In the process of Transforming education, the author wonders in this UNESCO article; How can technology and youth drive change? Knowing that Technology can enhance the learning experience, address educational challenges, and prepare learners for future jobs.
Transforming education: How can technology and youth drive change?
As the world reaches a critical point between the Transforming Education Summit and the SDG Summit scheduled to take place in September 2023, there is an urgent need for actions to break down the barriers that keep 244 million young people out of school. This blog announces a new partnership with Restless Development and the GEM Report. Together we aim to mobilize youth globally to inform the development of the 2023 Youth Report on technology and education, exploring how technology can address various education challenges, including issues of access, equity and inclusion, quality and system management.
Education online – a case in point
After the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the education sector is still in recovery. The pandemic had a profound impact youth, with the most vulnerable learners being hit the hardest. The global shift to distance and online learning resulted in many less privileged communities losing their means of connection to education, and some of the gains made towards the goals of the Education 2030 agenda were lost. As a result, the 2023 GEM Report on technology and education due out July 26 in Montevideo comes at a critical moment to reflect on how to accelerate progress towards SDG 4.
Technology can enhance the learning experience, address educational challenges, and prepare learners for the jobs of the future. STEM education, in particular, is essential for promoting innovation and economic growth and equipping learners with the skills they need to succeed in the current technology-driven world. But it also raises concerns over privacy, data protection and sustainability.
The 2023 GEM Report will investigate the ongoing debates around technology and education. It will explore how technology addresses issues of access, equity and inclusion, quality and system management. It will also acknowledge that some of the proposed solutions may have negative consequences.
In this fast-changing world, technology is crucial in providing learners with access to a wide range of resources and information. With technology, learners can access educational materials from anywhere at any time, collaborate with peers, and engage in interactive learning activities that promote critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed concerns about the inequality in technology accessibility. In many parts of the world, young learners are not prepared for their future due to a lack of digital access in formal teaching and outdated curricula that don’t accommodate technology. To create a more inclusive, creative, and future-ready approach to learning, education systems must be transformed, which requires scaling up access to digital skills and decent infrastructure to ensure that no one is left behind.
A new partnership with Restless Development to mobilize youth globally will inform the 2023 Youth Report
We are pleased to announce the new partnership between Restless Developmentand the GEM Report to mobilize youth globally to reflect upon, question and debate the recommendations of the 2023 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report and inform the development of its youth edition. Building on the consultation findings with youth in the run up to the RewirED Forum in 2021 on technology, Restless Development will lead a series of youth-led regional consultations aiming to better understand the challenges and opportunities young people from around the world face when using technology in education and to hear their recommendations for policymakers.
The global consultation process will be officially launched on 26 April 2023 during a side-event at the ECOSOC Youth Forum in New York where youth activists and representatives will gather to discuss the themes that should be covered in the Youth Report. This is the first time that youth is involved in such early stages of the development of the report. Their views on the framing of recommendations for their region will be detailed and produced in the youth version of the 2023 GEM Report next to views from other regions and relating to the recommendations contained in the global GEM Report.
This first global consultation event will trigger a series of activities:
A global survey on the key issues that the Youth Report should address: Youth and student organizations will be able to choose from a series of themes linked to the recommendations of the global report: equity and inclusion, appropriateness, sustainability, and privacy among others.
A call for expressions of interest for youth organizations from around the world to organize regional and thematic consultations to inform the development of the Youth Report and take part in associated advocacy activities.
An online consultation to collect thoughts from youth from around the world on the themes that the report should cover and recommend projects and good practices on education technology to inform the report.
We invite you to consult this page to see all the ways in which you can be involved!
While there is no globally agreed definition of artificial intelligence, scientists largely share the view that technically speaking there are two broad categories of AI technologies: ‘artificial narrow intelligence’ (ANI) and ‘artificial general intelligence’ (AGI).
General-purpose artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, such as ChatGPT, are quickly transforming the way AI systems are built and deployed. While these technologies are expected to bring huge benefits in the coming years, spurring innovation in many sectors, their disruptive nature raises policy questions around privacy and intellectual property rights, liability and accountability, and concerns about their potential to spread disinformation and misinformation. EU lawmakers need to strike a delicate balance between fostering the deployment of these technologies while making sure adequate safeguards are in place.
