USP VC presents to the Ministers on Education for Sustainability and Resilience at 20CCEM
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Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP with Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of Commonwealth.
Commonwealth countries need to provide determined leadership, build consensus and inclusion, create strong partnerships, and fully leverage ICTs and new learning tools to develop education for sustainable development and resilience. The involvement of young people in policy development, monitoring and implementation were of critical importance. Education for sustainability needs to be led and owned by the countries, and embedded thoroughly into the national visions of development of countries and owned by all the stakeholders. Business as usual will not allow countries to succeed in meeting their commitments to SDG4 and its 10 targets. Innovation and thinking outside the box are needed as the new normal for our societies.
These were the key messages by Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of The University of the South Pacific (USP), during the Issues Presentation at the 20th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (20CCEM) on 21 February 2018.
Professor Chandra spoke to the Ministers on “Education for Sustainability and Resilience: The Task Ahead” and deliberated on topics including, developing Education for Sustainable Development (ESD); building resilience through education; and enhancing educational governance and management for better educational outcomes.
He highlighted that equitable access to education is uneven across the Commonwealth and poverty remains the main cause of exclusion. Therefore, he recommended that the 20CCEM should identify, diagnose and devise interventions to remove sources of inequality in participation and achievement which are attributable to household income, location, gender and other forms of disadvantages.
Together with Pre-School, Primary and Secondary education, Professor Chandra noted that tertiary education is vital to the development prospects of the Commonwealth in the creation and effective deployment of new knowledge to create new competitive advantages and sustainability through its cutting-edge research and innovation.
He said that it was widely accepted that education is the best way to build resilience and resilience needs to be nurtured and valued.
“Secure and high-quality learning creates confidence and competence to manage crises and adversity,” Professor Chandra mentioned.
He further added that inclusivity reduces inequalities and is central to resilience both for those who suffer disadvantage and for those who can ameliorate marginalisation.
The Vice-Chancellor and President also emphasised that indigenous knowledge strengthens sustainable development and resilience and promotes social cohesion. “Preservation of language remains central to identity and the use of mother tongue in schools is important and should be supported by countries as appropriate to context,” he stated.
Talking about governance and management, Professor Chandra said that good governance and educational management are the institutional mechanisms that transform policy into practice and generate effective and efficient learning outcomes relevant to personal, community and national development. “We need to build the capacity of teachers and school management systematically, linking this to sustainability and resilience,” he suggested.
Moving on, it was found out that educational assessment and data collection systems of assessment are well established and executed by a range of existing agencies. But, Professor Chandra noted that national assessments are usually summative and limited to some subjects and grades.
Therefore, he recommended that there should be provision of inter-commonwealth technical assistance to enhance the quality and content and predictive validity of high-stakes examinations that assess ESD outcomes; and the development of formative assessment instruments related to core subjects at different grade levels linked to the national curriculum and ESD that can be used by teachers.
In conclusion, Professor Chandra said that 20CCEM has the opportunity to provide leadership in valuing the future and investing in education for sustainable development “for the benefit of the Commonwealth’s children, and their children’s children. This can only happen with greater national leadership and ownership both at the national level and within education ministries and administration”
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