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The UOC joins the UN debate on transforming education
  Pastora Martínez and Gemma Xarles

The UOC was also there, with the presence of Pastora Martínez, our Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, and Gemma Xarles, Director of the Globalization and Cooperation department.

Virgínia Sánchez

More than 150 ministries of education from around the world took part in the Transforming Education Pre-Summit organized by UNESCO in Paris

Discussing the transformation of education, contributing to priority actions and beginning to define the educational commitments of UN Member States: these were the objectives of the pre-summit held by UNESCO in Paris from 28 to 30 June. Ministers and heads of education policy from 154 countries came together at the event, which saw the participation of close to 2,000 people, including youth activists, education experts, civil society and the private sector. The UOC was also there, with the presence of Pastora Martínez Samper, our Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation, and Gemma Xarles Jubany, Director of the Globalization and Cooperation department.

Inclusivity, quality in learning, the role of teaching staff, the digital transformation and appropriate financing were the main focuses of the encounter, which is the prelude to the Transforming Education Head of State-level Summit, convened by UN Secretary-General António Guterres in New York this September. "The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the shortcomings of education systems, already pointed to by SDG 4, to be able to guarantee quality education for all," explained Martínez. 

Despite the fact that, initially, the role of higher education institutions was not considered in the summit's working documents, through the participation of universities, including the UOC, the Spanish Ministry of Universities and international networks like the International Association of Universities, during the preliminary debates and at the Paris pre-summit, this absence was (at least in part) remedied. "The role of universities, and particularly those – like ours – with experience in online education, is crucial in fostering this transformation, which needs to equip people with the skills required in these uncertain times, with a pressing climate crisis; to train teaching staff to ensure they can successfully tackle educational challenges and to incorporate technology to improve access and educational coverage," stated the vice president.

UNESCO has identified five priority thematic action tracks with a view to the Head of State-level Summit in September: inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools; learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development; teachers, teaching and the teaching profession; digital learning and transformation, and financing of education. To agree the roadmap to 2030, it has organized online meetings and discussion forums, in which the UOC has also participated to emphasize the importance of including higher education in the action tracks: "The challenges faced by education on a global level are very different depending upon the regions and territories in question," noted Gemma Xarles, "but higher education needs to be included in this transformation of education because, in today's world, it is these studies that give people greater opportunities to choose the life they want to live and the positions from which they can contribute to building fairer societies. What's more, by leveraging the knowledge created in universities and transmitted by teaching staff, we can transition towards a citizenry that is more aware of and responsible regarding the challenges surrounding us, to bring about changes in and for the future."

During the pre-summit, governments were also urged to consolidate national consultations on their own action plans as they prepare for the September summit, where heads of state and governments will announce their national commitments to transforming education.

UOC experts

Photograph of Pastora Martínez

Pastora Martínez Samper

Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation

Expert in: Management and assessment of research, responsible research and innovation, and open science.

Knowledge area: Political science.

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Gemma Xarles

Director of the Globalization and Cooperation department