Notion of general-purpose AI (foundation models)
While there is no globally agreed definition of artificial intelligence, scientists largely share the view that technically speaking there are two broad categories of AI technologies: ‘artificial narrow intelligence’ (ANI) and ‘artificial general intelligence’ (AGI). ANI technologies, such as image and speech recognition systems, also called weak AI, are trained on well-labelled datasets to perform specific tasks and operate within a predefined environment. By contrast, AGI technologies, also referred to as strong AI, are machines designed to perform a wide range of intelligent tasks, think abstractly and adapt to new situations. While only a few years ago AGI development seemed moderate, quick-paced technological breakthroughs, including the use of large language model (LLM) techniques have since radically changed the potential of these technologies. A new wave of AGI technologies with generative capabilities – referred to as ‘general purpose AI’ or ‘foundation models‘ – are being trained on a broad set of unlabelled data that can be used for different tasks with minimal fine-tuning. These underlying models are made accessible to downstream developers through application programming interface (API) and open-source access, and are used today as infrastructure by many companies to provide end users with downstream services.
Applications: Chat GPT and other general-purpose AI tools
In 2020, research laboratory OpenAI – which has since entered into a commercial partnership with Microsoft – released GPT-3, a language model trained on large internet datasets that is able to perform a wide range of natural language processing tasks (including language translation, summarisation and question answering). In 2021, OpenAI released DALL-E, a deep-learning model that can generate digital images from natural language descriptions. In December 2022, it launched its chatbot ChatGPT, based on GPT-3 and trained on machine learning models using internet data to generate any type of text. Launched in March 2023, GPT-4, the newest general-purpose AI tool, is expected to have even more applications in areas such as creative writing, art generation and computer coding.
General-purpose AI tools are now reaching the general public. In March 2023, Microsoft launched a new AI‑powered Bing search engine and Edge browser incorporating a chat function that brings more context to search results. It also released a GPT-4 platform allowing businesses to build their own applications (for instance for summarising long-form content and helping write software). Google and its subsidiary DeepMind are also developing general-purpose AI tools; examples include the conversational AI service, Bard. Google unveiled a range of generative AI tools in March 2023, giving businesses and governments the ability to generate text, images, code, videos, audio, and to build their own applications. Developers are using these ‘foundation models‘ to roll out and offer a flurry of new AI services to end users.
General-purpose AI tools have the potential to transform many areas, for example by creating new search engine architectures or personalised therapy bots, or assisting developers in their programming tasks. According to a Gartner study, investments in generative AI solutions are now worth over US$1.7 billion. The study predicts that in the coming years generative AI will have a strong impact on the health, manufacturing, automotive, aerospace and defence sectors, among others. Generative AI can be used in medical education and potentially in clinical decision-making or in the design of new drugs and materials. It could even become a key source of information in developing countries to address shortages of expertise.
Concerns and calls for regulation
The key characteristics identified in general-purpose AI models – their large size, opacity and potential to develop unexpected capabilities beyond those intended by their producers – raise a host of questions. Studies have documented that large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT, present ethical and social risks. They can discriminate unfairly and perpetuate stereotypes and social biases, use toxic language (for instance inciting hate or violence), present a risk for personal and sensitive information, provide false or misleading information, increase the efficacy of disinformation campaigns, and cause a range of human-computer interaction harms (such as leading users to overestimate the capabilities of AI and use it in unsafe ways). Despite engineers’ attempts to mitigate those risks, LLMs, such as GPT-4, still pose challenges to users’ safety and fundamental rights (for instance by producing convincing text that is subtly false, or showing increased adeptness at providing illicit advice), and can generate harmful and criminal content.
Since general-purpose AI models are trained by scraping, analysing and processing publicly available data from the internet, privacy experts stress that privacy issues arise around plagiarism, transparency, consent and lawful grounds for data processing. These models represent a challenge for education systems and for common-pool resources such as public repositories. Furthermore, the emergence of LLMs raises many questions, including as regards intellectual property rights infringement and distribution of copyrighted materials without permission. Some experts warn that AI-generated creativity could significantly disrupt the creative industries (in areas such as graphic design or music composition for instance). They are calling for incentives to bolster innovation and the commercialisation of AI-generated creativity on the one hand, and for measures to protect the value of human creativity on the other. The question of what liability regime should be used when general-purpose AI systems cause damage has also been raised. These models are also expected to have a significant impact on the labour market, including in terms of work tasks.
