WISE-LIFE China Forum focuses on equity and empowerment in education

Tribune News Network
The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) recently hosted the WISE-LIFE China Education Forum in Beijing in collaboration with the 21st Century Education Research Institute.
Held under the theme 'Innovating for Equity and Empowerment', the one-day engagement brought together some 600 education innovators, leaders and decision makers from China and more than 20 countries worldwide.
During the forum, WISE announced that the next global WISE Summit will take place in Doha from November 14 to 16, 2017. WISE said that the global summit has shifted to a biennial event, allowing a greater focus on smaller regional engagements on developing new WISE research and enriching existing programmes.
The WISE-LIFE Forum (Learners Innovation Forum on Education) in Beijing explored and encouraged innovative practices and ideas to promote equitable education as an empowering force.
The forum's sessions included discussions on frugal innovation, education for rural and migrant children, 21st century skills and promoting education equity in China and around the world.
The event, which took place during the Qatar-China Year of Culture, is a timely opportunity to further explore collaboration between the two countries. It aims to deepen mutual understanding and celebrate common values between the two cultures, removing barriers and opening minds.
WISE CEO Stavros N Yiannouka said the Beijing engagement was"an important opportunity to explore local needs through global perspectives."
He said that an innovative education environment would support 21st century skills"such as critical thinking, cooperation, creativity and communication to prosper."
Through innovation, he pointed out,"there is hope to improve the quality of education and overcome the serious drawbacks of exam-oriented education to bring up capable, creative citizens of tomorrow."
Prof Yang Dongping, president of the China-based 21st Century Education Research Institute, said innovation in education was crucial to reform and that technology was only a tool."Even more, we need autonomy, openness, individuality, interaction, decentralisation, anti-bureaucracy, anti-authoritarianism, public engagement, information dissemination and resources sharing. We need to integrate these into our school systems if revolutionary changes are to happen in education," he said.
Valerie Hannon, co-author of the WISE book Learning a Living, and board director of the London-based Innovation Unit, said,"Concentrating on 21st century skills is not enough. Young people need a sense of authentic purpose and agency if they are to thrive."
She said that creativity should be rooted in"the whole education chain," and that"no matter how technology and society advance, creativity is still one of the core skills" an individual needs.
Other speakers included Mervi Jansson-Aalto, director of Omnia Education Partnerships; Shannon May, co-founder of Bridge International Academies, which provide low-cost, quality education in several African countries; Anthony Mackay, CEO of the Center for Strategic Education in Australia; and Charles Leadbeater, author of Innovation in Education, a WISE book.
In a session during the forum, the Mandarin editions of the three WISE books were presented, published by China Renmin University Press (CRUP), the oldest university press in China and one of the most respected.
Some of the WISE authors and contributors to the books joined the session as well as a photo exhibition and took part in panel discussions during the forum.
The WISE books are 'Innovation in Education', 'Learning a Living', and 'Learning [Re] imagined'.
The 2016 WISE Awards winning projects were celebrated in another special session at the WISE-LIFE China Forum. Short films about the projects were screened and representatives of the six projects described their work. WISE welcomes applications and nominations for the 2017 WISE Awards until January 17, 2017.
Several members of the WISE Learners' Voice also presented two projects at the forum under development by this year's cohort.