Global education isn’t working well enough. National systems don’t prioritise global citizenship, character or skills. Most young people learn the wrong things in the wrong ways.  And 75 million kids aren’t in formal education at all.


We need to revolutionise education around the knowledge, skills, and character that today’s learners need to thrive in the 21st century.

We need new global learning goals of the head, hand, and heart.


We have a plan, and actions to take.
Learners, parents, teachers, universities, tech leaders, business people, governments and international organisations are all needed to make the learning revolution happen. 


We met the pioneers of the next learning revolution, in Abu Dhabi, London, Mumbai, Silicon Valley, Nairobi, Lebanon, Singapore, Oslo, Canberra and beyond. We are building the connections that will make this revolution happen.


We Need a

Learning Revolution

Humanity faces an existential challenge. This is a time of unprecedented technological change and movement of people. What it means to be human is in flux.  

But what is taught is not connected to the demands of the future economy and society.

This generation will not be equipped with the skills they need. Polarisation, extremism, inequality, drift, intolerance and distrust will increase.

Education content and assessment focus on classic academic knowledge, not character and skills. Education systems reinforce existing hierarchies, not helping young people build networks of global citizens.

Fail to educate people about the wisdom of coexistence and we will get more wall builders and warmakers.

Tom Fletcher is director of Towards Global Learning Goals – for more on Tom and the rest of the team see ‘About Us’.


on ‘Why’:

Our first report


The World Needs Global Learning Goals

Tom’s episodes on


Sarah Brown’s Better Angels podcast

Tom’s article for The National


How to beat the robots


We Need 

To Learn

We need a revolution in how and what humans learn. The foundation for this should be new global learning goals of the head, hand and heart.

We will have to be brave enough to master technology rather than be mastered by it.

To be kind enough to reduce inequality rather than widen it.

To be curious enough to invent new ways of living and organising ourselves.

We will need the knowledge that humankind has built over millennia. And the skills and character to thrive, adapt, learn, create, and coexist as global citizens.

1. Learn how we evolve

2. Learn how we coexist

3. Understand our relationship with our planet

4. How to learn (and keep learning)

5. How to adapt

6. How to manage yourself and your life

7. Stay kind

8. Stay curious

9. Stay courageous


on ‘What’:

Our report proposing the global learning goals


Kindling the Flame

Making the case for global learning goal #2


Teach the history of co-existence over conflict

Embracing the variety of frameworks, not competing


‘Framework Wars’


We Can

Get There

We need a reawakening of global education.

Thanks to the internet, young people anywhere could access top-class education and collaboration resources. Learning in the future will be more collaborative, more digital and more human.

The digital economy will bring extraordinary opportunities to learn, innovate and create together.  Global citizens will gain greater control of their own lives, including their education. The internet can liberate humanity’s ability to reason together.

At its core, this is a challenge of politics not education. We need to create new coalitions for change, and give a voice and a platform to those who can shape and win the arguments.


on ‘How’:

Our report setting out our plan


From Ferment to Fusion

Lessons from pioneer countries, actions for the UN


Islands of Opportunity

How tech can help, not just disrupt


Our Tech Manifesto

What happened at student hackathons in four countries


Letting Learners Lead

Existential questions – and some answers – for


Universities of the Future

Taking parents’ concerns seriously


Persuading Parents


Can Lead

The Way

The world is full of pioneers who can make the global education awakening happen. Learners, parents, teachers, universities, businesses, the tech industry, governments and international organisations.

Meaningful change will not be top down. Instead it requires a connecting of the dots. Our aspiration has been is to highlight these talismanic examples; to help to connect them; to expose the obstacles they face (collectively, by sector and individually) and to make practical recommendations that will liberate them to drive the change that is needed.

Educators and governments; the businesses that want to see people better equipped with the right skills; the parents who want their children to thrive. And most importantly young people themselves, who will lead the next learning Renaissance.

Here are some pioneers whose work we want to champion.

Baroness Valerie Amos

The Insider's Outsider

Valerie has been a trailblazer for equal opportunity, leading by example as the first black woman in the British cabinet and then as the head of the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator. As Vice Chancellor of SOAS, she is now ensuring that a generation of learners understand local context, and the contested narratives of history. In her podcast interview for this project, she traced this back to the arguments her parents encouraged at the dinner table.

John Sexton

The global visionary

John is a force of nature who has already had a huge impact on how to deliver higher education at the global level. The architect of NYU’s global campus concept, his legacy was to give students (from every continent) the chance to develop the cultural understanding that can only be developed by living and studying with learners from different backgrounds. The university of the future - or as he stresses “a university of the future” will owe much to the approach he has pioneered.

Fernando Reimers and Connie Chung

The professors of coexistence

Many academics are captured by the systems in which they work. But Fernando and Connie have developed a curriculum that - as it is more widely adopted - can change education at all levels. Aiming to equip diverse students from all over the world with a comprehensive global citizenship education, their 2016 book “Empowering Global Citizens: A World Course” presents itself as a thorough curriculum to teach and learn the competencies and skills necessary to navigate our times.

