.
T

wo years into the pandemic and schools are still struggling with teacher shortages, student and staff absences, and a growing number of students that are developing mental health issues and are unable to catch up. This is in the parts of the world where funding, accessibility, and technologies are in abundance. In rural or developing regions of the world, where lack of internet connectivity and other challenges—like poverty, illness, and lack of infrastructure—persist, the outcomes for learners have been catastrophic. Experts believe it could take an entire generation to catch up to pre-pandemic levels. 

The silver lining is that the Covid generation is a tenacious one and is eager to contribute to solutions. But they don’t typically get a seat at the table to do just that. Sure, we often invite young people to join big events and multilateral meetings, but not on their terms. What would happen if youth had a powerful platform to broadcast both their needs and ideas for the future? WISE—the preeminent global platform for the future of education—aimed to answer that very question in their biennial summit last month, entitled "Generation Unmute." In a first, WISE invited a large cohort of young leaders to curate a big part of the content for the meeting.

As concerns rise over the pandemic’s impact on every aspect of our lives, several key ideas and solutions came to light during the WISE sessions, curated by youth leaders and experts alike. Our team at Diplomatic Courier was privileged to moderate two sessions and preview ground-breaking research. As we begin Davos Week—a time each January when heads of state, private sector and civil society leaders mobilize around global challenges—we look back to WISE’s "Generation Unmute" Summit for solutions.

The Future of Learning is Personal

COVID-19 accelerated adoption of personalized learning and there is near universal enthusiasm for it: these were some of the key takeaways of an Economist Impact research paper unveiled at WISE. Given the mass-adoption of ed-tech due to the pandemic, this was not a big surprise. However, this universal enthusiasm mirrored near universal confusion about what personalized learning really is and most importantly which approaches—teacher-led or student-led—are more suitable when navigating the future.

There is huge promise in personalized learning, whichever level in the spectrum we follow. Personalized learning exists to meet the needs of individual students so they can achieve their full potential. To further accomplish this in schools, the gap between teachers, administrators, and students must be bridged. Simply put: “Personalized learning technology can really support building environments where the teachers acquire the necessary skills and allocate time to better know their students, to adjust the teaching experience to help students achieve their full potential,” explains Elyas Felfoul, WISE Director of Policy Development and Partnerships.

Panelists discuss the launch of report “Getting Personal: The Future of Education Post COVID-19.” From left to right: Isabelle Hau, Impact Funder, Ana C. Rold, CEO & Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, Elyas Felfoul, Director of Policy Development and Partnerships, WISE, Mehdi Benchaabane, Executive Director, Learning & Innovation, Qatar Foundation. Joining virtually: Jonathan Birdwell, Regional Director (EMEA), Policy & Insights, Economist Impact. Photo courtesy of WISE.

Can EdTech Keep Its Promise?

EdTech’s big promise—especially since the pandemic forced learning online—is greater access to education worldwide. However, it comes with challenges to ensure equitable inclusion. We know too well that even though technology is a key tool for delivery, it is not enough on its own. Experts see Ed-Tech as a key vehicle to deliver more equity, which is reflected in the gold-rush to Ed-Tech focused investment. Recently, Owl Ventures raised over USD $1 billion across three funds.

According to education investor Isabelle Hau, impact investing in the EdTech sector could advance in two ways in the future. First, it will grow and become more global. Second, it will continue to evolve with a greater focus on equity either through funding for women and traditionally underfunded entrepreneurs or for solutions that grant greater equitable outcomes in education. Ultimately, Ed-Tech will grow globally, but equity must remain at the forefront of its adoption, concludes Hau.

WISE Panel: “Women in Education: Breaking the Glass Ceiling” addressed the contributions of girls and women in the future of education. Panelists included: Ana C. Rold, CEO & Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, Naza Alakija, Founder, SAGE Foundation, Eglantina Zingg, Founder, Goleadoras, and Sarah Wadi Al-Amiry, Joint Venture Project Manager, Exxon Mobil. Photo courtesy of WISE.

A Proverbial Glass Ceiling Made of Concrete

This we know: educating girls can uplift entire communities and societies. Girls need to participate in all fields, including STEM, where there is a shortage. But breaking the proverbial glass ceiling post-pandemic is like trying to break concrete. 

