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Peter Colenso GSF Annual Meeting

Global Schools Forum Annual Meeting Day 1: Nurturing Community

The Global Schools Forum’s (GSF) Annual Meeting themed on Nurturing Collective Action took place over three days in Johannesburg, South Africa. GSF welcomed our global community of members, funders, investors, policy makers and actors to discuss ideas and solutions for working together collaboratively to improve education outcomes for children around the world.

In her opening remarks, GSF CEO Aashti Zaidi Hai said: “It’s been amazing to welcome the GSF community to our Annual Meeting in Johannesburg and bring people together. GSF are hoping for an enriching three days where we can learn from one another and find new opportunities to partner and collaborate.”

Framing the conversation on Nurturing Community on our first day, Harry Anthony Patrinos of The World Bank, Corina Gardner of IDP Foundation Inc, Muriel Mafico of UNICEF South Africa and Zia Akhter Abbas of The Citizens Foundation discussed the role of The Non-State in a Post-Covid World in our first session.

Data shared with attendees during this session demonstrated the stark impact school closures had on learning loss during the pandemic, and the long-term impact forecast on earning loss. The only country globally not to experience learning loss from school closures was Sweden but Nepal, India and Cambodia all experienced significant learning loss resulting from extended school closures during the pandemic.

Muriel Mafico UNICEF

Key findings also highlighted the impact of accelerated and remedial education to provide opportunities for rapid catch up and the need to mitigate against continued crises by developing 'shock absorbers' for our education systems. It has been incredibly insightful to hear from colleagues discussing how we can act together as a community to solve these challenges, and to continue to explore options for blended learning including online learning models.

Sharing thoughts on the theme of Nurturing Collective Action, George Srour of Building Tomorrow said: 

The challenging thoughts to get the wheels turning come from these off-the-cuff conversations you have with people who you know are doing incredible work all over the world. This is such a great collection of people to interact with and it feels like you’re home. The people here are doing the same kind of work in a different context and different way, and yet there's so much to learn.

George Srour, Building Tomorrow

Placing the community at the centre of our work is the central theme in our new strategy, and so our breakout sessions on Building Regional Networks supported our members to connect with peers in similar geographical locations. Pablo Jaramillo of Alianza Educativa facilitated the Latin America group, Deborah Kimathi of Dignitas hosted South and East Africa, Erin Northey of Educaid Sierra Leone facilitated West and Central Africa, and Neha Vaidya of iTeach Schools hosted South and South-East Asia.

In the South and South-East Asia group, Code4kids shared inspiring insights about using SaaS to focus on scalable coding, robotics, IT solutions, B2B, and expanding to India and Indonesia. EkTara shared how they work with children in communities in Kolkata providing solutions for health, education, parental engagement, and to see children through college, as well as working with the government to convert four municipal schools into model schools.

The group went on to stress the importance of sharing experiences of working with the government and the most effective partnerships models, assessing models for financial sustainability for organisations, coming together to improve cost efficiency, and how to best use the investment from governments and private sector to produce higher learning outcomes.

Talking about networking and the opportunities presented in this forum, John Gilmour of LEAP Science and Maths Schools and Global Teacher Institute shared his thoughts, telling us: “This is my first Global Schools Forum Meeting and I’m blown away. The opportunity to meet and engage with fellow pioneers in multiple spaces is refreshing, inspiring, stretching and energizing.”

The day ended with Personal Well-Being breakouts to learn from our peers and those who understand the challenges of leadership. Discussing the difficulties presented by contrasting working environments such as working in conflict zones and working from home, senior leaders from our community contributed ideas learnt from their organisations on prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries, sustainability and organisational culture, as well as the challenges of leading through change and building resilience within yourself and your teams.

GSF, our Board and attendees looked forward to the school visits in the local community organised for the following day.

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