2015 Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers
Every three years, Ministers of Education from the 53 member countries of the Commonwealth convene for a Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM). The 19th CCEM was held in Nassau, The Bahamas from 22 to 26 June.
All Commonwealth countries are also members of UNESCO. The timing of the 2015 conference was significant, coming one month after the World Education Forum convened by UNESCO in Incheon, Republic of Korea, and three months before the United Nations Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in New York.
Mark Bray, collaborating with Trey Menefee, presented the lead statistical document at the CCEM, available here. It focused on the conference theme, ‘Quality Education for Equitable Development’, and was presented first to the senior officers in the Ministries of Education of the member countries and then in plenary session to the Ministers themselves. The presentation was dovetailed with one from Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, with whom Mark Bray also held side discussions.
Among the Commonwealth members, 31 countries are classified as small states. Mark Bray presented in a session about financing of tertiary education in small states, drawing on his UNESCO-IIEP book.
He also chaired a session on the SDGs, with presentations from:
- Prof. Pauline Rose, University of Cambridge and former Director of the UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report,
- Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor General of St. Lucia,
- Mr Evarist Bartolo, Minister of Education and Employment, in Malta,
- Ms Mariam Katagum, Nigerian Ambassador to UNESCO.
The Nassau Declaration sets out the resolutions from the CCEM. Mark Bray is now working with the Commonwealth Secretariat on the next stages of implementation.
A core focus of the UNESCO Chair is on the shadow education system of private supplementary tutoring. We are pleased to see that the book Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good has been cited in a Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education entitled Protecting the Right to Education against Commercialization.
The reference is in Section X (page 17), headed ‘Regulatory framework for governing private providers, centred on education as a public good’.
The World Education Forum
UNESCO, accompanied by six co-hosting agencies, has led the much-heralded World Education Forum, 19-22 May, in Incheon, Republic of Korea.
The event was successor to the 2000 Forum in Dakar, Senegal, reviewing progress on the Education for All agenda and setting new targets for 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals to be approved at the United Nations in New York in September 2015. It led to the Incheon Declaration and a draft Framework for Action.
Mark Bray attended both the main event in his role as UNESCO Chairholder and a companion event for NGOs, representing the World Council of Comparative Education Societies
In side meetings, Mark Bray met with a group of Ministers of Education in Commonwealth countries to prepare for the 19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) to be held in The Bahamas 22-26 June 2015. In this domain, Mark Bray collaborated with Nasir Kazmi of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Marcellus Taylor from the Bahamas.
Shadow Education and the Colloquium in Sevres (Paris)
On 12-14 June 2014 Mark Bray participated in an international conference in Sèvres, France, themed "Education in Asia in 2014: What Global Issues?". The conference was hosted by the Centre International d’Études Pédagogiques (CIEP). Mark Bray chaired one of the six strands within the Conference, in which three of the four papers focused on shadow education.
On Tuesday 12 May the CIEP in Sevres launched the special issue of the journal from the conference, including Mark Bray’s paper on shadow education. You may find a video interview and a written interview (in English as well as French) with Mark Bray on the CIEP website.
To watch the full lecture, please click here.
UNESCO has published a vision statement entitled Rethinking Education: Towards a Global Common Good?. It is a sequel to the groundbreaking 1996 Delors Report “Learning: the Treasure Within”. The new document recognises fundamental changes in the decades since 1996, and stresses that review of the purpose of education and the organisation of learning has never been more urgent “in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty and contradiction”.
The publication results from several years of work by a distinguished panel and the UNESCO Secretariat, and with inputs from many partners. Among those inputs was a panel of UNESCO Chairs, led by HKU, at the World Congress of Comparative Education Societies in Buenos Aires, June 2013.
The HKU Chair is pleased to see recognition of its work on shadow education (p.74), including citation of the HKU-CERC book Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia.
Regulating Shadow Education: Launch of Chinese Translation
In April 2013, HKU’s Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) hosted a Policy Forum about regulations for shadow education. The event was co-sponsored by UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok) and the Asian Development Bank, and welcomed researchers, practitioners and parents from 18 jurisdictions.
Three months later, CERC organized a follow-up event in conjunction with the China Education Training Union. This body, established in 2005, brings together owners and managers of tutorial centres in Mainland China.
Following this pair of events, in 2014 CERC and the UNESCO bureau in Bangkok co-published a booklet entitled Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good: Policy Options for Supplementary Education in Asia. It was written by Mark Bray and Ora Kwo.
On 15 April 2015, Mark Bray and Ora Kwo launched the Chinese translation of the book, entitled 以公众利益规范私人补习：亚洲补习教育之政策选择 at the CETU 10th anniversary conference in Zhengzhou, China. The CETU is a co-publisher of this version, together with the UNESCO office in Beijing.
CERC and the UNESCO Chair at HKU much appreciate these partnerships, which are supported not only by CETU and UNESCO but also by Knowledge Exchange funds provided by HKU. The keynote address helped the CETU members to see themselves in the broader Asian picture. The book also assists both policy makers and practitioners to understand wider contexts for sustainable development in the education sector and contribution to the public good.
Click here for the collection of photos of the event.
UNESCO’s EFA Global Monitoring Report
UNESCO has launched its 2015 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report, which reviews challenges and achievements since the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal. The report can be downloaded here. It will be a core document for the May 2015 World Education Forum in the Republic of Korea, which will look ahead to goals for 2030.
The UNESCO Chair at HKU has a specific focus on shadow education in the EFA agenda. We are glad to find our work highlighted in the report (Box 6.2, page 202). Prof. Mark Bray will himself attend the World Education Forum, and will contribute to discussions about shadow education among other topics.
