'To school or not' – Experts from Colombia and India take the debate to the decision makers
Education reformer Michael Fullan was so convincing at the Education Fast Forward 8 (EFF8) online debate last year that you had to ask why, if politicians favour evidence-based policy decisions, they are so hopeless at making them.
The good news is that EFF9 has pulled in another two world class educators – Vicky Colbert (pictured), founder and director of Colombia's Escuela Nueva, and Ramji Raghavan, the social entrepreneur founder and chairman of India's Agastya International Foundation – for its new debate, "To school or not to school”, among the 50 or so expected education ministers at the annual Education World Forum (EWF) in London today (January 20).
Recent EFF debates have been part of a continuum to the perfectly placed EFF9 at the EWF at Central Hall, Westminster. This annual event has been built up since 2002 and despite the axing of funding when the new Coalition Government dispensed with its main funder Becta, deft footwork by BESA (the British Educational Suppliers Association) and its collaborators and other sponsors kept the event alive until the new crop of poiticians could grasp its significance and importance. That's because some of the top education reformers and analysts are on hand to present and debate with education ministers who have agendas for change.
Technology a key theme for the Education World Forum
Technology is a key theme for EWF and many of the ministers and their advisers move on to visit the BETT 2014 education technology show in London's Docklands so the event also serves as a shop window for the UK's educational technology suppliers. But the EFF9 event isn't restricted to Westminster as it is streamed live across the internet vis the Promethean Planet portal, with the debate continuing on social media and Twitter contributions feeding back into the global debate conducted on high-quality video with contributors and special guests in Cisco PelePresence studios in Australia, Brazil, France, Hong Kong, Hungary, Lebanon, Russia, South Korea and the USA.
Promethean education officer Jim Wynne moderates the event after it is opened by former Zimbabwean education minister David Coltart. The first presentation comes from Indian educator and entrepreneur Ramji Raghavan (see video below), a world renowned speaker, who helped create new models for schooling with the Agastya International Foundation, which has successfully brought learning to children formerly beyond the reach of schools. He is also a member of the Karnataka State Innovation Council, a board member of Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous Indian Government organisation, executive committee member of the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum and has served as a member of a working group of the prime minister’s National Knowledge Commission.
He will be followed by another inspirational speaker with a distinguished track record for innovating learning and teaching, Vicky Colbert, who developed Escuela Nueva (New School) in Colombia. What started as a local innovation evolved into a powerful national policy adopted by Colombia’s Ministry of Education and was soon emulated across Latin America where Vicky Colber was a regional adviser for UNICEF. It has been an inspiration for developing countries looking to develop sustainable education systems and continues being adapted and innovated.
In addition to participants in the debate on the stage at Central Hall, Westminster, and those in the global TelePresence units, there will also be EFF fellows and guests in the audience, including Lord Jim Knight, David Martin, Tim Unwin, Mario Franco and a group of students from Twickenham Academy.
And the full debate about "deep learning and new pedagogies" so skilfully developed by Michael Fullan and the OECD's Kristen Weatherby at EFF8 will be continued on stage at the Education World Forum 2014 itself, demonstrating that the Education Fast Forward debates have far, far more than mere online talking shops.