When the Group of Twenty (G20) countries first convened in 1999, their paramount concern was achieving international financial stability. However, as time progressed, the G20’s role evolved to encompass a broader spectrum of global issues. A pivotal shift occurred with the ascension of education as a prominent agenda. This transition took root after the inaugural meeting of the G20 Ministers of Education in Argentina in 2018. Since then, except in 2019, the Education Working Group (EdWG) has convened annually under the guidance of a rotating presidency.
The EdWG’s deliberations have cast a wide net, focusing on forward-looking issues spanning early childhood, primary, secondary, and tertiary education. Within this framework, G20 consistently emphasized education’s intrinsic role in poverty and inequality reduction, facilitation of inclusive economic growth, assurance of quality education access, and empowerment of women, youth, and marginalized groups.
Higher education, research, and innovation have garnered even greater attention in the wake of the global pandemic. Collaborative initiatives that transcend borders and share knowledge have proved significantly more effective than isolated approaches. Recognizing the value of this collaborative approach, India’s tenure as the G20 presidency (spanning December 2022 to November 2023) emerges as a pivotal juncture for the nation to share its experiences, particularly in higher education and research.
G20 India Summit 2023 EdWG Themes
This year, the G20 Education Working Group (EdWG) has held four rounds of meetings on the following themes:
Theme 1: Ensuring Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, Especially in the Context of Blended Learning
The education ministry recognizes that quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) is the foundation for learners’ education and development. They, therefore, strive to increase access to affordable, equitable, quality early learning environments that are inclusive, safe, and gender sensitive. They recognize the need to address every learner’s health, nutritional, and socio-emotional well-being and support their holistic development. In this regard, the education ministry also acknowledges the valuable role of parents, the community, and other workers in ECEC.
In their document of outcome and chair’s summary, the Education ministry mentions that they recognize foundational learning, i.e., literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills, as the critical building blocks for successful education, employment, and lifelong learning. They recognize that children and young people can only optimally realize their full potential with foundational learning. They also cite that as a part of the commitment to support the achievement of SDG4, they reaffirm the role of schools and the necessity for increasing the enrollment and retention of all learners, especially the most vulnerable.
The Ministry also reaffirms the need for immediate and collective action to ensure that all learners acquire foundational learning so that, by 2030, the percentage of children, particularly girls and children with disabilities, not able to read and understand a simple text and do simple math by grade 2 or 3 is reduced substantially.
Moreover, the Ministry emphasizes the need to support learning through innovative techniques, including using developmentally appropriate approaches and materials in local languages, where applicable, and sign languages. They also stress the need for developing mechanisms for comprehensive and continuous learning assessment within the formal learning environment so that the diverse needs of all students are addressed promptly.
They reiterate their commitment to harnessing digital technologies to promote blended approaches in teaching-learning. Aside from these, they mention that they value the central role of all teachers and education support staff in ensuring better foundational learning, including providing opportunities to all teachers for their continuous professional development, with special attention to their initial training and building their capacities to support innovative teaching-learning processes. They will work to foster environments that allow teachers to focus on their primary professional duties.
Theme 2: Making Tech-Enabled Learning More Inclusive, Qualitative, and Collaborative at Every Level
The education ministry reaffirms the transformative potential of digital technologies as an enabler for context-appropriate, inclusive, equitable, and accessible quality education and training and a tool to support face-to-face education. They recognize the need to work collectively to develop technology ecosystems and learning resources, including in local languages, wherever applicable, that are affordable and easily accessible. They also encourage the development and use of standardized frameworks appropriate for educational content, technology, and pedagogy; effective mechanisms for assessing learning outcomes; and capacity building of teachers and trainers to ensure the availability, quality, effectiveness, and safety of tech-enabled learning.
They reiterate their commitment to overcoming the digital divide for all learners by addressing barriers to accessible, equitable, inclusive, ethical, privacy-protected, and secure technological infrastructure.
The Ministry strives to provide learners with opportunities to acquire the necessary skills to benefit from digital learning while working toward their privacy, protection, and safety in digital environments. They also encourage ethical practices in using digital technologies in education, fostering open educational resources and strengthening interoperability of digital resources, wherever appropriate, to leverage the benefits of data and analytics in education while protecting privacy and security.
Theme 3: Building Capacities, Promoting Life-Long Learning in the Context of the Future of Work
The education ministry recognizes the need to transform education and training systems to prepare all learners for the emerging skill requirements for life, work, and sustainable development. They emphasize the importance of enabling lifelong learning with flexible and evolving career pathways focused on skilling, reskilling, and upskilling, especially for vulnerable and under-represented groups; transition between academic and vocational education and training and vice versa; recognition of prior learning as well as alternative credentials; accrediting skills, work experiences, and knowledge throughout life, beyond formal education.