My Internship Experience with UNESCO II: Collaboration with the UNESCO Chairs
Thea Zhang is from Hangzhou, China. In September 2013, she enrolled in the HKU MEd programme in Comparative and Global Studies in Education and Development (CGSED), completing at the end of August 2014. She moved to Paris to work as an intern at UNESCO Headquarters. Her work focuses on administration of the UNESCO Chairs programme. Here she shares some feelings and experiences after a month in the job.
For many years, UNESCO was for me just a word without any concrete sense except that it had been mentioned in the textbooks and is doing something great out there for the bigger good. Then, I had the chance to come to Hong Kong for the CGSED MEd programme. Its coordinator, Prof. Mark Bray, holds the UNESCO Chair in Comparative Education. So, not surprisingly I found myself learning a lot about UNESCO.
At the start, I was just idealistic (and I still am!). One time I shared with Prof. Bray some of my dreams about the world and my desire to contribute to the cause of education. He replied, nicely of course: “You are still young, and should go out to experience the world.” And then he introduced me to Paulina Gonzales-Pose who is my supervisor now at UNESCO. Somehow, I find myself in this internship – it just happened!
I have so much that I could share. But my priority here is my new understanding about “means and ends”.
Before arriving in Paris I thought that being a part of UNESCO meant that I would be sitting in important conferences, helping with educational policy design and evaluation, and selecting and renewing UNESCO Chairs. Indeed I am doing some of that. I attend meetings with my intern buddies, or sit in my office and listen on the intranet to the interpreters’ version of them. And I have been entrusted with the UNESCO Chairs database which might be the core of the programme. However, most of my daily routine is about the “small things”.
For the old me, this would have been a disappointment. But the “me” at this moment is happier than ever before. I realize that I will always be the girl who writes long emails to friends and teachers about dreams and doubts; I will always be the girl who believes in the power of education; and I will always be the girl who has faith in UNESCO and related bodies even though they are bureaucratic and slow. The “imperfection of the system” pushes me to do something about it, even though my contribution will be small. I also learned that being true to my dreams does not mean that I have to be stubborn. Instead, as long as I am true to myself and keep the big picture in mind, I will still do some good.
So, what is my summary of moving from the academic environment of the HKU MEd programme to the real world of international work? It is: not quite what I expected, yet very rewarding in a different way.
And maybe next time I will tell you about Paris….
My Internship Experience with UNESCO I: New Dream from Fontenoy
by Lin Shumai
For most of the student interns at Place de Fontenoy (UNESCO Headquarters, Paris), UNESCO is a dream come true, it is the same for me. As a student in the Master of Education programme at the University of Hong Kong, there is no learning experience that can be more valuable than seeing the theories in the classrooms be applied in practice, especially on the platform that leads the key international movements in education.
My three-month internship at UNESCO was with the Education for All (EFA) Global Partnerships Team. The EFA movement, launched in 1990 (Jomtien, Thailand) and reaffirmed in 2000 (Dakar, Senegal), is a major global initiative that primarily aims at providing equitable access to quality education for all. Up till now, EFA has made significant achievement in accelerating the enrolment rate to primary school in many regions of the world with disadvantaged educational resources. Meanwhile, a lot of work still remains to be done: along with the other main focuses of UNESCO, such as the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), EFA is moving toward its milestone of 2015, a year in which its goals are supposed to be achieved.
As intern, my role in the team largely depends on the major events that took place: the UNESCO Youth Forum, 37th session of the General Conference, the Regional Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, etc. It was unforgettable to witness some of UNESCO’s historic moments as well. From November 2013, Mme. Irina Bokova started her second term as Director-General and Mr. Hao Ping from China was elected as the new president of UNESCO’s General Conference, which was indeed an inspiring event for me and other interns from China.
Another aspect that impressed me was an inclusive culture created by the colleagues from different countries. Different cultures were respected and appreciated in all forms (languages, clothes, viewpoints, etc.) with a strong common belief that is written in UNESCO’s constitution: Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed. I integrated into the working environment with little effort, not simply because of my French language background, but for the academic training in our faculty and the welcoming culture in UNESCO. Though, just as any other organizations, there is still room for UNESCO to improve, I believe it has set the correct direction for everyone in the world to reflect and to take actions in daily life so as to build the world we want. My goal is to accelerate this process toward a better world through education and both my experience of academic inquiries and this internship are certainly indispensible in this life choice.
I wish to specifically thank my teachers at HKU for their inspiration and constant support, and to thank the Comparative Education Research Centre (CERC) for offering me the chance to build up my ability through its movie platform. It is every little step throughout the way that brought us to the final destination. With the dream come true, a new dream comes along: I believe the light of humanity and education will shine our way on this new journey.
Marking the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
The UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development opened on 10 November 2014 in Nagoya, Japan, to celebrate a decade of action (2005-2014) and to launch a future global ESD program. The 3-day Conference presented successful initiatives from around the world to help to set the agenda beyond 2014.
Among these initiatives was the Sustainability Literacy Test in which HKU is actively participating. The test is a tool for assessment and verification of the sustainability literacy of higher education students, and assesses knowledge in economic, social and environmental responsibility. Conducted as an online survey, the test benchmarks students’ basic knowledge on sustainable development. It also aims to promote both individual and organisational responsibility.
By 17 October 2014, the test had been taken by 24,300 students around the world. A face-to-face meeting was held on 8 November after the GUPES Partnerships Forum in Nagoya University to discuss the next steps. The survey results permitted the first worldwide picture of knowledge on sustainable development of higher education graduates to be presented in the Conference. For information on the Conference, please click here.