3rd Asia-Pacific Meeting on Education 2030 (APMED2030)
From 4-7 July 2017, UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education convened government personnel and counterparts from 33 countries to assess progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
UNESCO Chairholder Mark Bray contributed to discussions. He was a member of the drafting committee for the outcome statement, and on behalf of the network of Education Research Institutes (ERI-net) highlighted ways in which the research community can contribute to the work of policy makers. In addition, HKU’s Samuel Chu highlighted the potential of computer games to shape young people’s values in a positive way.
The meeting particularly focused on SDG 4.7, which aims by 2030 to “ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”. Participants noted challenges in implementation and monitoring, graphically expressed by a cartoonist during the event.
SEAMEO International Congress on Education
The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) was established in 1965 to promote regional cooperation in education, science and culture, and has 11 member states. In May 2017 the SEAMEO Secretariat convened an International Congress on Education for the 21st Century. Hosted in conjunction with the Thailand Ministry of Education, the Congress:
- provided a platform for conversations on experiences in implementing the SEAMEO Education Agenda, including on sustainable development
- enhanced awareness of regional and national programmes and action plans, and
- promoted regional understanding, commitment to shared action, and cooperation among education actors and stakeholders.
Mark Bray gave an invited presentation under the heading ‘Making Accessible and Inclusive Quality Happen’. He highlighted the expansion of shadow education, noting that it was usually exclusive rather than inclusive and not always of good quality. Side discussions are leading to inclusion of indicators of the scale of shadow education in the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) survey.
Working with Local Schools
The HKU UNESCO Chair is glad to collaborate with the UNESCO Hong Kong Association, which itself is working closely with local schools on themes of peace and sustainable development.
On 18 February 2017 the Association organised its 5th Peacemakers’ Cultural Celebration – another dynamic event with practical activities to operationalise conceptual themes and great community building.
And on 18 March 2017 the Association organised a ceremony for presentation of awards wrapping up the year’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Learning Programme. Professor Mark Bray was the Guest of Honour, and applauded the enthusiasm and commitment shown by the workshops, field trips, reports and presentations.
CIES Presidential Address
In March 2016, Mark Bray was elected to the Presidency of the US-based Comparative and International Education Society (CIES). This is the oldest and largest society in the field, established in 1956 and having over 3,000 members.
At the 61st annual conference, 6-9 March 2017 in Atlanta, USA, Mark Bray concluded his work with a Presidential Address. It was entitled ‘Schooling and its Supplements: Changing Global Patterns and Implications for Comparative Education’. It drew on his extensive work on the so-called shadow education system of supplementary private tutoring. The lecture may be viewed here, and will in due course be published in the Society’s flagship journal Comparative Education Review.
Mark Bray retains a CIES leadership role within the CIES as immediate Past-President on the Board of Directors.
Upgrading and Regulating the Tutoring Industry in China
The tutoring industry in China, as elsewhere, is developing at great speed. The number of tutors now approximates the number of teachers. The sector thus has far-reaching influence on the lives of children and families, and is a major employer.
China’s authorities are concerned about standards in the industry, and perceive a need to regulate the competences of tutors. They asked the Chinese Society of Education (CSE), which was established in 1979 and acts as a bridge between the Ministry of Education and other actors, to consult key players on scope and mechanisms for regulation. A draft document has been prepared.
On 27 December 2016, the CSE convened a major conference in Beijing to consider the matter. Mark Bray made an opening statement calling attention to UNESCO goals, and he and Ora Kwo then jointly presented a keynote address. Their messages drew attention to social responsibilities, and gave prominence to the Chinese translation of their book Regulating Private Tutoring for Public Good that had been co-published in 2015 by the HKU Comparative Education Research Centre, UNESCO-Beijing, and the China Education Training Union.
The whole-day event attracted major players from the tutoring industry, and considerable press coverage. Ora Kwo has been appointed to a 10-person committee to take proposals to the next stage.
