Quality education for sustainable development

This session of Aalto Sustainability Talks discusses education's role on sustainability and sustainable development through quality lenses.
Aalto Sustainability Talks - Quality education for sustainable development
Aalto Sustainability Talks logo / Elise Rehula
Aalto Sustainability Talks - Quality education for sustainable development

Recording: Quality education for sustainable development (external link)

The recording of Aalto Sustainability Talks: Quality education for sustainable development 22.10.2020

Quality education for sustainable development

Education is a basic human right and key to change. Research suggests that investments in quality education pay off in fundamental ways ranging from individual well-being to more equal and cohesive societies and economic performance. Yet, at the same time, we are currently facing a global education and learning crisis. By taking “Quality education” as one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the global community has acknowledged its crucial role as the indispensable basis for the common strive towards a sustainable future. Essentially, the target of quality education covers also acquisition of knowledge and skills to promote sustainability thus, being an enabling factor for achieving the other SDGs.  

In the core of SDG 4 is ensuring equal access to education and raising educational quality globally with special emphasis on the support for educational development in the most vulnerable and least developed areas. Quality education covers education needs for all age groups underscoring the principle of lifelong learning and highlights the quality aspect of learning through the target of increasing the supply for qualified teachers. Special attention is paid to the elimination of gender disparities in education and supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as learners with disabilities and indigenous peoples. Educational challenges currently prevalent in least developed countries are targeted with improving the opportunities for higher education especially in technical, engineering and scientific programs.   

Education is one field which is harshly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Inequalities in education have been exacerbated by the pandemic due to school closures, the digital divide and its implications for unequal access to remote learning, and lack of basic hygienic installations in schools, such as hand washing facilities. Adding to the challenges is the need for education systems to reflect the economic, environmental and social conditions of each locality instead of solely relying on existing global frameworks.  

Though the global educational challenges are plenty, so are the opportunities. This session of Aalto Sustainability Talks will discuss education from sustainability’s perspective and strive to contribute to the on-going discourse around potential solutions, different approaches, and alternative angles to the global learning crisis.  



Riina Subra, Director, Aalto Global Impact 

The Learning Crisis in Education: What does it take to achieve SDG 4?

Ritva Reinikka, Professor of Practice, Department of Economics

Abstract: Nearly all children can attend school today—a true achievement of mankind. But international tests show poor learning outcomes in many developing countries. UNESCO launched the term "learning crisis“ when its study showed that half of adults who had completed five years of school couldn’t read a single sentence. The presentation explores the learning crisis, its symptoms, diagnostics and therapeutics. Learning profiles—the relationship between years of schooling and learning—are constructed to highlight symptoms. Service Delivery Indicators are a diagnostic that can tell what teachers do, what they know, and what they have to work with. Therapeutics are derived from detailed research. It shows that the problems start in early grades, producing persistent inequalities. Few can catch up later if they don’t acquire basic skills in the early years. A key therapy is setting achievable learning goals for all students and prioritizing universal early mastery of basic skills. 

Capacity building in contemporary mobile communication technologies: Experiences from Eritrea

Edward Mutafungwa, Staff Scientist, Department of Communications and Networking

Abstract: The unprecedented uptake of mobile services in Africa in the last two-decades has provided substantial impacts (both direct and indirect) on the local economies. Eritrea is one of the countries in the continent that could be considered a relatively late adaptor of mobile technologies. This transformation in the local mobile landscape is creating an urgent need for enhanced local expertise in mobile communication technologies. To that end, the local higher education institutions (HEIs) play a key role in the capacity building process. This talk shares some insights and experiences from a capacity building project with the Eritrean Institute of Technology (EIT) that resulted in the implementation training course on Advanced Wireless Technologies (AWT) at EIT. Initially, we provide an overview of the local Eritrean context, pinpointing in particular local constraints and trends that shaped our capacity building approaches. We demonstrate how the course design was fit with the local context and training needs within the Eritrean mobile ecosystem. Furthermore, we present the teaching approach and hands-on learning activities that were utilized on site at EIT. Finally, we provide some concluding discussions based on selected experiences from the field and reflect on possible alignment with SDG 4 targets.  

Arts education as a means to advance sustainable development

Anniina Suominen, Associate Professor, Department of Art

Abstract: Through this presentation, my intent is to first draw attention to the impact of the magnificent, unresolvable and globally significant development and problems as these directly and indirectly impact educational encounters, epistemology and pedagogy on all levels. Second, by sharing my continued attempts in finding meaningful, sustainable, ethical and resilient pedagogical directions, my aim is to encourage others to share their pedagogical efforts and thoughts without fearing their efforts aren’t enough. During this brief presentation, I attempt to articulate hopeful education through three thematic perspectives (pedagogy of paradoxes, sensuous curriculum, queering the education).

Ritva Reinikka Aalto People

Ritva Reinikka is a Professor of Practice at the Aalto University School of Business. She has held various positions in the World Bank for two decades, most notably those of Country Director of South Africa and the Director of Human Development for the African region. Ritva holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Oxford.

Edward Mutafungwa Aalto People

Edward Mutafungwa is a Staff Scientist at the Department of Communications and Networks (COMNET) of Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering. Edward has been involved in capacity building projects in a number of countries including: Ethiopia, Eritrea and Tanzania (his native country). Additionally, his current research is in general areas of 5G and beyond 5G technologies.  

Anniina Suominen Aalto People

Anniina Suominen is an Associate Professor of Art Pedagogy at the Department of Art. Anniina shares her time between U.S. and Finland navigating and negotiating their landscapes, socio-cultural traditions, and institutional differences. She holds a Ph.D. in Art Education from The Ohio State University.

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