The build-up to the 2015 end date for reaching the MDGs and the Education for all goals in education has been characterised by the realisation that many countries will not be able to achieve the aspirations set out by governments and development agencies 12 years ago.
This is not surprising, given that the goals assumed the same finishing line for all countries, regardless of their starting point.
Planning for the post 2015 development scenario has already begun and is cognisant of a changed world – shaped by the development success and failures of the past decade and the expectations of the upcoming decades. Any new goals will need to be fit for a different purpose.
Critically, the new framework will be operating in a vastly more complex funding environment.
How will this impact education in countries where policy and provision have been largely driven by these development goals?
Does the role and function of education need to change? Are skills more important than knowledge acquisition? Is education a right or a commodity? Should there be country specific targets?
Added to this melting pot is the unprecedented rate of technological change and increasing digitisation of media. Yet many countries still do not have the infrastructure – both in terms of skills and resources – to harness the benefits of this technology. Education models based on digital skills and access risk exacerbating the digital divide.
It is argued too that education must also incorporate behaviour change if the new challenges of climate change and resource depletion are to be overcome.
Fresh thinking around education and development points to a multi-sector approach to replace its current stand-alone status.
On the final day of the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers, these issues will be discussed under the theme: ‘Future Education Cooperation in the Commonwealth’, specifically addressing the Commonwealth dimension in role of education in the post 2015 development framework.