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2021 Global Peace Convention Hosts Educators to Explore Post-Pandemic Learning Landscape

by Eric Olsen

Educators Face Challenges and Find Opportunities to Prepare Youth for the Twenty-first Century Workplace and Globalized World

The global pandemic is “a wakeup call, an unprecedented disruption in education that has underscored the need to turn the challenge into an opportunity by rethinking and reimagining education,” said Brajesh Panth, Chief of the Education Sector Group at the Asian Development Bank, at an international education forum on August 10.

Convened remotely due to the pandemic, the three-day forum, “Transforming Education though Values, Innovation and Future Ready Skills,” engaged educators, policy makers, and private sector leaders, with registered participants from around the globe joining interactive sessions.

The forum highlighted efforts not only to develop innovative remote and hybrid learning models in response to the pandemic, but also to present a comprehensive, society-based education paradigm to meet the demands of the twenty-first century workplace and, above all, foster peace in communities and globally.

Panelists said teachers, students, parents, and community leaders are all called to collaborate. School is becoming redefined. It is no longer a specific place. Formal education can happen anywhere. Essential social and academic competencies must be mastered to ensure that students have the capacity to positively impact their lives, work, communities, and world.

“Peace is a state of tranquility, a state of harmony, and every educational system should seek to develop a skilled, ethical, peaceful citizen.”

“Future-ready skills are in high demand by employers,” said Global Peace Foundation Vice President for Education Dr. Tony Devine, “yet these need to be guided by shared values in the application of value-neutral knowledge and technologies to solve the pressing problems of our time for the benefit of humanity. Correspondingly, teachers and school leaders will need to re-imagine their roles by having the future arc of their students at heart in creating engaging, innovative, personalized, and collaborative school cultures.”

This education network needs to be equipped not only with the tools and resources for an evolving learning environment but also with social supports to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, and cross-cultural understanding, including guidance for youth encountering extremist ideologies. Education will need to address core issues like food security, poverty reduction, environmental threats and other sustainable development priorities, educators agreed.

Educating the ‘whole child’

“Personalized learning shouldn't be limited just to knowledge acquisition and skill acquisition,” said Arthur Schwartz, President of Character.org, at one forum, “Envisioning a Thriving 21st Century Civilization: Youth Making It Happen.” He encouraged educators to hear students’ voices and apply it to character development “to help students seek out these core values that serve as their moral compass.”

Values can be taught, caught, and sought, another panelist said—taught through lesson planning, caught by the example of teachers and mentors, and sought when students intuitively seek to embrace values to become part of who they are, their identity. 

Some educators said the evolving digital environment can enhance the quality, engagement, and outcomes of learning, with a greater capacity to tailor lessons to the specific needs and level of students than the traditional classroom.  A high-quality education ensures a wholistic framework of knowledge, values and character, including critical thinking and cognitive flexibility, problem solving and digital literacy. 

Others cautioned that while focusing on the development of critical thinking skills and e-learning tools, the Covid pandemic has led to social isolation and a disruptive home learning environment for many youth. Teachers must check on students’ mental wellbeing, panelists cautioned, and intensify the focus on the social and emotional skills of students.

Transforming education: toward a peaceful world

Peace education, service learning, revitalization of community support, and technological capacity are all needed to prepare future-ready youth. “Peace is a state of tranquility, a state of harmony and every educational system should seek to promote a state of harmony, of tranquility, to develop a skilled, ethical, peaceful citizen,” observed Prof. Charles Ong’ondo, the CEO of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development.

Collaboration across the private and the public sector, among different countries within the region and even around the globe, is a key to meeting the education challenge of preparing students for success in the twenty-first century and fostering a peaceful society.

The Transforming Education Track included seven dedicated forums addressing regional and local education priorities in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, the Americas and globally in sessions over three days.

The forums were organized as part of the August 6-15 Global Peace Convention, “Moral and Innovative Leadership in Peacebuilding for Our Changing World.” A flagship bi-annual assembly of the Global Peace Foundation, the Convention was hosted virtually due to Covid restrictions, with eight tracks and some 30 sessions highlighting values-based peacebuilding, advances toward a free and unified Korea, women and youth leadership, and religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

The Convention is now available On-Demand. Register to watch the 2021 Virtual Global Peace Convention.