Against this backdrop, experts argue that there is a strong need to govern the diffusion of general-purpose AI tools, given their impact on society and the economy. They are also calling for oversight and monitoring of LLMs through evaluation and testing mechanisms, stressing the danger of allowing these tools to stay in the hands of just a few companies and governments, and highlighting the need to assess the complex dependencies between companies developing and companies deploying general-purpose AI tools. AI experts are also calling for a 6-month pause, at least, in the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT‑4.
General-purpose AI (foundation models) in the proposed EU AI act
EU lawmakers are currently engaged in protracted negotiations to define an EU regulatory framework for AI that would subject ‘high-risk’ AI systems to a set of requirements and obligations in the EU. The exact scope of a proposed artificial intelligence act (AI act) is a bone of contention. While the European Commission’s original proposal did not contain any specific provisions on general-purpose AI technologies, the Council has proposed that they should be considered. Scientists have meanwhile warned that any approach classifying AI systems as high-risk or not depending on their intended purpose would create a loophole for general purpose systems, since the future AI act would regulate the specific uses of an AI application but not its underlying foundation models.
In this context, a number of stakeholders, such as the Future of Life Institute, have called for general-purpose AI to be included in the scope of the AI act. Some academics favouring this approach have suggested modifying the proposal accordingly. Helberger and Diakopoulos propose to consider creating a separate risk category for general-purpose AI systems. These would be subject to legal obligations and requirements that fit their characteristics, and to a systemic risk monitoring system similar to the one under the Digital Services Act (DSA). Hacker, Engel and Mauer argue that the AI act should focus on specific high-risk applications of general-purpose AI and include obligations regarding transparency, risk management and non-discrimination; the DSA’s content moderation rules (for instance notice and action mechanisms, and trusted flaggers) should be expanded to cover such general-purpose AI. Küspert, Moës and Dunlop call for the general-purpose AI regulation to be made future-proof, inter alia, by addressing the complexity of the value chain, taking into account open-source strategies and adapting compliance and policy enforcement to different business models. For Engler and Renda, the act should discourage API access for general-purpose AI use in high-risk AI systems, introduce soft commitments for general-purpose AI system providers (such as a voluntary code of conduct) and clarify players’ responsibilities along value chains.
THE looked at the MENA higher education establishments by measuring their knowledge transfer, impact and international outlook, thus in Rankings for 2022 that are given by Country breakdown. It would be interesting to compare the same Rankings in 2021.
Arab University Rankings 2022: Country breakdown
The different countries of the Arab region have different strengths in higher education. Here we explore their scores against THE’s five pillars: teaching, research, citations, society (which measures knowledge transfer and impact) and international outlook
Algeria’s overall score is 24.3, based on 21 universities ranked, making it the lowest ranking region in the table. The average score for society is higher than for three other countries, however, at 26.9.
Egypt features in the top half of the table, with an overall score of 59.6 based on 34 universities. While the country scores especially high for citations (71.3), it falls down on international outlook (45.3).
While Iraq’s average overall score is among the lowest in the region, based on 23 universities ranked, the country does punch above its weight in the society pillar, with an average score of 59.0.
An all-rounder, Jordan has average scores in the 40s for all the pillars. And when it comes to working internationally, it scores 53.8, based on 14 universities ranked.
Lebanon is the third-highest scoring country in the region, or the second-highest when excluding countries with fewer than five universities ranked. Its strengths are teaching (82.9) and research (79.0), but its weakness is citations (39.4).
The average overall score for Morocco is 37.4, based on 10 universities ranked. The country’s strongest pillar is society, where it has an average score of 54.2.
With the seventh-highest score in the region (or fourth when discounting countries with fewer than five universities ranked), Saudi Arabia scores well all-round. Its strongest areas are international outlook (75.2) and citations (74.7).
With an overall score of 44.4, based on 10 universities, Tunisia sits around the middle of the table. The pillar on which it performs best is teaching (53.2), followed by research (50.3); it is weakest on citations (23.2).
