Article about UNESCO Futures of Education


Sobe, Noah W. (2022). The future and the past are unevenly distributed: COVID’s educational disruptions and UNESCO’s global reports on educationPaedagogica Historica, DOI: 10.1080/00309230.2022.2112244

“the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed”

Willian Gibson

“For half a century the UN’s principal agency on education, UNESCO, has sought to shape the world’s educational landscape through a once-every-generation global report (e.g. the Faure report of 1972 and the Delors report of 1996). The latest of these reports – the Sahle-Work Commission’s “Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education” – was developed and released amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This article considers the ways the pandemic entered into the production of educational futures – and pasts – in this tradition of UNESCO global reports. It argues that the uneven distribution of pasts and futures is one of the key, already- existing systems of difference that set the stage for a disruptive event like the COVID-19 pandemic.” (Sobe, 2022, p. 1)

“The core of the proposed transformation agenda is the call for building “a new social contract for education” that consists of agreed-upon core principles, a redesign of education on multiple dimensions, and a rethinking of the actions and actors that implement and manage educational institutions, programmes and processes.” (Sobe, 2022, p. 8)

As more than one of the Sahle-Work Commission members has noted, the word “together” is the most important word in the report’s title. (Some, 2022, p. 10)

NOTE: The Center for Intercultural Dialogue held focus groups as part of the information gathering stage of the Futures of Education project, preparing what we learned as a report for UNESCO, in 2021.


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