La Jornada – Critical Higher Education for Social Welfare, Experts Raise

Mexico City. In higher education, a change is urgent so as not to see university education only as a service, but as a social right, which builds a critical view of social welfare and protection of the environment, specialists warned.

During the global presentation of the report “Pathways to 2050 and beyond. Results of a Public Consultation on the Futures of Higher Education ”, prepared by the International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco ), emphasized the growing need to promote a change in the paradigms of higher education in order to guarantee greater justice and social well-being.

The main findings include that 30 percent of respondents believe that higher education should help promote social well-being; 26 percent to generate peace processes; another 20 percent believe that university education should help promote social justice, and the same percentage believe that it should serve to reduce inequities.

In a virtual conference, Andrew Augustine, president of the Governing Council of Unesco-IESALC, highlighted that recent years “have been marked by phenomena such as the growth of private providers and the privatization of higher education financed with public funds, as well as the development of accreditation systems, and greater access and changes in the way in which higher education is financed, which imposes new challenges ”.

Emma Sabzalieva, a member of the team that prepared the report, pointed out that the consultation, in which 1,199 respondents from 97 countries participated, who responded to an online questionnaire, emphasized hopes and concerns about four central themes: quality of life, social change , care for the environment and technology development.

Respondents expressed concern about health, poor quality of life, continuity of social inequalities and inequalities, war and conflict, environmental degradation, and unethical uses of technology.

Against this, it is proposed to strengthen that higher education is more accessible and available to all, not only those who can pay for it, that it promotes more social justice and that it is more focused on students. Learning is proposed to be more inclusive and everywhere, accompanied by technology, but with sustainable use.

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