ERI-Net Meeting in Bangkok
HKU was well represented at a 24-25 November 2016 meeting hosted by UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting gave a new thrust to the Education Research Institutes Network (ERI-Net). Professors Cheng Kai-Ming and Mark Bray were resource persons, facilitating discussions and moderating sessions; and Feng Siyuan, a PhD student at HKU had his first experience of such work.
ERI-Net had been established in 2009, bringing together a set of research institutions in the region among which bodies from 15 countries were represented in the meeting. The principal agenda was to focus ERI-Net on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particularly SDG4 ‘Education 2030’.
Colleagues associated with the HKU UNESCO Chair look forward to continued collaboration with counterparts in ERI-Net, especially on the theme of equitable access to quality education.
Advancing Understanding of Shadow Education in Myanmar
In October 2016, following a keynote address the previous July at a Forum on Basic Education hosted by Myanmar’s government (see below), Professor Mark Bray returned to Myanmar with three colleagues for a scoping study of shadow education. The colleagues were Ora Kwo, Nutsa Kobakhidze and Zhang Wei.
The team had an intensive set of meetings, commencing with the UNESCO office in Yangon which is sponsoring the study. They met with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and with Directors General of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Department of Education Research, Planning and Training (DERPT).
Other meetings to sharpen the parameters of the study were held in the Yangon Regional Office for Education, the Yangon University of Education, and with officers of the Myanmar Teachers’ Federation.
Private tuition has a long history in Myanmar, but in recent years has increased in intensity and has implications for many dimensions of the education reform on which the Ministry of Education is embarking. The research study will particularly focus on the roles of teachers at the level of secondary education, and will lead to policy recommendations.
Myanmar: Launching a New Phase in Educational Development
Myanmar has been in a new era since the assumption of office on 30 March 2016 of the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi. The new government is determined to bring change, and places education high on the list of priorities.
On 21 and 22 July 2016, the Ministry of Education hosted a forum on basic education in Naypyitaw, the nation’s capital. Approximately 700 persons assembled from all over the country, representing every level in administration of the education system. Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education, was privileged to deliver the opening keynote address entitled ‘Control of Education: Issues and Tensions in Centralization and Decentralization’. The forum was opened by Aung San Suu Kyi, and Mark Bray took the opportunity to thank her for accepting an Honorary Doctorate from HKU in 2012.
During the address, Mark Bray recalled his own links with Myanmar, including participation in the UNESCO-sponsored Education Sector Study in 1990/91and the 2012 multi-donor partnership to chart directions in the education and health sectors. He also noted other links between HKU and Myanmar, including the programmes through which HKU students can teach English.
The next stage of collaboration with Myanmar under the umbrella of the UNESCO chair will focus on shadow education. It is expected to begin with collection of data on the roles of regular teachers in private tutoring, and will proceed to policy dialogue among stakeholders.
Disseminating the Shadow Education Data in Cambodia
With resourcing from Hong Kong’s General Research Fund, Mark Bray has led a team to collect data on shadow education in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. The work has been conducted in partnership with an NGO entitled This Life Cambodia.
The research, which built on earlier work in Cambodia published by UNESCO-IIEP and by CERC, found high rates of shadow education. Among sampled students in Grades 9 and 12, 82% received private supplementary lessons. Half of these students received the lessons from their existing teachers on the school premises, and most of the remainder received the lessons from other teachers in their schools. These findings have major implications for education and society. Some students are excluded and feel deprived of the full curriculum, and the costs for some families are a heavy burden. Also elements of corruption arise when some teachers deliberately teach only part of the curriculum during regular lessons in order to promote demand for private classes.
In April 2016 Mark Bray travelled again to Cambodia Phnom Penh with two team members, namely Zhang Wei and Liu Junyan (picturedoutside the UNESCO office). They reported the research findings to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and to the Education Sector Working Group (ESWG) of international agencies and NGOs. Their summary report outlined the research and is now being translated into Khmer for further dissemination.
