By Andreas Schleicher
Director, OECD Directorate for Education and Skills
– Just like people, our educational institutions and education systems need to become more resilient to succeed amid unforeseeable disruptions.
– Resilience in education policy helps build capacity to navigate old and new contexts, providing the necessary foundations to educate societies for their future, not their past.
– The OECD’s Education Policy Outlook 2021 provides policy makers with a framework to build stronger education systems.
If there is one thing the COVID pandemic has taught us, it is that the future will always surprise us, and that it requires resilience to cope in a world that is in constant disequilibrium.
Education is key to strengthen cognitive, social and emotional resilience among learners, helping them understand that living in the world means trying, failing, adapting, learning and evolving. But our educational institutions and education systems, too, need to become more resilient to succeed amid unforeseeable disruptions.
Resilience can help us navigate change
Resilience provides individuals, institutions and communities with the flexibility, intelligence and responsiveness they need to thrive in social and economic change.
That requires public policy to become far more imaginative. It is not possible to prepare educators, educational institutions and education systems for a single future. Policy ecosystems need to become better at imagining multiple futures for education, and anticipate the consequences of these different futures for the goals and functions of education, for the organisation and structures, and for the education workforce, and ultimately, think harder about the future they want for education.
Resilience builds capacity to reconfigure the spaces, the people, the time and the technologies to educate learners for their future, not our past
Resilience builds capacity to navigate between modernising and disruption, to reconcile new goals with old structures, to foster innovation while recognising the inherently conservative nature of the education systems, to leverage potential with existing capacity, and to reconfigure the spaces, the people, the time and the technologies to educate learners for their future, not our past.
A framework for responsiveness and resilience
This is all easy to say, but hard to do. To make it easier, the framework for responsiveness and resilience presented in this year’s edition of the OECD’s Education Policy Outlook makes the concept of individual, institutional and systemic resilience actionable in policy terms, bringing together evidence and expertise from over 40 education systems.
Taking a view for the short- and mid-term, the framework provides both a window on and a mirror of education policy for education systems. It looks at practices that promote responsiveness and resilience in education systems and beyond. The framework also serves as springboard to reflect on how education policy can more radically bring about profound, purposeful and positive change to education systems.
What if learners could become empowered to learn in their own time and by their rules, rather than in adults’ time and by adults’ rules?
What if governments could translate an increased awareness of teachers as valued professionals into boldly reimagined structures and processes that empower them as trusted professionals, transforming rules into guidelines and good practice, and ultimately, good practice into culture?
What if education systems could shift from a culture of compliance and standardisation to one built on innovation and rigorous and reflective evaluative thinking to support the system to set and achieve new goals?
The framework prompts policy makers to explore these questions and more. In doing so, we can strengthen the resilience of learners, education systems, and societies as a whole, so they are better equipped to deal with the unknown futures they face.
- Report | OECD Education Policy Outlook 2021: Shaping Responsive and Resilient Education in a Changing World
- OECD Education Policy Outlook
- Blog | Strengthening student resilience during COVID through behavioural insights
- Blog | Acting on lessons from COVID to bring about deeper change in education
- Blog | Balancing the urgent and the important: COVID-19 recovery for education in Brazil
Photo: Shutterstock/Mahsun YILDIZ