A new era in teaching and learning: Creating digital education roadmaps aligned with the sustainable development goals (SDGs)
We can navigate a new path in education through roadmaps that capitalize on opportunities offered by digital technology and drawing on the experiences of educators and students, and relevant public and private sector education service providers from around the world, to achieve quality education, digital skills, and lifelong learning for all, in accordance with SDG4.
To fund and launch a robust pilot testing programme for Digital Education Roadmaps at a country level, drawing on existing UN-supported programmes that harness the power of science, technology, and innovation to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals - and specifically SDG4 for “quality education”. COVIDEA can piggyback on these proven approaches and digital technologies to help communities worldwide rethink and reshape how education is planned and delivered, advancing SDG4 in faster and more focused ways including by developing new content and selecting the digital tools that lead to practical action.
Education systems globally are notoriously resistant to changing 150-year-old structures and have been slow to embrace digital opportunities. This means students are not gaining the skills and knowledge necessary for the jobs of the future; inclusive and equitable education for all remains an aspiration rather than a reality’ and systems only pay lip-service to “lifelong learning”. Yet the technology already exists to bring long-overdue change. Achieving SDG4 is simply not possible without wholescale changes to education systems. Indeed, achieving any SDG without changing education systems is incredibly difficult: moving to more effective teaching and learning models is vital to a more sustainable future for all.
Piggy-backing the UN STI Roadmap approach and world-wide programme
Science, technology, and innovation (STI) are acknowledged as fundamental enablers of sustainable development and for achieving the 2030 Agenda adopted by the world community in 2015. Within the framework of Agenda 2030, the UN Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) enables multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration. It supports the sharing of information, experiences, best practices, practical guidance, and joint activities at a national level, as well as policy advice for and among nations, civil society, the private sector, scientific community, UN entities and more. Developing national STI roadmaps to achieve the SDGs is one of the key activities of the TFM. The roadmaps created through this UN system-wide programme are diverse, inclusive, and adaptable to different national contexts and cultures.
The UN Interagency Task Team on Science, Technology, and Innovation for the SDGs (IATT) mobilizes global experts for an unprecedented degree of co-operation and shared endeavour. Developing innovation roadmaps for SDGs is carried out by organizations including the World Bank, UN DESA (Department of Economic and Social Affairs), UNESCO, UNIDO, WIPO and others. Substantial support also comes from stakeholders including the European Commission, the Platform for Transformative Technologies, OECD, and the government of Japan. The African Union Commission has also expressed support to implement roadmaps in Africa. We plan to tap into and draw on this global network of expertise and engagement.
In addition, the UN has created a detailed STI for SDG roadmaps Guidebook to help countries prepare alternative roadmaps to achieve the SDGs. This valuable resource helps countries to develop STI roadmaps in economic priority areas and exchange views on common guidance, principles, and possible frameworks/methodologies at national and international level. We will use and build on this existing know-how and programme infrastructure and add a programme component specifically geared towards developing national digital education roadmaps.
We propose using these existing UN structures to accelerate the development of innovative roadmaps for digital education at a national level. Such roadmaps will chart a new way to teach and learn, making full use of the possibilities digital technologies offer. They will dovetail with each other and ultimately link across the world to provide new digital infrastructures, approaches and opportunities for education.