“The most basic and essential area of focus for positive change right now is to ensure that girls can attend school safely and complete their education,” said Naza Alakija, Founder of the SAGE Foundation. “When girls have to drop out—even for a short time—their parents are much less likely to allow them to go back, as they don’t see the return on time and investment.”

However, “[girls] have the ability to think differently and innovate in a way that we’ve never dreamed of,” said Alakija. Therefore, educating girls remains of utmost importance, especially at a time when the pandemic has forced millions of girls out of schools—some of them permanently. 

Accessibility is another basic need that simply cannot be pushed to the side any longer. Over 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have internet access, and 94% of children missed out on school during the pandemic, making access and connectivity a serious educational concern. “Without [internet], they’re cut off from life-changing information and knowledge,” explains Alakija. “They have fewer resources to help them learn, grow, and to fulfill their potential.”

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bin Nasser, Chairperson, Qatar Foundation, presents Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach For All, the 2021 WISE Prize for Education award. Photo courtesy of WISE.

A Whole of Society Approach to Education

“As educators, we have the greatest role to play in shaping the future,” said Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach For All, who was awarded with WISE’s prestigious WISE Prize for Education.

“In order to do that, we need to reorient towards a different purpose that is relevant for today’s world—a purpose of enabling students to gain the mindsets and skills and sense of well-being that they will need to shape a better future.” 

Several leaders, including Kopp, stressed the importance of transforming learning systems. Educators increasingly focus on students' well-being while also enlisting them to help solve problems in our world today. However, collective leadership and the inclusion of citizens on all levels of the entire education ecosystem need to be developed further to support this advancement. 

Marc Brackett, best-selling author of “Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive” gives a keynote speech at WISE 2021. Photo courtesy of WISE.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills for the Future

The pandemic brought a greater global convergence on child and student well-being, making social and emotional learning skills—also known as SEL skills—a focus point across the entire supply chain of education.

“When you think of social-emotional learning as building health connections and supporting students with understanding and managing their everyday emotions, it’s what anybody would do to help a friend,” explains psychologist and founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Marc Brackett.

There needs to be a systemic approach to implement social and emotional learning in education systems. Teachers lack the preparation to teach those skills. However, according to Brackett, they need to be equipped to do so for the future.

A multimedia presentation by Education Above All Foundation (EAA). Photo courtesy of WISE.

What Does It Mean to Really Unmute Youth?

It’s really tough to be a young person these days. The lockdowns and adversity that comes from the pandemic’s effect on every facet of our lives, are particularly hard on a generation that has inherited a compendium of crises all at once. Often, young people feel left out of the decision-making process altogether. And when they do get invited to multilateral meetings, their voices are drowned by a cacophony of hard-power negotiations.

But there is an increased and urgent focus for young leadership in global issues, and a growing realization that global problems such as climate change require youth inclusion and participation if we are ever going to solve them. 

“Change is really happening. I think it’s not enough; it’s never enough,” Jana Degrott tells us. She is the Co-Founder of We Belong and one of Luxemburg’s youngest elected politicians. “It’s really making sure that [young people] are everywhere included, and that they also feel like their voice really matters.” She would know. She didn’t simply wait to be invited; she grabbed a chair and joined at the big table and now is helping others like her learn how to run for political office so that they can make change from where it matters.

WISE Summit carries the unique role of elevating innovations and solutions for education from a global standpoint, having become a key platform for the sector’s most important leaders to convene. But who is at the table also matters, and opening seats so that young leaders can be part of the solutions, is perhaps WISE’s biggest achievement yet. That’s what it means to really “unmute” a generation’s voice.

Editor’s Note: WISE 2021, officially known as the World Innovation Summit for Education, took place in Doha, Qatar from December 7-9, 2021. The Summit took place under the theme: “Generation Unmute: Reclaiming our Future through Education.” Diplomatic Courier served as a media partner to WISE 2021 and participated in a number of sessions, which are being discussed in this article.

About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold
About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

a global affairs media network

www.diplomaticourier.com

From Doha to Davos: Education’s Great Reset is Here

Photo courtesy of WISE Summit.

January 17, 2022

Diplomatic Courier's Ana Rold and Whitney DeVries reflect on the findings of the WISE 2021 summit, which considered the sticky challenges of COVID-19 to education and the potential of Ed-Tech, personalized education, and what these might do for girls' education moving forward.