United Arab Emirates
The UAE has the highest average overall score in the region, when counting countries with five or more universities ranked, at 71.2. It scores especially well on the international outlook pillar (82.4). Its lowest scoring pillar is society at 51.0.
Green water – the rainwater available to plants in the soil – is indispensable for life on and below the land. But in a new study, we found that widespread pressure on this resource has crossed a critical limit.
The planetary boundaries framework – a concept that scientists first discussed in 2009 – identified nine processes that have remained remarkably steady in the Earth system over the last 11,700 years. These include a relatively stable global climate and an intact biosphere that have allowed civilisations based on agriculture to thrive. Researchers proposed that each of these processes has a boundary that, once crossed, puts the Earth system, or substantial components of it, at risk of upset.
So far, it has been suggested that human use of freshwater is still within safe limits globally. But earlier assessments only considered the extraction of what is called blue water – that which flows in rivers and resides in underground aquifers. Even then, regional boundaries are likely to have been crossed in many river basins due to a sixfold increase in the extraction of blue water over the past century. Besides irrigating crops to sate growing demand from people and livestock, population growth and higher standards of living have raised global domestic and industrial water consumption, disrupting aquatic ecosystems and decimating the life within them.
By including green water in our assessment, we found that freshwater’s ability to sustain a stable Earth system is even more threatened than first reported.
Research shows that clearing forests reduces the flow of moisture to the atmosphere, dampening how efficiently the Earth system can circulate water and ultimately putting ecosystems like the Amazon at risk of collapse. Global heating and changes to how the land is used, especially deforestation, are among the biggest factors responsible for humanity’s transgression of this planetary boundary. Their combined influence indicates that the planetary boundaries interact and need to be treated as one networked system.
We found that since the industrial revolution, and especially since the 1950s, larger parts of the world are subject to significantly drier or wetter soil. This shift towards extreme conditions is an alarming development due to the indispensable role of water in maintaining resilient societies and ecosystems
Too much soil water is no good either. Water-saturated soils make floods more likely and suffocate plant growth. Abnormally large quantities of water evaporating from wet soils can delay the onset of monsoons in places like India, where the dry season has extended and disrupted farming. High humidity combined with high temperatures can also cause deadly heatwaves, as the human body quickly overheats when sweating becomes impossible in very moist air. Several regions, like South Asia, the coastal Middle East and the Gulf of California and Mexico, are experiencing this lethal combination much earlier than expected.
What can be done?
Growing scientific evidence suggests that the planet is both drier and wetter than at any point within the last 11,700 years. This threatens the ecological and climatic conditions that support life.
Our analysis shows that the sixth planetary boundary has been crossed. But ambitious efforts to slow climate change and halt deforestation could still prevent dangerous changes to the cycling of Earth’s green water. Along with other measures, switching farming practices to sustainable alternatives would prevent more soil being degraded and losing its moisture. Explicitly governing green water and its protection in policy and legal frameworks may also be necessary.
Published by University World News and written by Nic Mitchell, we are informed how international organisations are gearing themselves to confront this literally ongoing climate deregulation through higher education. It’s about how a New postgraduate degree to put Paris Agreement into action for future leaders is aimed through this ultimate degree.
New postgraduate degree to put Paris Agreement into action
Plans are advancing at speed to create a new postgraduate degree specialising on the Paris Agreement on climate change in a bid to develop future leaders able to tackle the challenges of sustainability and advance transformative climate action, the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) in Barcelona, Spain, heard.
World Higher Education Conference 2022.
This conference is convened by UNESCO and University World News is the exclusive media partner.
Professor Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi, director of the United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) in Tokyo, Japan, outlined the aims when opening the session at WHEC2022 on how higher education can accelerate climate action under the Paris Agreement.
She described the UNU-IAS, which she assumed leadership of in 2019, as a bridge between UN agencies and higher education, and told delegates to the Barcelona conference that work was progressing well on launching a new postgraduate degree on the Paris Agreement and climate sustainability, which was first mooted at COP26 (the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Glasgow.
First of its kind
“The degree will be the first of its kind in the world and the goal is to provide the skills needed across the world to teach action… to implement the Paris Agreement through higher education.”
