Expert Forecasts: Eight Global Education Experts Share Their Insights on the Future of Education

As the summer months come to a close, CIEB spoke to members of our International Advisory Board to find out what issues are front of mind for them in today’s ever-evolving world of work and its impact on education.

“If our students are equipped with literacy, numeracy, character development and social emotional competencies, is this enough to prepare them for a much more complex future? This is what we are working very hard on today: projecting forward, we are putting more emphasis on what I call the future competencies, or 21st century competencies. These include competencies like critical and inventive thinking, and how students can be more analytical,  entrepreneurial, innovative and creative.”

Siew Hoong Wong | Director-General of Education, Ministry of Education, Singapore
Pasi Sahlberg | Professor of Education Policy, Gonski Institute for Education at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Former director general at Finland's Ministry of Education

“If I take a look at what has happened during the last three to five years, probably the most important single thing I’ve seen in many parts of the world is the wider recognition of the value that collaboration brings to schooling. Not so long ago teacher collaboration or cooperative learning in the classrooms or school networks where schools work together or education systems collaborating was seen as something that was not necessary or important. But I think the understanding and the research that supports the power of social capital and collaboration is making more of these things happen in many different systems. I think that’s powerful.”

“The issue that occupies my mind is getting a better balance between the career purposes of education, the civic purposes of education and the academic purposes of education…it’s trying to help people break through the notion that there’s somehow a choice you have to make. There’s a massive number of kids who are in significant danger of falling behind right now, never mind what’s going to happen with AI or anything else down the road, and I think that this is due, in large part, to the fact that we’ve not focused on career goals.”

Robert Schwartz | Professor Emeritus of Practice in Education Policy and Administration, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, Former education advisor to the Mayor of Boston and the Governor of Massachusetts
Dylan Wiliam | Emeritus Professor of Educational Assessment, University College London, Former Dean and Head of the School of Education at King's College London

“For me, I think the issue in the United States in particular is how we improve education at scale. I argue there are two things that have particularly powerful impact. One is a knowledge-based curriculum, recognizing that the purpose of curriculum is to build long-term memory into our students and what distinguishes novices from experts is knowledge not skills. And the second one is creating a culture where every teacher accepts the need to improve, not because they’re not good enough, but because they can be even better.”

“We, in the 20th century, were facing a relatively simpler society—although in China we were experiencing a kind of revolution— but everything was more predictable. Now things are fluid, volatile and uncertain. Organizations are getting smaller and smaller, more fragile, flat because pyramidal organizations are disappearing. I’m not interested in the statistics of how many jobs we will require: it’s the fundamental change in society, the whole economic structure. Our education system, which was established basically in the high times of the industrial society, is no longer valid. In this context, re-thinking what education has to do is important.”

Kai-ming Cheng | Emeritus Professor Honorary Director, Education Policy Unit, University of Hong Kong, Member of China's Advisory Committee on Curriculum Reform
Michael Day | Emeritus Professor and Director of the School of Education, University of Roehampton Former executive director of teacher training for the Training and Development Agency for Schools in Manchester, England

“The big issue that concerns me at the moment in the English education system is the supply of high-quality teachers. We’ve seen quality issues in recruitment to teaching and our schools are getting increasingly desperate to find decent teachers. The whole workload issue has come to a big head again in England with teachers having very big workloads and their conditions of service is deteriorating a lot recently. We’re seeing a big exodus in teaching and so of course, we need a bigger inflow to maintain the balance.”

“As a specialist in vocational education and training in Switzerland, I see a big challenge in other countries as they grapple with a huge skills mismatch between their citizen’s education and good jobs in the labor market. The most important discussion nowadays is driven by the digital transformation because that will change a lot of the jobs in the future. Some will disappear, some are new, some will change and the question is who can be ready on time to deliver the best competencies and what are those competencies.”

Ursula Renold | Head of Research Division, Education Systems, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, Former general director of the Swiss Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology
Barry McGaw | Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne, Former executive director of the Australian Council for Educational Research

Curriculum doesn’t achieve everything. You’ve got to have a teacher development program that goes hand in hand with it because it’s not what the curriculum documents are, it’s what actually gets enacted in schools that counts. But you can’t have a curriculum enacted in schools without some specifications so that’s the first step. I think specifications based on learning entitlements, or what a student needs for success in life,  is a useful way to do it.”

For further perspective take a look at The Future of Education and Skills report, part of the OECD Education 2030 project aimed at helping countries find answers to what knowledge, skills, attitudes and values are needed in order to prepare today’s students for the future.