T

wo years into the pandemic and schools are still struggling with teacher shortages, student and staff absences, and a growing number of students that are developing mental health issues and are unable to catch up. This is in the parts of the world where funding, accessibility, and technologies are in abundance. In rural or developing regions of the world, where lack of internet connectivity and other challenges—like poverty, illness, and lack of infrastructure—persist, the outcomes for learners have been catastrophic. Experts believe it could take an entire generation to catch up to pre-pandemic levels. 

The silver lining is that the Covid generation is a tenacious one and is eager to contribute to solutions. But they don’t typically get a seat at the table to do just that. Sure, we often invite young people to join big events and multilateral meetings, but not on their terms. What would happen if youth had a powerful platform to broadcast both their needs and ideas for the future? WISE—the preeminent global platform for the future of education—aimed to answer that very question in their biennial summit last month, entitled "Generation Unmute." In a first, WISE invited a large cohort of young leaders to curate a big part of the content for the meeting.

As concerns rise over the pandemic’s impact on every aspect of our lives, several key ideas and solutions came to light during the WISE sessions, curated by youth leaders and experts alike. Our team at Diplomatic Courier was privileged to moderate two sessions and preview ground-breaking research. As we begin Davos Week—a time each January when heads of state, private sector and civil society leaders mobilize around global challenges—we look back to WISE’s "Generation Unmute" Summit for solutions.

The Future of Learning is Personal

COVID-19 accelerated adoption of personalized learning and there is near universal enthusiasm for it: these were some of the key takeaways of an Economist Impact research paper unveiled at WISE. Given the mass-adoption of ed-tech due to the pandemic, this was not a big surprise. However, this universal enthusiasm mirrored near universal confusion about what personalized learning really is and most importantly which approaches—teacher-led or student-led—are more suitable when navigating the future.

There is huge promise in personalized learning, whichever level in the spectrum we follow. Personalized learning exists to meet the needs of individual students so they can achieve their full potential. To further accomplish this in schools, the gap between teachers, administrators, and students must be bridged. Simply put: “Personalized learning technology can really support building environments where the teachers acquire the necessary skills and allocate time to better know their students, to adjust the teaching experience to help students achieve their full potential,” explains Elyas Felfoul, WISE Director of Policy Development and Partnerships.

Panelists discuss the launch of report “Getting Personal: The Future of Education Post COVID-19.” From left to right: Isabelle Hau, Impact Funder, Ana C. Rold, CEO & Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, Elyas Felfoul, Director of Policy Development and Partnerships, WISE, Mehdi Benchaabane, Executive Director, Learning & Innovation, Qatar Foundation. Joining virtually: Jonathan Birdwell, Regional Director (EMEA), Policy & Insights, Economist Impact. Photo courtesy of WISE.

Can EdTech Keep Its Promise?

EdTech’s big promise—especially since the pandemic forced learning online—is greater access to education worldwide. However, it comes with challenges to ensure equitable inclusion. We know too well that even though technology is a key tool for delivery, it is not enough on its own. Experts see Ed-Tech as a key vehicle to deliver more equity, which is reflected in the gold-rush to Ed-Tech focused investment. Recently, Owl Ventures raised over USD $1 billion across three funds.

According to education investor Isabelle Hau, impact investing in the EdTech sector could advance in two ways in the future. First, it will grow and become more global. Second, it will continue to evolve with a greater focus on equity either through funding for women and traditionally underfunded entrepreneurs or for solutions that grant greater equitable outcomes in education. Ultimately, Ed-Tech will grow globally, but equity must remain at the forefront of its adoption, concludes Hau.

WISE Panel: “Women in Education: Breaking the Glass Ceiling” addressed the contributions of girls and women in the future of education. Panelists included: Ana C. Rold, CEO & Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, Naza Alakija, Founder, SAGE Foundation, Eglantina Zingg, Founder, Goleadoras, and Sarah Wadi Al-Amiry, Joint Venture Project Manager, Exxon Mobil. Photo courtesy of WISE.

A Proverbial Glass Ceiling Made of Concrete

This we know: educating girls can uplift entire communities and societies. Girls need to participate in all fields, including STEM, where there is a shortage. But breaking the proverbial glass ceiling post-pandemic is like trying to break concrete. 

