Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future: Excellence and Equity for all
Teachers, students, parents, and policymakers have demonstrated incredible resilience and ingenuity in the face of COVID-19. But even as recovery begins, the challenges remain: systemic teacher shortages, uncertainty about ongoing quarantines; the tall order of providing authentic, student-centered learning experiences in blended or virtual environments; and the urgency of ensuring that the most vulnerable populations, disproportionately affected by the pandemic, are able to recover and thrive. Teachers are facing the heroic challenge of serving all their students’ needs, equitably and holistically, even as both students and teachers have suffered during the pandemic.
It has also become clear that an opportunity is embedded in the crisis. Teachers and policymakers can come together to reimagine education systems that have struggled to serve all students and teachers well in the past. In so doing they can “build back better” around a new vision for education that serves all students equitably no matter their individual needs, contexts or geographies.
It was in the context of the pandemic’s challenges and opportunities that teachers’ union leaders and education ministers from 15 countries came together for the 2021 International Summit on the Teaching Profession (ISTP) this October. ISTPs are unique. They are the only international event that brings education ministers and union leaders together to discuss practical steps to improve education. Participants include governments and union leaders from a number of high-performing or rapidly improving school systems as measured by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Every year, it has been co-hosted by Education International (EI), OECD, and one participating country. As with every ISTP, Anthony Mackay, CEO and Board Chair of the National Center on Education and the Economy, served as the moderator.