New UNESCO report on education calls for ‘new social contract’


Imagining a new future for education by 2050, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) asks three questions: What must be continued? What should we give up? And what needs to be reinvented creatively?

In its new global report released on Thursday, titledReinventing our future together: a new social contract for education, the agency offers answers to these three essential questions.

More than a million people participated in the global consultation process that inspired the report, which calls for a major transformation to right the injustices of the past and to build the capacity to act together for a more sustainable and just future.

Two years of preparation, UNESCO wants the publication to start a debate and a global movement, to forge a new contract between parents, children and educators around the world.


The world is at a crossroads, according to the agency, and global disparities mean education is yet to deliver on its promise to help shape a peaceful, just and sustainable future.

High living standards coexist with gaping inequalities and, although the public square is largely active, “the fabric of civil society and democracy is unraveling in many parts of the world”.

For UNESCO, rapid technological change is also transforming lives, but these innovations “are not sufficiently geared towards equity, inclusion and democratic participation”.

“That’s why we need to rethink education,” the report says.

“Urgent” reinvention

During the twentieth century, public education focused on supporting national efforts at citizenship and development through compulsory schooling for children and young people.

Today, however, as the world faces grave risks for the future, UNESCO believes “We urgently need to reinvent education to help address these common challenges. ”

In this context, the agency calls for a new social contract that must unite the world “around collective efforts and provide the knowledge and innovation necessary to shape a sustainable and peaceful future for all, anchored in social, economic and justice. environmental “.

It must also “defend the role played by teachers,” the report said.

The key principles

For UNESCO, this new social contract must be based on the main principles underlying human rights, such as inclusion and equity, cooperation and solidarity.

It should also be governed by two fundamental principles: guaranteeing the right to quality education throughout life and strengthening education as a common public good, according to the agency.

Worsening social and economic inequalities, climate change, loss of biodiversity, democratic retreat and disruptive technological automation, are some of the challenges highlighted.

“The ways in which we currently organize education around the world do not do enough to ensure just and peaceful societies, a healthy planet and shared progress that benefits all. In fact, some of our difficulties stem from the way we educate, ”the report says.

New ideas

The publication includes some proposals to renew the sector.

To begin with, pedagogy – the practice of teaching – needs to shift from a focus on teacher-led lessons focused on individual achievement, to an emphasis on cooperation, collaboration and collaboration. solidarity, supports UNESCO.

The programs, which have often been organized as a grid of subjects, should emphasize ecological, intercultural and interdisciplinary learning.

Teaching must “move from the status of individual practice to increased professionalization as a collaborative enterprise”.

The publication calls schools “necessary global institutions that must be protected,” but argues that the world “should move away from the imposition of universal models and reimagine schools, including architectures, spaces, timetables, schedules and groups of students in various ways ”.

The agency concludes by saying the report “is more of an invitation to think and imagine than a plan”, and the questions must be answered in communities, countries, schools, programs and education systems around the world .

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