The necessity of educational planning in uncertain times

16 November 2023


IIEP Director Martín Benavides set the scene for the 60th Anniversary Symposium.

The UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning commemorated its 60th anniversary with a Symposium on the Future of Educational Planning from 8 to 9 November in Paris, France and online with 1,400 participants from some 150 countries and territories. The event spotlighted the milestones and impact of IIEP-UNESCO – the sole United Nations organization with the mission to support educational planning and management – while also proposing a path to leverage the power of planning to transform education and build a more just, equitable world.

In a written statement, UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay emphasized the critical role of IIEP-UNESCO in ensuring the intrinsic right to quality education for everyone, everywhere.

Strong education systems, capable of withstanding the immense challenges of our times and able to harness the power of education to drive solutions, depend on planning. IIEP’s added value lies in its unique combination of research, training, and technical assistance work – three major cross-fertilizing lines of action that have allowed the Institute to remain consistently at the forefront of its field throughout the years.”
-    UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay

Inaugurating the Symposium, alongside Ministers of Education, the French National Commission, and partners, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, Stefania Giannini, underscored the impact of IIEP’s training of 24,000 people in 183 countries and publication of 2,000 knowledge products over the years. By enhancing planning and management capacities, IIEP has worked alongside countries to develop education sector plans that tackle persistent challenges like the lack of accountability in education and inequalities, as well as emerging issues such as climate change.

Throughout the two days, it was evident that the global education community and partners cannot rest on their laurels as children and youth continue to be marginalized worldwide, and evolving and complex challenges jeopardize their futures. Educational planning should, therefore, continue to become more agile and embrace new innovations to respond to local realities.

We must continue learning, improving, researching, and finding new ways to support countries with our expertise. We are also eager to tap into the creative capacity that can exist in the planning process, adapting and expanding our instruments through innovation.”
-    Martín Benavides, IIEP-UNESCO Director

The Symposium featured six thematic panels with experts and country representatives, covering digital technology, planning and management to improve learning, gender and equity in education, governance, transparency, and finance, planning for crises and climate change, and skills for the future.

Reflecting on IIEP-UNESCO's 60-year mandate, established in 1963 during a transformative era, keynote speaker Fernando Reimers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education highlighted the enduring relevance of planning in the face of global uncertainty.

Educational planning needs to adapt to the velocity and nature of the challenges of our times, becoming more agile, articulating more explicitly the theories of action which underlie the plans, to support the rapid learning and adaptation that the new challenges require.”
-    Fernando Reimers, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

In a second keynote address, Sara Ruto, an IIEP-UNESCO governing board member, called for transformative action, urging a movement beyond technical approaches and traditional actors to reach every single child and youth with sound planning and inclusive and equitable strategies. Looking forward, Ruto said, “let attention be on the 15%, or 5% outside of the system, and the planning and strategies that will focus on embracing them to the system.” To put this into action, IIEP will use the reflections and rich discussions to shape its support to countries going forward. This will entail multi-level planning, including continued emphasis on the middle-tier, and involving new voices such as civil society organizations.

Photo highlights from the Symposium

Rediscover the panels

Day 1, morning

Day 1, afternoon

Day 2, morning

Day 2, afternoon