, peaceful, and sustainable development, and to the well-being and fulfillment of current and future generations”; it also needs to be repositioned at the core of: national and global development dialogue and interventions; the development of the human resource base required to enable long term human capital accumulation and to drive future development; and all levels and types of education and lifelong learning systems.

Dr. Marope’s keynote address was followed by a roundtable discussion on International Education Innovation Trends, which was moderated by Zuoyu Zhou, Vice-President, Beijing Normal University. Dr Marope exchanged ideas with world-class scholars and practitioners, including: Yaacov Hecht, worldwide pioneer of democratic education; Juha Ollila, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Digiseikkailu Oy, Finland; Shinichi Yamanaka, former Deputy Minister of Education, Japan; Linn Goodwin, Dean of Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong; Chuang Wang, Dean of Education, University of Macau; Patty Norman, Deputy Superintendent at Utah State Board of Education, US; and Marc Tucker, former CEO of the National Center on Education and The Economy, US.

The IBE Senior Fellow Cristian Fabbi delivered a second keynote address, during the China Preschool Education Forum. He presented a thorough review of the main elements of an ideal quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) system. The importance and urgency of the IBE’s articulation of an ECCE system prototype required to deliver for holistic quality ECCE services to all children of the world permeated his keynote address.

During the same Forum, IBE Director Dr. Marope was invited as a special guest and presented awards to the winners of China ECCE Micro-innovation Prize.

Thousands of attendees perused the IBE exhibit booth, which showcased its innovating projects, initiatives, and publications. They overwhelmingly expressed their appreciation for the IBE’s significant role in fostering and scaling up education innovation, to address the global learning crisis and the future of education and learning.

In the last day of the event, the IBE Director was invited to join a private guided tour of selected Expo stands, highlighting successful China-based projects on artificial intelligence, STEM, and ECCE, all of which are IBE’s flagship programs. Later on, she held a press conference with representatives of main Chinese media channels, including Tencent News, the Chinese Education Information Website; Educator, TVS-5, etc.

The closing ceremony of the 5th China Education Innovation Conference and Expo featured remarks by key participants and organizers of the event, including the IBE Director, the Vice President of Beijing Normal University, the Deputy Mayor of Zhuhai, the Principal of Nanjing Langya Road primary school (winner of SERVE Award, highest China Education Innovation Award), representatives of Normal universities, primary schools, NGOs, the private sector, as well as teachers and volunteer students.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Marope mentioned the challenges ahead: Education systems must address an urgent need for a faster, more agile approach to education and learning. Understanding and integrating rapid technological advances, as well as stewarding them, are key for the future of the education and learning, and a catalyst for development. “The minute we stop innovating is the minute we die”, she said.

The strong profile of the IBE in the China Education Innovation Expo reinforced the remarkable value of its future-forward initiatives that stimulate innovating thinking on curriculum, learning, teaching, and assessment.  

IBE’s participation in pictures
Follow the IBE on social media 
Who’s talking about the IBE at the China Education Innovation Expo? Scroll down to read selected social media entries:
Juha OllilaSimona Popa, Cristian Fabbi, Yi Yang, Janice Liao, BNU ISO, etc.
News coverage of the IBE’s participation in Chinese media
China Education Press AgencyChina News, EducatorSina News, Sohu News, SouthCNZhuhai Daily, CEIE, etc.