Education Policy Expert
World Education Week
About Vikas Pota
Vikas Pota is a globally respected leader and driving force for much good in the education, international development, philanthropy and technology sectors. His achievements include creating global awareness of the importance of education and specifically about the centrality of teachers and their profession.
His passion for dialogue, cooperation and creating collaborative projects that further the causes he supports mark him out from a field that is normally bound by national boundaries and often by ideology. As an example, what he has achieved through the Global Education & Skills Forum is truly unique and special, convening a vast range of people of all backgrounds and disciplines, shepherding the conversation to achieve a consensus on the inclusion of the teacher workforce in determining the strategies of education organisations. The way in which he approaches coalition building has resulted in successful partnerships, engaging organisations such as Education International – the international alliance of teacher unions – to the opposite spectrum of for-profit providers in education, bringing them onto a shared platform for dialogue, supporting and strengthening public education systems.
As a result of him driving conversations about teachers, several globally renowned organisations have added the teacher workforce to their considerations, whether they be bilateral and multilateral donor organisations, philanthropic institutions, bodies such as the United Nations or organisations further afield including private sector organisations focused on human capital development. His advocacy has resulted in more investment in capacity building programmes.
Vikas Pota – former Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, and education policy expert – joins Alberto Lidji to talk about the inaugural World Education Week taking place on 5th-9th October 2020.
Vikas is a repeat guest on The Do One Better! Podcast. He first came on the show in 2019 when he was heading the Varkey Foundation – the organisation behind the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize.
He is an education policy expert and in this episode Vikas talks about the upcoming inaugural World Education Week, taking place 5th to 9th in October, virtually. The event is organised by T4 and Vikas is driving it forward.
Vikas notes how the biggest lever of change we have in education is the teacher, so they’ve decided to have the inaugural World Education Week commence on 5th October, which is World Teacher Day.
A key driver behind all this is the need to accelerate progress in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), which focuses on education. The exciting thing is that digital platforms, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, allow for new voices of folks to share experiences and share perspectives. It enhances debate and discussion.
Vikas explains that teachers trust teachers, and schools trust schools, so when a school leader speaks from their experience as to how they’ve done XYZ, the likelihood of other teachers in similar situations listening and taking note is much greater.
This is why they’re also organising a ‘Global Showcase’ during World Education Week, where they have 100 schools from around the world that are going to demonstrate an area of expertise to others.
There are 5 areas they’re asking schools to consider: (1) the use of technology, (2) employability, entrepreneurship and the development of life skills, (3) deepening family and community engagement, (4) the science of learning and the science of teaching and (5) wellbeing.
The power of World Education Week is in its targeted approach. Vikas prompts listeners to keep in mind that events are a tool in one’s efforts to promote or take part in some sort of advocacy effort. In the case of World Education Week, it’s an important initiative to drive the conversation as to what is possible with regards to accelerating progress in SDG4, as opposed to merely having 100 events around the world on education.
Capturing of knowledge and making the conference freely available to people is important. By amplifying the teacher experience you really do change the discussion. It’s important to make sure teachers are included.
Vikas also underscores the need to increase the social status most societies grant teachers. COVID-19 has in some ways prompted parents to recognise exactly how much work teachers do every single day; something that came into sharp focus as parents had to deliver home schooling during lockdown.
To achieve SDG4 by 2030 (the target year of the UN Sustainable Goals) we need 69 million new teachers to be brought into the profession. Vikas remarks: How can you recruit so many teachers if we keep on treating teachers the way they’ve been treated thus far.
Vikas’ key takeaway: The parting thought is one that fills Vikas with hope and optimism, born out of seeing what happens in schools all around the world. There’s so much excellence in all parts of the world that by convening and bringing teachers and schools together we actually have for the first time, because of the use of digital communications platforms, the ability to influence schools in other parts of the world, and also in ours, to do a better job and to raise the standard of education, and that fills Vikas with a lot of hope.
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