“The most basic and essential area of focus for positive change right now is to ensure that girls can attend school safely and complete their education,” said Naza Alakija, Founder of the SAGE Foundation. “When girls have to drop out—even for a short time—their parents are much less likely to allow them to go back, as they don’t see the return on time and investment.”

However, “[girls] have the ability to think differently and innovate in a way that we’ve never dreamed of,” said Alakija. Therefore, educating girls remains of utmost importance, especially at a time when the pandemic has forced millions of girls out of schools—some of them permanently. 

Accessibility is another basic need that simply cannot be pushed to the side any longer. Over 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have internet access, and 94% of children missed out on school during the pandemic, making access and connectivity a serious educational concern. “Without [internet], they’re cut off from life-changing information and knowledge,” explains Alakija. “They have fewer resources to help them learn, grow, and to fulfill their potential.”

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bin Nasser, Chairperson, Qatar Foundation, presents Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach For All, the 2021 WISE Prize for Education award. Photo courtesy of WISE.

A Whole of Society Approach to Education

“As educators, we have the greatest role to play in shaping the future,” said Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach For All, who was awarded with WISE’s prestigious WISE Prize for Education.

“In order to do that, we need to reorient towards a different purpose that is relevant for today’s world—a purpose of enabling students to gain the mindsets and skills and sense of well-being that they will need to shape a better future.” 

Several leaders, including Kopp, stressed the importance of transforming learning systems. Educators increasingly focus on students' well-being while also enlisting them to help solve problems in our world today. However, collective leadership and the inclusion of citizens on all levels of the entire education ecosystem need to be developed further to support this advancement. 

Marc Brackett, best-selling author of “Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive” gives a keynote speech at WISE 2021. Photo courtesy of WISE.

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Skills for the Future

The pandemic brought a greater global convergence on child and student well-being, making social and emotional learning skills—also known as SEL skills—a focus point across the entire supply chain of education.

“When you think of social-emotional learning as building health connections and supporting students with understanding and managing their everyday emotions, it’s what anybody would do to help a friend,” explains psychologist and founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Marc Brackett.

There needs to be a systemic approach to implement social and emotional learning in education systems. Teachers lack the preparation to teach those skills. However, according to Brackett, they need to be equipped to do so for the future.

A multimedia presentation by Education Above All Foundation (EAA). Photo courtesy of WISE.

What Does It Mean to Really Unmute Youth?

It’s really tough to be a young person these days. The lockdowns and adversity that comes from the pandemic’s effect on every facet of our lives, are particularly hard on a generation that has inherited a compendium of crises all at once. Often, young people feel left out of the decision-making process altogether. And when they do get invited to multilateral meetings, their voices are drowned by a cacophony of hard-power negotiations.

But there is an increased and urgent focus for young leadership in global issues, and a growing realization that global problems such as climate change require youth inclusion and participation if we are ever going to solve them. 

“Change is really happening. I think it’s not enough; it’s never enough,” Jana Degrott tells us. She is the Co-Founder of We Belong and one of Luxemburg’s youngest elected politicians. “It’s really making sure that [young people] are everywhere included, and that they also feel like their voice really matters.” She would know. She didn’t simply wait to be invited; she grabbed a chair and joined at the big table and now is helping others like her learn how to run for political office so that they can make change from where it matters.

WISE Summit carries the unique role of elevating innovations and solutions for education from a global standpoint, having become a key platform for the sector’s most important leaders to convene. But who is at the table also matters, and opening seats so that young leaders can be part of the solutions, is perhaps WISE’s biggest achievement yet. That’s what it means to really “unmute” a generation’s voice.

Editor’s Note: WISE 2021, officially known as the World Innovation Summit for Education, took place in Doha, Qatar from December 7-9, 2021. The Summit took place under the theme: “Generation Unmute: Reclaiming our Future through Education.” Diplomatic Courier served as a media partner to WISE 2021 and participated in a number of sessions, which are being discussed in this article.

About
Ana C. Rold
:
Ana C. Rold is the Founder and Publisher of Diplomatic Courier. She teaches political science courses at Northeastern University and is the Host and Producer of Future Tense podcast. Follow her on Twitter @ACRold
About
Whitney DeVries
:
Whitney DeVries is a Diplomatic Courier correspondent currently pursuing a master’s degree in International Affairs and Global Enterprise at the University of Utah.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.