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1st Meeting of the Education Working Group

An important opportunity to exchange views on key measures to ensure quality education for all, in a global context affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

February 3rd, 2021

1st Meeting of the Education Working Group

The first Education Working Group meeting under the Italian G20 Presidency was hosted virtually at Palazzo Chigi in Rome, on January 28th and 29th 2021. The two-day meeting was attended by delegates from all G20 partners, as well as representatives from guest countries.

The session was chaired by Min. Gianluca Grandi, Diplomatic Adviser of the Italian Minister of Education and coordinator of the group. The meeting gave the chance to G20 members to exchange views on key measures to ensure quality education for all, in a global context deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The discussion focused on those policies able to mitigate the increased risk of educational poverty caused by the ongoing crisis, as well as the need to rethink education systems, in the light of the new blended teaching methods, which integrate in-person and distance learning.

Representatives of international organizations also participated in the meeting, providing inputs and technical insight. In particular, UNESCO contributed to the discussion by presenting data and projections on the impact of Covid-19 on educational inequalities and educational poverty and on the adoption of new blended teaching methodologies. UNICEF’s intervention aimed at drawing a global picture of the two issues at hand and providing recommendations to mitigate their effects. Finally, the OECD focused on the need for academic continuity and on the opportunity to make the best use of new technologies.

The second day of the meeting was dedicated to the exchange of good practices on policies adopted to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on education systems, and enabled a first exchange on the principles that will guide the drafting of the declaration to be adopted by the G20 Education Ministers at the Ministerial Meeting in Catania, on June 22nd and 23rd 2021. The third focus area, to be addressed at the forthcoming meetings of the Education Working Group, namely the issue of facilitating the transitions from education to the labour market, was also briefly presented to the participants. This issue will be addressed in close coordination with the colleagues from the Employment Working Group and will be the object of a specific joint statement by the G20 Ministers of Education and Labour.

Overall, the meeting highlighted how the pandemic has exacerbated weaknesses in education systems and inequalities among pupils. In facing these challenges, the G20 countries reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate and develop effective measures to remove those factors fostering inequality in access to quality education, and to fight all kind of discrimination within national education systems. Particular attention was given to the digital divide and to the issue of gender-based discrimination.

G20 members also highlighted the importance of adopting innovative education models. These models should guarantee academic continuity in the event of future crises and provide students with the necessary skills to actively participate in the transitions taking place in our society and the global economy, such as the green and digital transitions.