Celebrating diversity and working together to improve inclusivity in education – the second annual Schools2030 Global Forum

Delegates from around the world will once again convene to continue the conversations begun at the Schools2030 Global Forum in Tanzania, this time focusing on improving inclusivity, equity and pluralism across schools, systems and societies.

05 May 2023
By Sarah James

The Schools2030 community are excited to host the second annual Schools2030 Global Forum on 5-7th June, this time bringing the conversations to the beautiful city of Porto, Portugal. The river city forms a symbolic backdrop – with its myriad bridges – for an event that aims to build bridges and facilitate links between key players in the education sector. Co-hosted by Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the Government of Portugal, the Municipality of Porto and the Porto Tourism Association, this year’s Schools2030 Global Forum seeks to address the question: How might we foster more inclusive schools and pluralistic learning societies?

In June 2022, Schools2030 hosted its inaugural Schools2030 Global Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, convening a space for the global education community to reimagine the future of learning together. Schools2030, the flagship education programme of AKF aims to improve holistic learning outcomes through a focus on teacher agency and strengthening school-to-system connection. Led and implemented by AKF across nine of its ten countries (and by Ashoka in Brazil) Schools2030 also brings together the financial and technical resources of key global partners: Jacobs Foundation, Lego Foundation, Oak Foundation, Porticus, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, Education Cannot Wait, USAID, Itau Social, Dubai Cares and Atlassian Foundation.

The annual Forums provide a crucial space to connect teachers and all key stakeholder groups and also serves to ensure the crisis in learning (80% of children in the poorest countries still unable to read or understand a simple story by the end of primary school) remains a key focus of policy conversations post-pandemic as we find ourselves creeping ever closer to 2030 – the target year for completing the ambitions set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.

The themes of inclusivity, equity and pluralism in education are of critical importance to the Portuguese education system. This theme was selected by Schools2030 in dialogue with Portugal’s Minister of Education Prof. Joao Costa during the United Nations’ Transforming Education Summit. These values are also at the very heart of Schools2030 and are key to the AKF as an organisation that strives for inclusivity through participatory programme design and advocates for pluralistic, diverse and tolerant societies – key issues for His Highness the Aga Khan himself, who notably stated: “Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development; it is vital to our existence.”

The Global Forum will be attended by Minister Costa who will take part in the opening panel discussion, alongside the Mayor of Porto, Mr. Rui Moreira, AKF’s General Manager, Mr. Michael Kocher, a Schools2030 educator and a member of its Global Steering Committee. Also in attendance will be Mr. Ulanbek Mambetakunov, the Minister of Science and Education from the Kyrgyz Republic, who will participate in a handover ceremony on the final day of the Forum, as the baton is passed to his country to host the conversations at the Global Forum in 2024. The final day’s panel discussion will look towards next year’s theme of climate education and aim to explore how the global development community can support teachers to address the climate crisis in their classrooms.

Minister for Education for Portugal, Prof. Joao Costa, speaking on a panel about assessment at the inaugural Global Forum alongside Pakistani headteacher, Sajida Baig, and Co-Founder of Dream a Dream Foundation, Vishal Talreja,

The Schools2030 Global Forum embodies a spirit of inclusivity in its very design. It will bring together teachers, young people, policymakers, academics, civil society, business leaders and other education stakeholders from around the world, enabling diverse perspectives, dialogue and strengthening the link between school-level action and system-level change. With Schools2030’s theory of change focused on increasing teacher agency as a means of improving student learning outcomes, the Global Forum is just one of many spaces the programme convenes to ensure teachers and schools remain at the heart of educational change.

Held over three days, the event will feature educators presenting the pedagogical innovations they have created through Schools2030’s Three-Step Model (Assess, Innovate, Showcase), and sharing how they believe their ideas will improve inclusion and access to quality education in their schools and communities. Young people from Portugal will also participate actively, conducting several workshops on topics they want to see prioritised on the education agenda. Youth from around the world will connect virtualy, to share and exchange ideas that can guide education policy for future generations.

The Global Forum creates an important opportunity to turn dialogue into action. This year, delegates have been invited to convene a series of ‘Challenge Sessions’, the topics of which have been chosen by the delegates themselves as critical questions on fostering more inclusive education systems at pre-primary, primary and secondary school level. The workshop packages, supplied by Schools2030, will ensure sessions are interactive and that we capture and share the learning, key recommendations and action points that emerge from discussion.

Whilst learning, dialogue and knowledge exchange are key outputs of the Schools2030 Global Forum, the event is also an opportunity to celebrate Porto, the wider Portuguese culture, and the values of tolerance and pluralism. As part of its celebrations, the Schools2030 Global Forum will host musicians from the Aga Khan Music Programme, who will perform their folk and world music for delegates at an opening concert on the evening of the first day. The concert will underscore the commitment of the AKDN to pluralism, as well as highlight the richness of diversity and how much we can learn from different cultures when we are open to doing so.

Schools2030 is hugely excited that the 2023 Global Forum will continue the ambitions of the 2022 event by creating opportunities for dialogue and knowledge-sharing between teachers, key system leaders and policymakers. But also – and crucially – the Global Forum aims to ensure that we are always celebrating: not only what we have achieved together so far, but the spirit of togetherness that will shape a future that is inclusive, equitable and ensures that quality education is available for all.

For more information about the Schools2030 Global Forum 2023 and links to watch the live-streamed plenary sessions, click here.

Schools2030 is a ten-year participatory learning improvement programme based in 1,000 government schools across ten countries. Schools2030 supports teachers and students to design and implement education micro-innovations. These low-cost and scaleable innovations will inform and transform education systems to improve holistic learning outcomes for the most marginalised learners worldwide. Join the movement on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.