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Strengthening the Impact of International Education upon the Pillars of Access, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
Any invitation to make predictions for the future is likely to end in failure.
One only has to look at the pre-pandemic predictions for 2020 to see just how off we all were. Therefore, rather than take out the proverbial crystal ball, I would like to offer two aspirations for the future of international education.
Firstly, our industry must broaden its local and global impact by embracing an access agenda. Secondly, international education must maintain the momentum relative to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in order to ensure the flourishing of our communities.
In short, we must focus on these two essential pillars to fulfil our ambitions to positively shape the world through the preparation of the next generation of global citizens.
The disproportionate global COVID-19 response we are witnessing is amplifying existing inequities in our global financial system (Moreira da Silva, 2021). What is the responsibility of fee-collecting international schools who benefit at some level from these inequities?
To model excellence, our institutions must adopt a more expansive view of our impact to transform our communities and the world at-large. In this moment, international schools must dream big about an access agenda to uplift the societies around them. Such an agenda could include scholarships for less privileged students, training of local teachers to bolster national education systems, opening up facilities to the community, blended learning partnerships with communities across the globe, local staff pay equity, and more.
There are a multitude of access initiatives which can be tailored to fit various institutional types. The transformative possibilities we could achieve are limitless if our institutions centre their strategies on global and local impact through access.
In response to the global outcry for racial justice following the death of George Floyd, many international education institutions increased their focus on anti-racism and the broader concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ). While some schools have seen some positive progress, others may be facing open resistance or greater discord resulting from their efforts. Institutions experiencing challenges with their DEIJ efforts must understand that this is part of the process of growth. According to Tapia and Polonskala (2018, p. 7), when diverse perspectives are brought together, disruption and conflict may emerge in the initial stages.
However, given time and inclusive leadership, these differences can be leveraged to achieve better performance than that of homogenous groups (Tapia and Polonskala 2018). Schools must, therefore, remain persistent with their DEIJ initiatives. If we wish to create environments where all identities represented in our communities can thrive, we must stay focused on this work and it will eventually pay off. DEIJ is not about a destination but rather a journey of continuous improvement.
Embody our Mission
A glance at our institutional mission statements showcase the lofty ambitions of international education. We wish to nurture internationally minded global citizens capable of bridging differences to solve the myriad challenges the world poses.
To truly live up to our ambitions, we must adopt a bold access agenda which will deepen our local and global connectedness, provide a springboard for less privileged groups, and make our institutions centres for excellence. We must also remain steadfast amidst disruption or conflict in order to reap the rewards of our DEIJ efforts. Our communities can only fully embody their missions when our most marginalized voices are heard and feel a sense of belonging.
What’s next for international education?
I have no idea, but access and DEIJ must be central pillars for us to harness our collective power to transform our world.
* All views expressed are Nunana’s own and do not represent the views of CIS.
Moreira da Silva, J 2021. Global Crisis, Unequal Problems: If vaccines and recovery remain a developed country luxury, we will remain locked in crisis. Available here (Accessed: 1 June 2021)
Tapia, A. and Polonskala, A. 2018. The 5 Disciplines of Inclusive Leaders: Unleashing the power of all of us. Korn Ferry
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Narration By Jason Lasky (Armenia)
Jason Lasky is a published playwright, lauded theatre director, and 14-year international teaching veteran who holds an MEd in IB Education and an MFA in Writing for Stage and Screen. He is the co-Artistic Director of J.Lasky Productions, a grant-winning international theatre company, and the founder of J.Lasky Voices, his voiceover production studio.
He currently resides in Dilijan, Armenia with his family.
Jason can be contacted on Twitter, LinkedIn or via his website. A sample of his voice work is here.