On one level there is something strange about the diverse group of countries that form the Commonwealth and at least for me a bit uncomfortable when you think of the imperial past.
The Commonwealth is a family of 53 different countries among them 12 on the UN list of least developed countries in the world.
Yet when you meet the learners, teachers, university vice chancellors, Ministers and agencies from all of these countries you can see at once what we have in common and while we all start in different places the aims and ambitions of the Commonwealth for learners you can see at once how our simple common bond can help us work together.
The agenda is a simple yet complex one.
The millennium goals
· Advocating for 2015 to be the year that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.
· Affirming the importance of eliminating gender disparities in education by 2015
· Utilising the technology, facilities and efficiencies afforded by open and distance learning to overcome barriers and combating the digital divide in education.
· Improving quality in education through signalling the importance of the role played by teachers, addressing their status, retention and mobility whilst at the same time advancing the importance of the management, training and development of this critical resource in education.
· Supporting the assurance of education in difficult circumstances through addressing the challenges of education delivery during situations of crisis, conflict, post-conflict and natural disasters and providing guidelines to improve preparedness for emergencies.
· Mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on education systems by way of establishing the role and importance of education as a “social vaccine” against HIV/AIDS through professorial chairs for research and advocacy and dissemination of good practices in countries which address head-long the challenge of the pandemic in their populations
Some of the stories from conference are truly humbling –
Village Children in Bangladesh organizing locally to persuade a landowner to give them land to build a school and then selling their blood to a private hospital to raise the funds to build the school – so for first time the villagers have access to a primary school.
Growing evidence from countries stricken by famine that learners arriving in primary school have already been damaged developmentally through malnutrition.
Made me reflect on newspaper headline as I left that 1 in 9 learners in Glasgow come from family with addiction issues.
While we worry about changes in our own internal systems - we need to be aware of the challenges that educators face around the world. How can we leverage curriculum investment in Scotland to support the rest of the world ?