by Andreas Schleicher
Director, Directorate for Education and Skills
I’ve often said that the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. How, then, do teachers become really good at their jobs? One important way is by learning from one another – across classes, across schools, and yes, even across countries. That’s why the OECD is a knowledge partner of the 2017 Qudwa Global Teachers’ Forum, which is being held in Abu Dhabi on 7 and 8 October. The Forum is bringing together more than 900 teachers from 83 countries to discuss “Teaching for Tomorrow”.
The focus of the forum couldn’t be more timely. According to reports by the World Economic Forum, one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be entirely redundant by 2020. And experts assert that nearly two-thirds of children entering primary school today will end up working in jobs that do not yet exist. The dilemma for teachers is that the kinds of things that are easiest to teach and easiest to test, are precisely the things that are also easy to digitise, automate and outsource. If we want to educate students for their future, rather than for our past, we need to better understand the future and what it implies for teaching today.
“Qudwa” is the Arabic word for “role model”. Teachers are role models for their students, and they can also be leaders in their communities. They need to learn how best to prepare children for living and working in this new, highly digitised world so that tomorrow’s communities are cohesive and productive. We know so much more about what makes for effective teaching; and we now have the tools to amplify and share this knowledge so that we can develop a global network of change leaders.
Participants at the forum will be sharing information and exchanging their views about the most effective teaching strategies, using technology in the classroom, making schools more inclusive, and engaging with parents, among many other topics. Most of the discussions will be based on data collected by the OECD: a strong foundation on which a high-quality teaching force – and thus high-quality education systems – can be built. Like all of us, teachers need inspiration to perform at their best; I’m certain they will find lots of it in Abu Dhabi this weekend.