Calling for an Educational Revolution: For the sustainable future we want


ICDE Secretary General was invited to present at the UNISA Council on 14 September 2016, in Pretoria, South Africa.

This was a timely collaboration since both ICDE and UNISA are looking at future strategies. View the presentation given and read the call text given to the council members for an Educational Revolution: For the future we want! 

Calling for an Educational Revolution: For the sustainable future we want
14 September 2016, UNISA, Pretoria, South Africa


I am honoured and delighted to be invited to speak for the UNISA council. UNISA is a lighthouse, a flagship for fair, open and distance education – not only in South Africa, but in all regions of the world. I am sure UNISA also will be in the future, for inspiration for all of us.

While UNISA is looking at strategies for the future – ICDE has a similar process – to have decided a new Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2020. I am happy to share some of the observations, analysis and suggestions from that work.

Never before has the world been up to such recognised, big challenges as today, addressed by the new Sustainable Development Goals – and never before have the need for building a sustainable future through innovation of education been more important.

At the same time, never before have the opportunities for building a sustainable future beneficial for all been better. 

When we look at higher education – enrolment globally has doubled since 2000 – and shall according to forecasts more than double towards 2030. In Africa south of Sahara, the numbers are expected to be even bigger.

The elearning market is this year stipulated to more the 165 billion USD – and is according to World Economic Forum expected grow to amazing 255 billion USD in 2017 – it is booming.

Many new actors enter the educational market place offering all kind of technology supported education.

How can we ensure that this future educational market – for students will be the fair, accessible, affordable inclusive, equitable and offer the quality education we want?

Having artificial intelligence, cognitive technology, robots and big data in mind, how can we ensure that the future development in education will be in the interest of humanity, in the interest of people, will follow sound ethical standards and defending education as a public good? 

For education the situation is that while our leaders have agreed in ambitious goals, SDG Education 2030, the first status shows we are far from achieving them if things continue as now. 

Key targets set to be met by 2030 ,like “Universal Upper secondary completion”, will in Sub-Saharan Africa first be reached after 2100.

The situation is so serious the UNESCO calls for a “fundamentally change if we are to reach our global development goals”.

The Globe has got a framework for joint actions for Education 2030 – now we need to see that the issues we are up against are understood, the directions are right and a number of sound actions can create that educational revolutions we need – for the sustainable future we want.

This speech will after a brief introduction of ICDE, give a rough picture on how South Africa is seen from the outside – through a number of indicators, then I will outline those trends that ICDE observes as important for educational development, in particular higher education, the next years. Next will be to summarize how the new SDGs address education as a priority for achieving the future we want, including indicating state of play, based on the recent Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO.  Quality education is a key for Education 2030 – and initiatives relevant for higher education that will be rolled out by UNESCO and ICDE will be discussed.  Finally, the key messages based on this overview will be summarized:

A call for an Educational Revolution for the sustainable future we want

  • Quality first: quality digital, open and flexible education

  • Collaboration: on all levels, on content, courses programmes, methodologies, infrastructure, internationalisation….

  • Take leadership for change: for the future we want – lead educational transformation

NewsRita Chan