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Past Event

Education systems transformation symposium

Collaborative work, local contexts, and false dichotomies

Past Event

Education systems transformation symposium: Opening plenary

In response to the global crisis in education, thousands of education actors from around the world came together for the Transforming Education Summit during the U.N. General Assembly this past September to discuss systemic issues of equity, inclusion, quality, and relevance. From climate emergencies to the rise of fake news to public health crises, education systems must not only equip the next generation with the skills needed to read, write, and count, but to actively problem-solve and think creatively in today’s rapidly changing world. To help reach Sustainable Development Goal 4, it is essential to transform education systems to meet the needs of today’s learners and deliver a breadth of skills equitably to all children.

The Center for Universal Education (CUE) at Brookings hosted a symposium on education systems transformation on Friday, February 17 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. As a celebration of its 20th anniversary, the center launched its new 10-year strategy focusing on systems transformation for holistic education, locally defined priorities, and collaboration in bringing research to practice across education ecosystems. The event explored some of the false dichotomies that often characterize education systems transformation—foundational versus holistic learning, local versus global focus, and policy versus practice—and examined the critical role of systems transformation across CUE’s and partners’ diverse work portfolios.

The opening and closing sessions were livestreamed for remote audiences.

The rest of the event featured interactive in-person sessions and ample networking time as we work and learn together about transforming systems. Breakout workshops explored connections between system transformation and core research priorities: gender-transformative education, family and school collaboration, scaling interventions, and cost and real-time data for outcomes. Roundtable sessions unpacked emerging areas of study including artificial intelligence and the future of education, innovative pedagogies, and climate education. The closing session featured an important announcement about how local civil society organizations can join CUE in co-designing a research agenda for systems transformation—and the requirements and benefits of doing so.

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First connection

Coffee, light refreshments, and networking

Opening plenary session

Whys and hows of education system transformation

In this opening session, participants will learn about CUE’s past and present work and hear about ongoing efforts to create systems transformation in education.

Systems transformation world café discussions

Coffee break

Workshop 1

Costing for outcomes: Cost data in education and early childhood

Throughout the session, audience members will learn about the background of costing tools leading to the development of the Childhood Cost Calculator (C3) and actively engage in costing reflections.

Wendy Smith

Director of Education Programs - Worldreader

Workshop 2

Transformative family, school, and community engagement: Building trust through intentional conversations

The Family, School, and Community Engagement team at Brookings will share global research on parent, teacher, and student beliefs on education, and barriers and opportunities for engagement spanning four continents.

Akilah Allen

Senior Project Manager - Center for Universal Education, Brookings Institution

Laura Nora

Senior Research Analyst - Center for Universal Education, Brookings Institution

Workshop 3

Gender-transformative education: Collective knowledge and power

Through participatory methods that CUE has mobilized and developed in collaboration with partners across the Global South, participants will explore the intersections of gender and education with other social and economic systems.

Workshop 4

Millions Learning: The past, present, and future of scaling

This interactive workshop will delve into key questions about how to define scaling, the relationship between scaling and systems transformation, and what CUE teams are learning from two on-going action research projects to investigate how scaling innovations in education systems happens in real time.


Roundtable 1

The future of AI and education: The metaverse, ChatGPT, and beyond

Participants will engage in discussions focusing on AI, Bots, and the question of what we can do in AI labs to get kids to be part of the process.

David Jarboe

Director of Instructional Technology & STEAM - Colorado Springs Harrison District 2 Schools

Roundtable 2

Transforming real-time data collection: Digital tools for education

This session will highlight the transformative role digital technologies can play in and out of the classroom.

Roundtable 3

Climate-smart education: What does it look like and how to get there?

This session will explore systems-level entry points to urgently advance climate resilience and action in and through education.

Anna Maria Tammi

Education Specialist and Thematic Lead for Education in Crisis and Conflict - Global Partnership for Education.

Roundtable 4

Innovative pedagogy: Its role in scaling quality education and transforming systems

This roundtable discussion will explore the concept of innovative pedagogies—what counts as an innovative pedagogy, what examples we can see around the world, and what role they play in transforming systems to enable all children to develop a breadth of skills.

Coffee break

Closing plenary panel

The role of civil society organizations in education systems transformation

In this panel conversation, we will explore where, when, and how CSOs have (or have not) taken on these roles and conclude with the launching of CUEs new strategy to form a global leadership coalition of CSOs working on education systems transformation around the world, with a particular focus in the Global South.


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