Innovation and Childhood Education in China

China is becoming an increasingly important stakeholder in philanthropy in education. As a follow-up to several talks I gave on philanthropy in education I was invited to take part in Philanthropy in Childhood Education in China: Trends and Perspectives, a conference organized by the China Global Philanthropy Institute in collaboration with NORRAG (Network for international policies and cooperation in education and training) and 21st Century Education Research Institute, with sponsorship from the Lao Niu Brother & Sister Foundation.

This event targeted foundations, non-profit educational organizations, academia, business, social enterprises, media and government to discuss the theme of education equity and innovation in childhood education in China. It brought together around 170 participants, and high-level speakers presenting a combination of domestic and international experiences and case studies.

Building an International Partnership for 21st Century Education
through Philanthropy and Collaboration

I took part in a panel on the role of philanthropy in supporting innovation in education. As a former school director I spoke on the need to build an international partnership for 21st century education. Perhaps the most urgent issue in education today is preparing our children for their future rather than our past. Yet the biggest challenge isn’t changing the students — they’re already in the 21st century — but updating the attitudes of the educators, school leaders, and parents around them.

My roundtable focused on Education and innovation for the future and included the following speakers: Shengli HUANG, Director of 21st Century Education Research Institute, Kemei LI, Co-founder, Vice President and Secretary General of Beijing Deqing Foundation, Xiaopeng CHEN, Secretary General of Laoniu Brother & Sister Foundation, Jieqiong YU, President of Sichuan Women & Children Foundation, and Yurong GAO, Vice Director of China Philanthropy Research Institute, Beijing Normal University.

We, as educators, nonprofit actors, foundation officers, business leaders, and researchers, need to align what we are doing with what the changing world is demanding. We need young people who are effective problem solvers, students who know how to apply the knowledge they have to contexts with which they may not be familiar. We need to teach our children the 4 C’s that are Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. And go even further by adding a fifth C: Compassion.

More importantly, we must lead educators through such thickets as accountability, resistance to change, and the false dichotomy posed between teaching skills and teaching content.  This is a crucial discussion taking place in education today! Our challenge is to help schools and districts create concrete steps to a 21st century education system. For this, we need to build support from the community and the key education stakeholders and underscore the critical importance of supporting teachers in this work.

We also need to make sure that all education leaders are working to assure that their school or district is really preparing their students for the challenges of 21st century citizenship and the 21st century workforce.

This conference was part of the worldwide two-year series of symposia, organized and sponsored by NORRAG, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, Open Society Foundations and The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. I had the privilege of representing Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme and receive funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York and China Global Philanthropy Institute.

You can read about the other symposia below:
Philanthropy in Education: Interaction with the Public Sector, Mexico City, April 25, 2018
A New Forum to Discuss Empirical Research on Philanthropy and Education, Geneva, November 27, 2017
My Interview for NORRAG – Relationship Between American Foundations and Universities in Africa, Geneva, November 27, 2017

5 thoughts on “Innovation and Childhood Education in China

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