Separately the team met Anne Lemaistre, who heads the UNESCO office, and colleagues in her Education Sector team. They noted the ways in which shadow education has evolved over the decades, and its far-reaching implications for the UNESCO agenda of equitable access to quality education for all. The research findings will be disseminated further through UNESCO’s advocacy and awareness-raising.
My Internship with UNESCO UIL
Ellie Cheung, EdD 2nd year student
It has been my wish for so many years to have an opportunity to work at UNESCO. My undergraduate studies in German and my experiences in different education sectors from primary to tertiary prompted me to apply for an internship at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in Hamburg, Germany.
UIL is one of UNESCO’s seven Category I Institutes in the education sector, and gave me a three-month internship from January to April 2016. I was able to learn more about lifelong learning, which is among the core goals in our education system.
I was assigned to work under UIL’s two flagship activities: the Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) and the Global Observatory of Recognition, Validation and Accreditation (RVA). My duties included research on the key features of Learning Cities, facilitating the GNLC membership applications, work on the RVA website, and writing the Hong Kong profile and case study on the RVA of non-formal and informal learning. I also helped prepare an annotated bibliography on green skills, and researched on the development of lifelong learning concepts.
During my stay, I learned from internal sharing and even international conferences. Near the end I attended the International Workshop on ‘How Libraries Support National Literacy Efforts’ as an observer. I experienced how the two-day workshop could be organized effectively, connecting professionals from all over the world. It produced recommendations on how governments can engage libraries to enhance national literacy.
UN70 Peace and Sustainable Development Youth Festival
The UNESCO Hong Kong Association organised another very successful event on 9 April 2016. Attracting people from all walks of life, the programme helps local and overseas youths to deepen understanding of UNESCO’s core mission while celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations (UN). Schools and other bodies arranged booths designed by local and international students. The event included discovery workshops, cultural performances, and an exhibition of the history of the UN.
As UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education, Mark Bray attended the opening ceremony together with personnel from the international and diplomatic communities. Two MEd students in the HKU programme in Comparative & Global Studies in Education & Development (CGSED), Liu Meng and Wang Yawei joined as volunteers to help manage the event.
Liu Meng has been an intern with UNESCO-HK since September 2015. “Through such lively experience,” she said, “we had an in-depth knowledge of UNESCO’s work, which is a good supplement to what we have learned in the class”. Communicating with these professionals from various fields, she was impressed by the selfless contribution to UNESCO’s work by active professionals and retirees.
The MEd students also took part in the discovery workshops which focused on globalization, global citizenship education, sustainable development, peace & technology, peace & cultural diversity, climate change, ecological civilization, equality issues, and cultural preservation. They felt that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were not merely concepts to be learned about in the classroom. Instead, they observed, the SDGs were displayed in an interesting way and linked to daily life. In this way, they felt, the general public, and especially the children and youth, were helped to understand peace and sustainability in concrete terms.
Welcoming a Shadow Education Researcher from Europe
The UNESCO Chair has a particular focus on the shadow education system of private supplementary tutoring. The HKU team is pleased to welcome visitors, among whom has been Vít Šťastný from Charles University in Prague. Vít is among the few Czech researchers working on this theme, in his fourth year of PhD studies. He found the resources to spend the month of November in HKU, and we feel that it was very beneficial for both sides. Below are some of Vít’s reflections.
Academic research on shadow education is still in its infancy in the Czech Republic. Therefore, I was very keen to visit CERC to discuss themes with other PhD scholars and with established researchers. My university indicated that it could provide financial support through its Mobility Fund at the university level and what is called SVV 22015-260228 at the faculty level. I was very pleased when Professor Mark Bray accepted my request to visit and allowed me to join CERC for one month.
On my first day, I presented findings from my research in the Czech Republic to members of the shadow education Special Interest Group (SIG). It was very valuable to discuss, compare and defend my results in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere; and by meeting the colleagues on the first day, I had immediately established contacts for follow-up discussion.