Professor Yamaguchi said: “Our UNU institute in Tokyo is dedicated to realising a sustainable future for the people and our planet through policy-orientated research, education and capacity development focusing on sustainability, including looking at climate change and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
The new postgraduate degree specialisation on the Paris Agreement on climate change is being developed in close collaboration with governments, leading universities and development partners and builds on an existing MSc in Sustainability and a PhD in Sustainability Science offered by UNU-IAS.
Together these two programmes currently have 38 students from 20 developing countries, with scholarships provided to over half of the students.
Develop future climate action leaders
“We are aiming to develop future leaders who will be at the forefront of the climate and sustainable development agenda,” said Yamaguchi, who announced that applications for the new Paris Agreement postgraduate degree will be invited at the end of 2022 and the programme will start in September 2023.
COP26 in Glasgow called on the world to keep the global increase in temperatures to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial level, but to implement the measures requires a huge amount of knowledge and government cannot do everything, she said.
“You need large stakeholder coalitions to tackle issues such as phasing out coal and all parties acknowledge the importance of education about environment,” said Yamaguchi.
Transparency a key issue
Transparency, monitoring and accountability are going to be key issues for governments and businesses in meeting the Paris Agreement goals and higher education will play a key role, so people understand climate science.
“We need to develop dynamic training for experts, and coordination across sectors and institutions to collect and share data… and lack of coordination is a problem in many countries,” Yamaguchi told the conference.
Dr Won Jung Byun, programme specialist at UNESCO’s Section of Education for Sustainable Development, welcomed the new qualification from the United Nations University and told the conference that only half of national curricula worldwide mention climate change and fewer than 20% of teachers are able to explain action needed to tackle climate change.
Education systems around the world need to do much more to provide learners with the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to overcome the climate crisis and sustainability challenges, she said.
Can’t just be left to higher education
But it can’t just be left to higher education, speakers at the session at the UNESCO conference stressed.
Laurent Cortese, deputy head of the Education-Vocational Training-Employment and Higher Education Division of the French Agency for Development, which mainly works in education and development in countries in Africa, said: “If we leave it to higher education, it is too late. We need a holistic approach and to work on environmental and climate issues with the rest of the education system.”
Teacher training is part of higher education in many countries, he pointed out, adding: “We need to ensure coordination between those in charge of higher education and education as a whole and show the importance of issues like climate change and biodiversity.”
Akio Takemoto, programme head at UNU-IAS in Tokyo, agreed it was important to start explaining the impact of climate change at the primary and school level and there was a need for innovative ways to provide a continuous and high-capacity educational system.
Need to look at all levels
“While there was a lot of talk about Masters degrees and PhDs, we also need highly skilled technical people and it is important we train engineers to work with these technicians. We have to look at all levels of higher education.”
Dr Kanako Morita, senior researcher at the Center for Biodiversity and Climate Change with the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan, told the session: “Youth education is important, but so are other actors, including the companies and financial institutions and local government, who are keen to learn more about climate change. We need to consider education at all levels and social scientists have a big role to play.”
Produce ‘maestros’ to get message across
Cortese said the education system needed to produce “maestros” able to get the message across and with the capacity to handle the difficult questions on a scientific basis.
“We can help identify students who can participate in such programmes in the countries where we intervene. Too often, we all work among ourselves with people who we agree with, but that’s not always the most productive.
“We need to set up partnerships with people who don’t necessarily think the same way we do, [and] that would force students to examine their arguments and to review them.
“It is important to develop soft skills and to meet the needs of different people and not just work with university partnerships with the same outlook.
“We need to establish partnerships with companies, so people go outside their comfort zone and are prepared when they meet people who might not think as they do and who are able to see things in a different way.”
Nic Mitchell is a UK-based freelance journalist and PR consultant specialising in European and international higher education. He blogs at www.delacourcommunications.com.
Earth has been used as a building material for at least the last 12,000 years. Ethnographic research into earth being used as an element of Aboriginal architecture in Australia suggests its use probably goes back much further.
Traditional construction methods were no match for the earthquake that rocked Morocco on Friday night, an engineering expert says, and the area will continue to see such devastation unless updated building techniques are adopted.
This site uses functional cookies and external scripts to improve your experience.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.