Nieves Segovia: “The Global Education Forum is more than just an event, it is a movement”

The three-day Global Education Forum has come to an end, but its work and aims continue. Now a new stage of development and collaboration has commenced. But before continuing with its work, Nieves Segovia, president of SEK Education Group, wanted to conclude the celebration by thanking all the participants for their contributions to building a broader and more influential learning community. “We have learnt a great deal,” she said.

For Nieves Segovia, the debate “had to happen, it had to be organised. We needed a broader perspective of higher education including society as a whole and leveraging students’ insights. It was necessary to analyse the future of learning and the role of education within it. And the GEF has been the realisation of that dream, to be able to realise the future of education after a very hard and challenging period. Now is the time to analyse the necessary changes and leverage the opportunities that are offered to us”.

“The GEF has a soul of its own. And from this cooperative spirit, from this community of work has emerged a manifesto of twelve principles that we believe should form the basis of higher education in the future. But it is only the beginning, the foundations. We would now like to extend the invitation to take part and welcome all kinds of ideas and proposals”, she added.

For his part, Richard Light, Professor of Education at Harvard University, who attended the closing ceremony virtually, highlighted a conclusion drawn following these days of analysis and debate: “A good education changes what you know. Better education changes what you think. A great education changes who you are“.

“Until now, students were containers, containers of knowledge. Now they have become the centre of education and education is going to change who they are”, he assured.

In this regard, Nieves Segovia pointed out that “universities should be vehicles of that education and training. Their purpose and responsibility should be to serve society, serve the needs of society. This requires accepting opportunities and facing challenges. We must create a broader and more shared learning ecosystem, in which human values are highlighted and in which the way of facing the fourth industrial revolution in which we are immersed is humanised”.

And in this humanisation ending inequalities plays a fundamental role. For many, the current situation, the one experienced during the pandemic and in this new normal in which we find ourselves, can generate more inequality, due to the gap in access to education. However, as Segovia sees it, “now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity to exact exponential change, creating a hybrid teaching model that allows us to be more creative and reach more students. You have to adjust the model, recreate it, design it so that its contents are accessible in person, digitally or in a hybrid way, according to the needs of students. This will be the way to put an end to inequalities, when students can decide how they access education”.

“I learn by listening to students,” said Nieves Segovia. For her “it is essential to know what they want, what they are passionate about, what motivates them. Now the boundaries in education have been blurred. Learning is a continuum throughout life, it is permanent, and the watertight compartments must be blurred. Students are critical, but optimistic. They offer solutions and want to be co-creators of the system. They want to be counted on to co-create the future of learning, and if we count on them, with the main agents of learning, success is guaranteed”.

The debate is open. Agents change, students have other learning spaces and that is why the change of model is a challenge and an opportunity. Until now, universities have been very relevant to society, but to remain so you have to learn, change and adapt. For this reason, there will be more GEFs, more meetings, because “we want to listen to everyone, we want everyone to participate. There is so much to do. We have to be able to connect our conclusions with those of others. This is a project that has no end, it is always ongoing. We have to form an informal network of conferences around education to create a large-scale ecosystem”, Segovia declared.

“A great ecosystem in which learning is permanent”, a phrase that is constantly repeated throughout the debates, conferences and exhibitions these days, but which, according to Richard Light, must be changed from now on to be “responsible lifelong learning. University should be a place where generations connect, exchange knowledge and share experiences so that throughout our lives we are learning, and we can give back to society”.

“We must create a global learning community, in which we are all fellow travellers. In which everyone learns, and everyone teaches. Where learners are supported and the vulnerable are supported, where challenges become new opportunities and, again, new learning. Because the future of learning is everyone’s future”, Light concluded.