top of page

Educating Learners for Their Future - Not Our Past - Professor Andreas Schleicher

Professor Andreas Schleicher

Director for Education and Skills

Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Date: September 17, 2021 (Friday)

Time: 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm (HKT)

"… the future of education is no longer just about teaching students something, but more about providing them with a reliable compass and the tools to navigate with confidence in this world that is increasingly volatile, complex, ambiguous and uncertain, VUCA, as they called it."
Download PDF • 9.30MB


We now live in a world in which the kind of things that are easy to teach and test have also become easy to digitise and automate. If we want to stay ahead of technological developments, we have to find and refine the qualities that are truly human, and that complement, not compete with, capacities we have created in our computers. So beyond teaching mathematics and science, tomorrow’s schools need to help students think for themselves and join others in work and citizenship. They need to help students develop a strong sense of right and wrong and sensitivity to the claims that others make. At work, at home and in the community, people will need a deep understanding of how others think, whether as scientists or artists, and how others live, in different cultures and traditions.

Of course, if the goals of education are changing, our educational approaches and structures need to change too. The conventional approach in school is often to break problems down into manageable bits and pieces and then to teach students how to solve these bits and pieces. But modern societies create value by synthesising different fields of knowledge, making connections between ideas that previously seemed unrelated, connecting the dots where the next innovation will come from.

In the past, schools were technological islands, with technology often limited to supporting and conserving existing practices, and students outpacing schools in their adoption of technology. Now schools need to use the potential of technologies to liberate learning from past conventions and connect learners in new and powerful ways, with sources of knowledge, with innovative applications and with one another.

The past was also divided – with teachers and content divided by subjects and students separated by expectations of their future career prospects; with schools designed to keep students inside, and the rest of the world outside; with a lack of engagement with families and a reluctance to partner with other schools. The future needs to be much more integrated – with an emphasis on the inter-relation of subjects and the integration of students.

About the Speaker

Professor Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills at the OECD. He initiated and oversees the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and other international instruments that have created a global platform for policy-makers, researchers and educators across nations and cultures to innovate and transform educational policies and practices.

Professor Schleicher has worked for over 20 years with ministers and education leaders around the world to improve quality and equity in education. Former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that Professor Schleicher “understands the global issues and challenges as well as or better than anyone I’ve met, and he tells me the truth” (The Atlantic, July 11). Former UK Secretary of State Michael Gove called him “the most important man in English education” – even though he is German and lives in France.

Before joining the OECD, Professor Schleicher was Director for Analysis at the International Association for Educational Achievement (IEA). He studied Physics in Germany and received a degree in Mathematics and Statistics in Australia. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the Theodor Heuss Prize, awarded in the name of the first president of the Federal Republic of Germany for “exemplary democratic engagement”. He holds an honorary Professorship at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.


bottom of page