As education ministers from around the world prepare for the next Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers (18CCEM), it is important to review progress made in achievement against international goals since the last meeting in 2009. But we also need to ask - what happens next?
These discussions kicked off last week in London at a Policy Briefing organised by the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau. At the event delegates from education ministries across the Commonwealth discussed innovative ways that Commonwealth countries are delivering quality education. The session was led by Cambridge International Examinations, Camfed and High Commissioner of Mauritius (host country of 18CCEM).
Measuring achievement across 54 countries isn't easy but it is fair to say that over the past 3 years many Commonwealth countries have made significant progress towards reaching internationally agreed goals. Mauritius, for example has achieved universal primary education, high participation in secondary education and many of its young people are bilingual and trilingual. We've also seen an outstanding record of Commonwealth countries extending access to education across their population of children.
The questions that should guide what happens next are what kind of education will shape tomorrow's leaders; Which educational practices will most likely transform the enthusiastic five year olds in classrooms today into active citizens with drive, vision, expertise and social commitment, capable of shaping a better world in the second half of the 21st century?
Exciting initiatives that address these questions are already being introduced by many Commonwealth countries, including the UK. This may come as a surprise to some, given the frequent internal criticism of our education system, which often overshadows the value placed on it by countries around the world.
At Cambridge, however, we know from our work with partners in over 30 education ministries that there are many aspects of British education they find appealing, wish to learn from or even integrate into their own system. Singapore is one example that has been recently highlighted for best practice by the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, where we work in partnership to deliver of their curriculum.
What do they like? Our innovative approach to curriculum and assessment, first class teacher training programmes, qualifications that develop creative and independent thinkers, bilingual programmes, programmes that equip students with 21st century skills and prepare them well for university....all the things that will help shape the future leaders of the Commonwealth.
The young people in schools around the Commonwealth today are on track to be the best educated generation ever. They will move into our shoes, better skilled and more creative. They will have well-established links around the world which they have developed through virtual interactions and their own global mobility. They will shape the Commonwealth of the future - if we give them the education they deserve.
Ann Puntis, Chief Executive
Cambridge International Examinations