They aim to work towards providing expanded access to high-quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) opportunities, including expanded work-based learning, digital learning environments, and promotion of green transitions, which effectively respond to the needs of the labour market and society. They also aim at supporting learners of all ages in the acquisition of digital skills, environmental literacy, financial skills, cognitive skills, citizenship skills, socio-emotional skills, entrepreneurial skills, and STEAM3 competencies to help prepare them for a technology-based future and a just and inclusive transition to an environmentally sustainable economy and society.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) fundamentally redefines teaching and learning and reshapes the demand for knowledge and skills. Therefore, they encourage coordination and systematic assessment of the evolution of AI, including generative AI, which is a challenge to educational systems and has the potential to improve them. They support an equitable and inclusive use of AI in education and skills that respects human rights. They look forward to further progress in this field by acknowledging prior G20 Presidency efforts and building on the G20 Skills Strategy developed under the Turkish Presidency (December 1, 2014- November 30, 2015) and amended during the Indonesian Presidency (December 1, 2022-Novemeber 30, 2023.)
Theme 4: Strengthening Research and Promoting Innovation Through Richer Collaboration in Education and Training
The challenges that the world is facing today require interdisciplinary research and coordinated efforts among countries. Therefore, the education ministry recognizes that a competitive, knowledge-based economy capable of sustainable and inclusive growth calls for integrating the three sides of the Knowledge Triangle: Education, Research, and Innovation. In the document, they mentioned that this collaboration could take the form of joint/dual, twinning degree programmes; mobility of students, faculty, and staff; increased access to scholarly knowledge; sharing of research, evidence, and resources among educational institutions as appropriate; and ongoing institutional collaborations in accordance with countries’ respective priorities, laws, and regulations.
EdWG also mentioned that they encourage countries to promote intersectoral collaborations within their respective countries by strengthening industry-academia-government linkages to promote multidisciplinary research and innovation. This collaboration could take the form of Joint/Dual, Twinning degree programmes; mobility of students, faculty and staff; expanding access to scholarly knowledge; sharing of research, evidence, and resources among educational institutions as appropriate and continued collaborations of institutions in accordance with countries’ respective priorities, laws and regulations.
Ministry of Education (MoE) Govt. Of India’s Focus
Besides these conclusions drawn from all four set themes, the education ministry mentioned the following outcomes and summaries:
- They recognize the importance of investment in supporting human capital development and will continue to work together and support each other in the true spirit of One Earth, One Family, One Future, for transforming our education systems to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.
- They will collaborate to build more equitable, inclusive, resilient, and adaptive quality education and skilling systems towards achieving well-being based on balance and harmony.
- Recognizing foundational literacy and numeracy skills as the primary building blocks for all future learning and training, they aim to collaborate to substantially support learners to acquire this competency by 2030, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable children.
- They will continue encouraging collaborative solutions and innovations to promote quality teaching, learning, and skilling through gender-sensitive programs.
- They will support each other in building globally relevant competencies, promoting lifelong learning by sharing lessons, experiences, and evidence, and building future-ready skill strategies.
- They will work to foster academic collaborations among our educational institutions through joint programs, student and staff mobility, and other such practices.
- They support the vision and mission of education-led growth in our countries and beyond and express our most profound commitment to working together in this direction.
The MoE also welcomed the outcome documents from the G20 Education Working Group (EdWG):
G20 Member Declarations in the 2023 Summit
Furthermore, at the G20 India Summit 2023, the member countries collectively agreed upon the following declarations:
Deliverance of Quality Education
They commit to inclusive, equitable, high-quality education and skills training for all, including those in vulnerable situations.
They recognize the importance of investment in supporting human capital development.
To this end, they:
- Recognize the importance of foundational learning (literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills) as the primary building block for education and employment.
- Reiterate commitment to harness digital technologies to overcome the digital divide for all learners.
- Extend support to educational institutions and teachers to enable them to keep pace with emerging trends and technological advances, including AI.
- Emphasize expanding access to high-quality Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
- Reaffirm commitment to promote open, equitable, and secure scientific collaboration and encourage mobility of students, scholars, researchers, and scientists across research and higher education institutions.
- Emphasize the importance of enabling lifelong learning focused on skilling, reskilling, and upskilling, especially for vulnerable groups.
Preparing for the Future of Work
They commit to addressing skill gaps, promoting decent work, and ensuring inclusive social protection policies.
Towards this aim, they:
- Recognize that well-integrated and adequately skilled workers benefit origin and destination countries and commit to ensuring well-managed, regular and skills-based migration pathways.
- Welcome efforts to map global skill gaps and the development of the G20 policy priorities in this direction. By extending Skills for Jobs Databases to all G20 member countries, they commit to effectively addressing the global skills gap for sustainable and inclusive economic development.
- Commit to developing a global occupational categorization based on skills and credentials to facilitate cross-border recognition of skills and certifications.
- Welcome the comprehensive toolkit with adaptable frameworks for designing and introducing digital upskilling and reskilling programs.
- Aim to achieve sustainably financed universal social protection coverage and consider the portability of social security benefits through bilateral and multilateral agreements.
- Support progress on implementing the UN Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions.
- Acknowledge the cultural and creative sector’s economic significance and societal value to support inclusive growth, sustainable development, and decent work.
- Ensure adequate social protection and decent working conditions for gig and platform workers.
- Increase efforts to eliminate child labour and forced labour along global value chains.