On the week of 24th of January 2023, the Learning Planet Alliance celebrated Education Day where organizations came together and presented different informative topics that celebrated education in their own way. The themes ranged from education and youth leaning, the environment and green learning to human rights concerns and accessibility.
Broken Chalk has chosen a few events to attend, and report on some important themes that are necessary to in today’s society and dialogue. This month, we wanted to bring back the spirit of learning and education. This series celebrates relevant themes that Broken Chalk deem valuable and essential to discuss.
The best way to start off is with the event held by Salzburg Global Seminar. This event was titled: The power of peer learning and exchange. It relays the significance of organizations and individuals learning from each other, the event was organized in an anecdotal way where each participant discussed their experience networking as an educational policymaker.
Education Policymakers Network: The power of peer learning and exchange
Source: Salzburg Global Seminar
Salzburg Global Seminar, supported by the LEGO Foundation, has developed a network for policymakers, appropriately named Education Policymakers Network. The event was primarily instigated by the necessity of networking in today’s economy and environment. The idea was to bring together policymakers to understand the influence of our environment and communal policy in schools and education.
The Network’s primary target is school children aged 3-12, the aim is to understand their cognitive and behavioral needs and how best to provide for them in the school system. The network meets every 6 weeks to discuses their agenda. There are between 30 to 35 policymakers that exchange their views on the existing discourse in education. The event was anecdotal as three policymakers shared their experiences being part of the Network.
Starting in Brazil, Renan Ferreirinha , the Secretary of education of Rio de Janeiro introduced himself and his work. He is part of the largest public education department in charge of 700 thousand students and 50 thousand teaching professionals. He stated that Brazil had worked and succeeded to enhance the accessibility of education however, the main issue of quality persists. Quality will be a constant aspect of education that requires work and dedication to improve.
Ferreirinha adds that the 2020 pandemic detrimentally affected the access of education and the mental heath of students. Which is why they have been working with UNICEF for the upcoming school year to better the facilities given to students. The work with UNICEF includes discussions and studies with an emphasis on tutoring as it focusses on school students of all ages who struggle with education.
When asked about his thoughts about the Network, he described his enthusiasm for the opportunity to exchange ideas, and develop leadership and social skills. Two skills which continue to develop as being part of the network. Moreover, one perk of this network is that peer to peer exchange allows the flow of cross border ideas which helped him understand the need for practical ideas in solving issues related to the social decline in Rio.
Moving to Emis Njeru from Kenya who expressed great appreciation for the Network. In her words, it prioritizes empowering policymakers. She sees that the main goal of the network is to learn from peer to peer exchange. The platform facilitates global learning for each of the policymakers. She pointed that being part of the Network broadened her implementation knowledge of educational policies and included reviewing, group working and sector planning.
Civil Society Organizations in Kenya are nowadays also flaunting a community of practice as cross border learning is implemented. This means that the ability to provide education in harsh conditions and community building are now becoming a pillar for CSOs, something that was only possible because of peer to peer exchange. Innovation is also necessary as Information Technology is being introduced as part of teaching. The use of IT and electronic caravans ensures the provision and continuity of education in Kenya.
Njeru also touches on the aspect of breadth of skills and critical thinking, as well as social and emotional learning. Those are some skills which encouraged her to be a part of a life long learning network in Kenya and to promulgate the exchange of ideas and hold conferences. She is also participating in other networks that discuss accessibility of education for the disabled, as well as the Consortium of Research network in Kenya which can carry out research to improve evidence based policies in Kenya.
Lastly, in Scotland, Ollie Bray is the strategic director of Education Scotland. He works mainly around curriculum and school improvement. His responsibility is to mobilize teams to work on curriculum reform and leadership, and to focus on national development programs.
Bray elaborates that the career and education he has, had always been part of a network and that is where he learns practical skills the most. He was always looking for a network to join in Scotland. During his educational career, he observed that it was difficult to find local networks thus, joining an international one was the best course he could take. He valued the ability to look outwards in different communities and countries. Then taking good and practical ideas that were unbiased in practice and create a local recipe for Scotland.
Bray, much like Ferreirinha and Njeu, maintained the importance of revisiting social and emotional skills. He added that creative skills and studying how other leaders practice and solve the problems is part of the peer to peer exchange learning process. Bray mentioned quite an interesting point as well, and that is learning from others essentially builds the confidence to be creative in solving local issues.
He then goes on to say that Scotland has a good relationship with Wales and that they meet regularly in order to share ideas on the curriculum and to enhance their team skills during inspection times. One of the main strengths of this network is its even distribution in its global aspect that brings different ideas to the table, he added.
It is such a pleasure to see that our community continues to expand beyond our borders to produce a network that aims in closing the educational gaps we have in our modern society. These efforts show that education remains an essential component to human development.