UNESCO Futures of Education partners with biNu to engage views from South Africa on the top challenges and opportunities ahead
“In our day and age no longer do we allow the future of the planet to be dictated from one location. Futures must be locally and democratically envisioned. After all, it is only through collective and local actions that the futures we want can be made.” H.E. President Sahle-Work Zewde
As stated with flair by the Chair of the International Commission on the Futures of Education, the President of Ethiopia Her Excellency Madame Sahle-Work Zewde, UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative is based on the importance of dialogue and co-construction. These principles are at the core of the organization’s flagship project which aims at reimagining how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet. While we are united by our common humanity and shared planet, all contexts differ and every perspective matters: this is why UNESCO partnered up with biNu to collect the views of tens of thousands of South Africans on what lies ahead for education.
biNu is a technology company that enables #datafree (mobile data) solutions in a country where 20 million South Africans have not been using Internet because of unaffordable data prices‚ lack of internet-enabled devices and lack of access in general. In order to enable its South African community to take part in the global discussion on the futures of education, biNu integrated UNESCO’s 1-minute survey on the futures of education on its Moya platform, a #datafree mobile application which provides news, educational websites, sports updates, weather, financial services, and more, all accessible free of mobile data charges. biNu manages reverse-billed data agreements with mobile network operators to provide #datafree messaging as well as a whole range of content to its 3.5 million monthly users (2 million daily) who cannot afford mobile data prices.
The result was more than 55 000 people offered their views on the top three global challenges ahead and top three ways education can address them. The voices of children and youth are particularly important in any discussion of the future and 2/3 of the respondents were under 30.
Employment and work was the number 1 challenge, followed by Poverty. Given a high youth unemployment rate and the fact that about half of the adult population lives below the upper-bound poverty line, it is not a surprise that respondents anticipate that these will still be problems in 2050. Importantly, Technological change emerged as the third most important challenge according to South African survey respondents. In a country where only 10% of households have home internet access, mobile data is particularly important and #datafree solutions like the Moya platform advanced by biNu help address the data cost barrier. The right to benefit from technological and scientific progress is one of the principles embedded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and is one of the priorities informing UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative.
The South African respondents to UNESCO’s Futures of Education survey said that Skills for work and Economic growth should be the leading purposes of education, adding Gender equality as a third major priority. According to the South African Human Rights Commission, men earn almost twice what women earn on an annual basis. UNESCO research shows that large gender gaps exist in educational access and achievement in many parts of the world and gender equality is one of our global priorities.
Better understanding challenges and aspirations from across the planet helps us all shape the futures of education we want. Collecting views from South Africa thanks to biNu and the Moya platform’s ability to target and mobilize users helps UNESCO to ensure that the forthcoming global report is co-constructed through broad, inclusive consultation processes.
We invite you to join the global discussion on the futures of education by sharing your own views on how education can contribute to the global common good.