Later that week I joined the launch of the new CERC book Researching Private Supplementary Tutoring: Methodological Lessons from Diverse Cultures. Two of the editors, Mark Bray and Ora Kwo, led the discussions in conjunction with Zhang Wei who had completed her PhD thesis on this topic in China and with Kevin Yung and Nutsa Kobakhidze who are PhD students working on Hong Kong and Georgia respectively. This is the first book to focus on methods in this explicit field. The launch showed ways in which it had been a community-building exercise for the contributors themselves.
I also wanted of course to learn more about Hong Kong and broader affairs. CERC has many other dimensions to its work, and I was able to join a dozen seminars on a range of topics. I joined several MEd classes in which I found a very vibrant atmosphere. I was able to learn about dimensions of education policy, particularly on language and on dimensions of equity. Through the discussions, I reflected on my own society and in this respect learned even about the Czech education system!
The integration into the SIG and feedback from the CERC colleagues made me think about shadow education in a wider perspective and conceptualize my findings on a global scale rather than just the European or national context. It was a great privilege and benefit, for which I express appreciation to both CERC and my own University.
I shall also be glad to continue the discussions. Readers are invited to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Learning by Doing
The UNESCO Chair is glad to work with many partners, among which is the UNESCO Hong Kong Association. Liu Meng is a student on the HKU MEd programme in Comparative and Global Studies in Education and Development (CGSED).She is undertaking an internship with UNESCO-HK, learning a great deal in the process. Here she explains the nature of the work.
I started my internship in UNESCO-HK in October 2015. The Association has main aims:
· upholding the mission and objectives of UNESCO,
· launching programmes and activities in accordance with UNESCO objectives,
· leveraging Hong Kong's technology and talents to best support long-term development both locally and in Mainland China, and
· strengthening Hong Kong's roles in international affairs.
UNESCO-HK has only a small team, which is both a challenge and an opportunity for me.
I have already helped to coordinate two events: the Kick-off Ceremony of 2015/16 Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Learning programme, and the UNESCO-HK Association cum Lions Club launch of the United Nations 70th anniversary. I have also helped to write proposals and press releases. These tasks gave me a deeper understanding of the UNESCO mission, and I can practice the knowledge I learned at HKU.
Looking ahead, I will take charge of the UN70 Exhibition in the Hong Kong central library, and will assist in the Peace and ESD learning programmes. I really appreciate the synergies with my studies. The CGSED programme provides theoretical knowledge in comparative and development education, and the UNESCO-HK work provides practical realities.
UNESCO-IIEP Materials Translated into Thai
In January 2013, HKU’s Comparative Education Research Centre welcomed three staff from UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), 67 early/mid-career professionals from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, and six coordinators from partner institutions in those countries, for a one-week training workshop. The programme included sessions taught by the IIEP staff, sessions taught by HKU staff, and school visits. It was part of the IIEP training on Education Sector Planning. The JP Morgan Chase Foundation provided the funding.
The training materials have been translated adapted for further capacity development and translated into Thai. Further training has reached 25 personnel in Thailand. UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (Bangkok) provides details here.
Papua New Guinea Celebrates 40 Years of Nation-building through Education
In September 2015, the University of Goroka hosted a National Education Conference to mark four decades of progress since Papua New Guinea (PNG) achieved Independence on 16 September 1975.
Mark Bray had worked in PNG during its first decade, and was invited back as the opening keynote speaker. His address, entitled ‘Educational Planning: Looking Back for Looking Forward’ focused on his work with the national and provincial governments and the University of Papua New Guinea. He recalled his 1984 book Educational Planning in a Decentralised System: The Papua New Guinean Experience, and linked it to subsequent global developments as perceived from UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP).
The conference was attended by primary and secondary teachers, administrators, church officials, government officers and academics. It highlighted great achievements during the decades, albeit with much remaining to be done.
A video news clip of the event may be accessed here.
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.