The 15th and 16th of March 2015 the third edition of the Global Education & Skills Forum is taking place in Dubai.
The aim of this forum, as specified on their website is to
... bring together leaders from government, business, and education, as well as leading academics, social entrepreneurs, and other thought leaders, to focus on the research, models, and mechanisms that can create quality education and employment for all.
As the subtitle of the forum says, the event is focused on Education, Equity and Employment. These three keywords carry with them some fundamental issues that the world is facing today. Just to mention a few: access and distribution of education; safety of educational environments; discriminations toward gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic condition; unemployment, lack of social security and basic rights. And so on.
Is it a paramount responsibility, for world leaders, to address these issues? Yes, obviously.
Are these issues being tackled as they should? We are not sure. As educational NGOs activists I think is legitimate to suspect this is not the case.
Let's start from the title of the event which is Education & Skills. We reasoned about this several other articles: why is the word Education being programmatically replaced by Skills, why is there the strong will to shift towards a skill-centered educational paradigm. Nothing surprising then if the welcoming speech was done by Andreas Schleicher, the Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills of the OECD. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development the international organisation, firstly responsible of this process of skillification, and uses the diktat of scientific evidence based on flawed measurements of educational data such as PISA, PIAAC in order to drive political countries' political agenda on Education (see why).
But still OECD is a relevant stakeholder in Education. But what about other guests such as American multinational investment banking Goldman Sachs, or Microsoft representatives speaking about unleashing the power of MOOCs or Bill Clinton talking about the benefits of Lifelong learning? How much the pending issues I mentioned above are address in workshops entitled how to replicate excellence in leading schools?, The business of education, Making girls great, Can private education be a public good?
And even more importantly: how can we aim to unravel the pending issues of education nowadays with such a limited representation of learners and teachers, the first direct and primary stakeholders in Education? Isn't it misleading to talk about equity when the only form of representation of young people is the Youth Advocacy Group of the United Nation there to accomplish some merely cosmetic purposes?