Role of education in re-building societies

EDPC Ministerial High level Policy Forum


OECD Conference Centre, Paris

Wednesday 7 December 2022


The High Level Policy Forum seeks to connect the education agenda with its broader social and economic impact. With input from leading experts, learners, and practitioners, it will help Ministers reimagine education so that it contributes more effectively to stronger and more inclusive economies, societies and democracies.

The meeting is moderated by Ms. Hekia Parata, former Minister of Education, New Zealand


13:30 - 13:50 Opening

Introduction by the Moderator and scene-setting by the Secretariat


13:50 - 15:30 Session 1

Education: Investing in the future 

Investment in quality education and training pays off for individuals, communities and societies in many ways. It can promote stronger, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable economic and social development and it provides the foundation for vibrant democracies. Educational opportunity is also the key to social mobility and opportunity in subsequent life outcomes. At the same time, there is a significant share of young graduates who cannot find good jobs, while employers say they cannot find the people with the skills they need. And at the aggregate level, there is ample evidence that education can as much reinforce social inequality as it moderates it. Not least, PISA analysis indicates that rising investments in education have generally not been matched by improvements in the relevance, quality and inclusiveness of learning outcomes.

So how can we reimagine the content, the spaces, the time, the human resources and the relationships in education to deliver more relevant and more inclusive learning opportunities? How can we do this in ways that help learners unleash their human potential to build sustainable communities, start innovative businesses, push the digital transformation frontier, rethink individual lifestyles, and contribute to responsible policy making? And how can we enable learners to effectively address trade-offs between the present and the future, and between situational values – I will do whatever the current situation allows me to do – and sustainable values that help us align individual and collective well-being?


Keynote by Thomas Friedman, Foreign affairs Op-Ed columnist, New York Times, Author

Panel with:

  • Susan Dynarski, Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, United States
  • Celina Faerch, Student, University of Hong Kong
  • Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of the International Baccalaureate Organization, former Minister of Education of Finland
  • Alain de Serres, Deputy Director of the Policy Studies Branch at the Economics Department, OECD
  • Andria Zafirakou, Associate Deputy Headteacher Alperton Community School, United Kingdom

Discussion of keynote speaker and panellists with audience

Following the keynote speech, panellists will briefly provide their perspective on the topic. Ministers and other stakeholders in the audience will then engage in a discussion with the keynote speaker and the panellists.


15:30 - 16:00 Coffee break

16:00 - 17:40 Session 2

Building democratic societies through education

Resilient democratic structures and decision-making supported by civic participation are preconditions for inclusive, sustainable societies and economies. Education can instil civic and democratic values in learners and enhance their agency and civic responsibility. Higher levels of education are also associated with higher voter engagement, greater trust in democratic institutions and more support for free speech. They are also a predictor of social capital, including actual social relationships and networks, and norms of trust and reciprocity that facilitate co-operation between individuals. At the same time, rising levels of education have not automatically translated into strengthened democracies. In many countries, we have seen a decline in trust in democratic institutions as well as growing political polarisation. Data from PISA and PIAAC suggest that education, civic engagement, open-mindedness and tolerance do not always align.

So how can we leverage the power of education to help learners navigate ambiguity and increasingly complex information, escape the digital echo-chambers and develop greater awareness and openness to other ways of thinking, and build a stronger sense of civic responsibility and democratic engagement? Reinforcing spaces for fact-based engagement and debate is vital for democracies, economies and societies. More broadly, how can education shape behaviour so individuals actively contribute to their communities – e.g. through volunteering or community services – and effectively influence business practices – e.g. through consumption and lifestyle patterns, personal investment choices or employment preferences?

Panel with:

  • Jaak Aaviksoo, former Minister of Education and former Minister of Defence of Estonia
  • Geoff Mulgan, Professor of Collective Intelligence, Public Policy and Social Innovation, University College London, United Kingdom
  • Jacqueline Ottmann, President of First Nations University of Canada
  • Elsa Pilichowski, Director for Public Governance, OECD
  • Oon-Seng Tan, Director, Centre for Research in Child Development, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Discussion of panellists with audience

Panellists will briefly provide their perspective on the topic. Ministers and other stakeholders in the audience will then engage in a discussion the panellists.


17:40 - 18:00 Closing session

The moderator and the EDPC Ministerial co-chairs will summarise the key takeaways of the High Level Policy Forum and link them to the theme of the EDPC Ministerial, “Re-building an inclusive and equitable society through education”.


18:00 - 20:00 Cocktail

Hosted by Canada, Estonia and Finland


19:30 - 21:30 Ministerial dinner

Hosted by Canada, Estonia and Finland

Reimagining educational partnerships for equity and inclusion