SDG4 Education: Global standards or standardisation? (Part I)

One of my articles on this topic were before the pandemics  for whom I was focused on nationalism and populism as the extreme expression of anti-global initiatives. However, it seems that after all happened, its more than evident that the stress is on the people rather than on institutions or the political sector. 

The sense of “global action” was strongly -and naturally- furthered by this pandemics , making of any attempt to see national action exclusively, totally obsolete and ineffective.  The same happen at the Educational level, not only for the lockdown that forces to enter into the “homeschooling era”* but for the own needs of each family that turns business and professional careers upside down along their habits and daily routine.  It has a negative impact on the Education system that perfectly fine would have been reduced if they were more awareness of the need to introduce technology.  A fierce rejection to “exposure children to screens” prevent to enter into a digital Educational system from a less traumatic shape. The idea that digitalisation is not compatible with a “healthy childhood” is going against a natural process of welcoming a new era, and, as seen during COVID19, makes us less resilient. Is the skilful game of combining both “worlds” that might lead us into balance. 

 A future based on artificial intelligence supposes new mental structures and holistic relations that make us more efficient humans assisted by technology and no less human and more robots. 

Homeschooling and its regulation becomes key and despite the general perception -actually accurate- that children needs present Education, is it also true that the capacity to be flexible is one of the assets to get into sustainability. Is it here that we need Global Education, as SDG 4 states: to gain accessibility and improve quality. Is not exactly a matter of equal types of Education systems, but diverse systems within a framework on accessibility, making sure that all Nations comply with the commitment of creating an updated system.The quality its quite a different aspect that involves measures: complex and inaccurate, tend to become part of a centralised system unable to integrate all indicators worldwide and get into fair results around a only-one concept of quality.

“….inaccuracy. A school can have a good reputation or impressive test scores because it caters to a privileged population. But, as research indicates, these high-scoring schools often add less value than some of their competitors with lesser reputations or lower scores”*

Besides, is important to take into account that building pillars around quality Education should not be an excuse for a tutelage of Nations, is it only an opportunity to learn from each other by knowledge sharing, maximising technology opportunities.Making an inclusive process towards Agenda 2030 is it key, if not we are going to leave behind many countries that because of politics or traditions reject the idea of a centralised power.

The construction of a global model is precisely about decentralisation not making of each country a subordinated entity. Globalisation supposes equality on leadership and a general framework that boost a sustainability system without a central authority or/and “abstract” standards.

Global Goals are not about standardisation, but an invitation for more integration of cultures, traditions, and religions, instead -main reason to reject the Agenda 2030- it looks as if there is no distinction and Education has to be followed by global standards within homogeneity and imposed rules. Lets be accurate, SDG4 Education is a commitment for each Nation to build their own system, particularly in relation to accessibility that is translated basically into allocating financial and human resources by learning from other models. Is not exactly what is happening and Education is not a priority on the political Agenda of many countries. 

The fact is that Education is an axis for the rest of the goals making of it a Goal Number 1* to put it before the others. Without Education, there is not access to basic needs like Health, or even more to the awareness to build sustainable societies and the achievement of the whole goals.For instance, Sustainable cities demand not just financial support and political will to invest on architecture, urban planning, energy saving, etc. they do need Education to make of their citizens active players of a game on resilience. A complicity that demand a quality Education that lead individuals into active actors towards a goal on Sustainability.

Is it important to create the correct local framework within international support to assure access to the system without global standards, although within global connections and mutual support. The flexibility that the system would eventually deliver is key to gain trust and confidence in a process that come from global initiative, although is entirely responsibility and management from Nations.

A global approach is different from a global Education, in fact it is precisely what needs to be avoid, in the sense that not all cultures and religions would feel aligned with a global standard. That is key to achieve SDG 4: the capacity to draw open frameworks that guide Nations, instead of standarise Education worldwide. Achieving quality and accessibility is not about equal Nations, but equality inside each Nation. United Nations is not about all members holding the same ideology or international policies, but the capacity to build bridges within wide goals as e.g. peace. As a matter of fact is the tolerance and acceptance to others differences that enriches the organisation and makes each of them grow . A rule that applies to all Global Goals without distinction and addressing from global mindset within a local spirit, and empowered action is the real focus to reform and thrive towards a globalisation system. 

Its indeed a challenge to work on the weakness of the Agenda 2030: homogeneity and radical differences among Nations. traditions and cultures that interfere into the Educational system   and weakened the process of achieving a Global Goal. For several reasons: the idea that they are losing sovereignty if they accept external conditions, then, their biases to unite with other countries that consider “enemies” in political terms, also the fact of shortage of financial resources that make them unable to make reforms accordingly to more developed countries. All facts to take into account in order to look at SDG 4 through the lenses of a framework rather than standards. We agree that accessibility is the aspect that goes before quality, and is quite foreseeable that for the Agenda 2020 it will be the only one that eventually may be achieved. Technology is on our side, although not political will to do so. Paradoxically is it a political process for a strict expertise goal that eventually would demand global measures. How may be an standardisation when there is not even harmonisation of Education systems? 

There is no such a “Global Education” to achieve, although there is a need to establish a global purpose on joint action efforts to gain accessibility for all by supporting Nations with low digital access as well as raising quality among the more developed ones.  Keeping the balance 

Within an spirit of collaborations rather than centralised standards that lead into a true standardisation of the system without contemplating diversity on cultures and traditions 

For an ambitious goal on equal and quality Education we do need an ambitious and realistic goal for a globalisation model updated to the current crisis times.

Globalisation is integration of a colourful diversity, not a grey standardisation out of the magic of traditions, cultures, religions and specific idiosyncrasy of each and all Nations. 

Global standards is a framework and we need to make sure that we do not fall into standardisation 

*On the next Edition Part II we are going to go address the impact of SDG4 on international cooperation and humanitarian aid

*”Homeschooling if its not now, when? Mar Introini. 

*Quality Education: measures

https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/opinion-how-to-measure-school-quality/2013/10

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