Education and Learning
United Nations system-wide strategic approach for achieving inclusive, equitable and innovative education and learning for all
Education is a right for all. Education and learning are critical in preparing countries and their people for the changes resulting from the accelerated development and spread of technological innovations. There is a need to transform educational systems so that they better serve the needs of society now and in the future, with emphasis on the changing demands for employment and decent work. Indeed, developments in artificial intelligence have significant implications for the future of work, and these require educational systems to provide people of all ages with appropriate learning opportunities to acquire the skills necessary for gainful employment. It is also crucial that people gain the critical and social capabilities necessary to understand the interests underlying the development and spread of such technologies and to have the acuity of mind to appreciate their role in shaping a sustainable world in which everyone can live peaceful, just, safe and fulfilled lives. It is imperative that systems be put in place to ensure that the poorest and most marginalized are empowered through the use of new digital technologies and that the potential negative impacts of such technologies are mitigated, while also realizing the potential benefits.
It was in recognition of these new realities that the “United Nations system-wide strategic approach for achieving inclusive, equitable and innovative education and learning for all” (CEB/2019/1/Add.4) was produced through the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) to provide a framework for the UN system to support Member States in delivering future-oriented learning for all. Developed under the leadership of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), it provides a holistic approach to mobilize joint United Nations system-wide actions to support Member States in meeting the evolving challenges of the future, and thus to ameliorate conditions related to many of these challenges to deliver inclusive, equitable and innovative education and learning for all in changing societies. Five key challenges and four cross-cutting objectives are laid out, and concrete practical UN system actions to address to each of them are recommended. Responding to challenges posed by new technologies and the changing nature of work, the approach is closely linked to both the UN system strategies on AI capacity- building and the future of work.
UNESCO and UNICEF continue to play a leadership role in translating the strategic approach into action, in partnership with relevant United Nations entities and mechanisms to ensure its coordinated implementation and impact.
The importance of scientific and technological innovation for meeting many sustainable development challenges and for accelerating human progress is widely noted throughout the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The General Assembly, in its resolutions 72/242 and 73/17, also recognizes that the pace and scope of rapid technological change can have far-reaching implications – both positive and negative – for the achievement of sustainable development, requiring international and multi-stakeholder cooperation in order to benefit from opportunities and address challenges.
Under the chairmanship of Secretary-General António Guterres, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and its subsidiary machinery have considered a selection of “frontier issues” to ensure that the United Nations system is positioned to provide timely and informed support and advice to Member States in today's quickly evolving technological context.
At its session in November 2017, CEB launched a process examining the risks and opportunities for sustainable development associated with new and emerging technologies and related developments, specifically considering artificial intelligence, cyberspace, biotechnology, and the peace and security implications of emerging technologies. The aim was to identify appropriate areas for engagement by the UN system on frontier technologies in support of Member States. The discussions were informed by analyses produced by HLCP, which was then tasked by CEB to conduct further policy and programme analysis regarding the impact of frontier technologies for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
HLCP presented three interlinked system-wide strategies on key frontier topics – artificial intelligence (AI), the future of work and innovative education – to the Board, which endorsed them in May 2019.
Towards a United Nations system-wide strategic approach for achieving inclusive, equitable and innovative education and learning for all
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