Former education ministers gather to tackle global education problems

The Atlantis Group meeting is set to involve 16 politicians from five continents

Martin George

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A group of former education ministers and world leaders will meet in London this weekend in a bid to produce “frank and bold ideas” to tackle problems in education systems around the globe.

The 16 politicians from five continents are members of the Atlantis Group, launched at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March 2017.

They aim to offer advice on issues such as global teacher recruitment, rising numbers of children in the developing world who are out of school, and the responses to the rise of automation.

Those due to take part include former Greek president George Papandreou, and former education ministers Elias Bou Saab from Lebanon, Steve Maharey from New Zealand, Silas Lwakabamba from Rwanda, and Luis Enrique Garcia from Colombia.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, which provides the secretariat for the Atlantis Group, said: “[Its] members have long and direct experience of what works and what doesn’t. They have the battle-scars from trying to reform their education systems.

“Most importantly, now they are free from the shackles of office, they can be candid about what needs to be done without any political agenda. Their recommendations on the various leadership themes will be vital for years to come”.

'System rethink'

The group’s recommendations for education systems in the developed and developing world will be passed on to governments and education authorities.

Advisers and observers to the group include former UK education minister Lord Adonis, and Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at the OECD.

Mr Schleicher said: “17 years ago, the UN’s Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education was missed, and unless we dramatically change course we will be 50 years late meeting the Sustainable Development Goal commitment of a good education for every child.

“Many of those children who are in school are learning very little. Around 175 million young people in poor countries – equivalent to one-quarter of the youth population – cannot read a sentence.

“More funding is desperately required – but just as important is a ‘system rethink’ to ensure that every leader – from government ministers to classroom teachers – can learn from the successes and failures of their predecessors.

“We can’t afford to waste more time as failure will be catastrophic for an entire generation on whom the hopes of the world depend.”

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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