Sharing Lessons and Perspectives with Chinese Education Innovators

eContribution

Stephanie Novak

Sharing Lessons and Perspectives with Chinese Education Innovators

What can the world learn from China and its education system; and what can we teach the Chinese? That was the burning question at a key regional seminar in Beijing last weekend.

Some of the leading lights in education from the UK, US and around the globe travelled to the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) gathering in Beijing, China, entitled ‘Innovating for Equity and Empowerment’.

The WISE-LIFE China Forum, developed by WISE and partners the 21st Century Education Research Institute, is one of several engagements that will take place between the biennial global WISE summits.

As WISE CEO Stavros Yiannouka put it, the summit was “an important opportunity to explore and to share ideas from a global perspective around issues of local interest and relevance”.

He added: “We believe that equitable and inclusive education provides a new, dynamic vision for education systems in all contexts globally. Yet quality education is often not provided equably, depriving learners opportunity and advancement. This challenge is present across the world, and is perhaps increasingly relevant in countries such as China, which face rapid transformation.”

The milestone event, a great achievement, brought together some 1000 education innovators, leaders and decision makers from China and worldwide. And the Beijing engagement - taking place during the Qatar-China Year of Cultural - was a timely opportunity to further explore collaboration between the two countries. The Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture deepens mutual understanding and celebrates common values between the two cultures, removing barriers and opening minds.

One key ‘takeaway’ from the event was that it is clear WISE is now a major platform that connects Chinese education innovators with global leaders and innovators, as well as helping to ‘export’ Chinese innovative projects to the rest of the world.

Yang Dongping, President, 21st Century Education Research Institute, said in his introduction: “The purpose of education innovation is not just to be new or unconventional, but to reform education and reshape the future. Education innovation means searching for more effective ways to improve access, to help marginalized groups, and to bridge the educational gaps across classes, genders, areas and nations. It means improving education quality and fighting exam-oriented education to bring up capable, creative citizens for tomorrow.”

The aim of the summit was to address some of the most pressing challenges in education today. As the organisers maintained “high-performing education systems yield high-performing economies”. As we progress into the twenty-first century, demand for creative and enterprising individuals continues to soar, especially as countries transition toward knowledge-based societies.

But societies are paying a high price: A growing skills gap crisis, poor social cohesion and mobility, and a lack of innovation are some consequences of a lack of equity and poor quality education. Equity and quality in education contribute to long-term economic growth and social wellbeing. Research shows that students who have enriching school experiences are more likely to stay in education and lead a successful professional life compared to those who have limited and poor quality learning opportunities.

Individuals and organizations around the world have developed creative approaches that are empowering people through equitable, quality education.

Innovative educators are designing systems that allow learners to develop twenty-first century skills –technical and soft– to succeed in their professional and social lives. The WISE-LIFE China Forum on Education is an opportunity to explore these pioneering approaches. The Forum will consider how innovation in education is bolstering global efforts to provide equitable, high-quality education to learners, irrespective of their regional, socio-economic, and cultural
backgrounds.

It is admirable that, together with the 21st Century Education Research Institute, WISE seeks to spark debate and identify creative solutions for education systems. This gathering was a great opportunity to engage with international educators and local leaders who will share best practices from China and around the world.

Global innovators, including WISE Prize for Education Laureate Dr Madhav Chavan, founder of the influential Indian learning organization Pratham; Charles Leadbeater, Innovation Expert and Associate, NESTA; and Ms Shannon May, co-founder of the Bridge International Academy were among the speakers.

The 2016 WISE Awards winning projects were introduced and celebrated during the Forum. Inspiring projects all, they are Jump Math (Canada), Education for Growth and Value Creation (Lebanon); Geekie: Personalized Learning For All (Brazil); Ideas Box (France); Little Ripples (US/Chad); and Tara Akshar Literacy Program, India.

WISE also launched Chinese editions of the WISE books during the engagement in Beijing. Authors and contributors to the three books presented a special signing session, a photo exhibition, and will also take part on panels during the Forum.

By all accounts the WISE-LIFE China Forum was a great success, with many lessons to learn across the whole world for educationalists and thought leaders.

2017 - Volume 11, Issue 2