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Why education and global competence will be key for the success of the SDGs

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. SDG4 focuses on quality education for all and calls for sweeping action to expand learning opportunities and improve the quality of education so that all children and adults acquire the knowledge and skills to thrive. The keynote will provide an update on where we are, ten years before the target year 2030. But education has a much larger role to play. Success in almost all SDGs depends on the multiplier effect of education: ambitions in SDG1 to eradicate poverty requires universal primary and secondary educational attainment; good health and well-being (SDG3) is only feasible when especially more girls and women complete education. But educational attainment alone will not be enough. We have to think harder about the kind of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that we need to develop in order to prepare children and adults for the world of tomorrow. Global challenges of climate change and sustainable growth, but also digitalization, migration, innovation and peace will require global competence. The keynote will expand on the concept of global competence and explain why and how it has been integrated in the PISA 2018 assessment.


Dirk Van Damme (PhD, Ghent University) is Senior Counsellor in the Directorate for Education and Skills at the OECD in Paris, after having served as Head of the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, and as Head of the OECD work on skills. Before joining the OECD in 2008, he held academic positions in educational research and comparative education at various universities, was counsellor for several Flemish education ministers (1992-2000), General Director of the Flemish Rectors’ Conference VLIR (2000-2003), and chief of staff of minister Frank Vandenbroucke (2004- 2008). His current interests are the science of learning, comparative analyses of educational systems, lifelong learning and global developments in education.

Dirk Van Damme

Intro & outro

Elina Lehtomäki

Professor Elina Lehtomäki is Professor of Global Education at the University of Oulu, Finland, and leads the research team Education, diversity, globalisation and ethics. The team is responsible for twointernational degree programmes: Education and Globalisation, andIntercultural Teacher Education. Elina Lehtomäki’s research interests include global education and learning, social meaning of education, equity and inclusion in and through education, cross-cultural collaboration, and internationalization in higher education. She has a long-term experience as an adviser in educational development and collaboration with African scholars and universities. She chairs the University of Oulu multidisciplinary working group on sustainable development. She is a board member of the international Academic Network of Global Education and Learning that collaborates closely with the Global Education Network Europe, and of the Finnish University Partnership for International Development, and participates in the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture working group on internationalization of higher education.

Global Education webinar

Practical information

May 7th 2020 11h-12h30 (CEST)
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English (with simultaneous translation in French)


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