“One of the ways in which we can make progress is to break what is a very ambitious undertaking: I don’t hope that we are going to have necessarily every country in the world ready to include a mandatory global citizenship curriculum in their courses. `{`...`}` but I don’t doubt for a second that you can build coalitions with various individuals and groups and networks, interested in global citizenship, and that you can tell them how to do it.``

Goldie Hawn

On a mission for mindfulness

Goldie has long practised mindfulness and promoted wellbeing. But it was after 9/11 that she realised that this was a campaign that needed to be felt far beyond California. Through her Foundation, she is now working hard to find partners to translate a mindfulness curriculum into more languages, including Arabic. Pioneering educators in the Middle East and beyond are recognising the potential of such a programme. Watch this space.

Sarah Zeid

Advocate for the voiceless

Sarah is a board member of Towards Global Learning Goals. As an activist for women and children in the toughest of environments, she has brought extraordinary tenacity and courage to the global education effort. She has helped us understand that the next leap forward in global education has to prioritise those currently denied a decent education. And that nothing will succeed unless we convince parents of the need to change.

Andria Zafirakou

Creativity guru

Visiting Alperton Community School, where Andria teaches art, you are swept up by the infectious energy she brings to her vocation, and by the evidence - on walls and in student conversations - that this works. She argues passionately that creativity is the basis for success in all subjects. Last year, she was recognised by the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize as the teacher of the year.

Sarah Brown

The coalition builder

“Grab the high hanging fruit, and cling on”. For almost a decade, Sarah has been at the intersection of the business, NGO, social media and government coalitions most engaged on global education. More than anyone in this space, she has identified the way in which public campaigns can combine with innovative pilots and quiet, patient lobbying to make change happen. She maintains that the way to get education higher up the agenda is to show that it is the key that unlocks all other global challenges. Sarah’s choice of campaigns, and methods (from youth ambassadors to podcasts) are normally a good indication as to where other reformers in the sector will be in two years. Sarah even gave us a four-step blueprint for how to change the world based on her experience with TheirWorld.

Tariq Fancy

The democratiser of opportunity

A close friend’s death led Tariq - a Canadian innovator - to set aside a successful career as a tech investor, and look instead at how to ensure poor communities can access educational resources. Years of experimentation led his team at Rumie to develop ‘the LearnCloud’, a crowd-sourced platform of material. Now backed by Accenture, UNICEF and others, Tariq allows us to imagine the equivalent of an education Wikipedia, from which educators and learners can select the resources they need. If the best learning resource on, say, Pythagoras, is available for free online, why would you choose anything else? Tariq is not someone who thinks small. Rumie’s aim is to become the world’s largest open repository of free learning content, collaboratively organised and localised for different communities and cultures.

Efosa Ojomo

Making compassion more effective

One of the most useful debates sparked by our conversations has been ‘What is education for?’ Efosa Ojomo from the Christensen Institute has just launched a brilliant book - ‘The Prosperity Paradox’ - he had a similar analysis of the problem, but a different perspective than many of our other interviewees on the balance in that debate.

“Instead of educating kids with the hope that they find some job somewhere, you have to look at the needs of the economy, and work backwards - that’s an uncomfortable thing to do but that’s how we’ve always done it. Some people will say, how can education be dictated by private sector, education is a human right, there is value in education in its own right. There *is* inherent value in learning, but there is a significant cost, and somebody has to pay for that learning, and if we don’t find a model for how to pay for it, there’s not going to be any education at all.”

Jairaj Mashru

Making tech work for education and education work for tech

A board member of Towards Global Learning Goals, Jairaj is an Innovation Executive at Salesforce, and has donated his time to the project as part of Salesforce’s pioneering scheme for employees to support initiatives of social value. Jairaj has built an impressive network of Indian education pioneers, of great interest given that India will be the laboratory in which many of the most interesting innovations are tested - combining as it does a dynamic entrepreneurial sector and a formal education system that has so far been slow to adapt. Jairaj has also brought to the project a strategic rigour to focus where we can add genuine value.

Fadi Daou

Courageous coexister

Fadi does not look like a revolutionary. He wears a dog collar, and listens quietly and modestly. Yet in reality he is on the frontline of the key arguments in the Middle East, and increasingly the world. His NGO, Adyan, has pioneered a curriculum to teach coexistence, among Lebanon’s often fiercely divided religious communities. If it can work in Lebanon, it could work anywhere.

Dubai Abulhoul

The stereotype defier

Dubai had won ‘Young Arab of the Year’ even before winning a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. A successful author of children’s books that challenge stereotypes, she has been an outspoken advocate of the importance of young people shaping their own lives. As the centre of gravity for much policy innovation moves east and south, it will be pioneers like Dubai who will increasingly shape the debate.

“When we were in first grade we were taught the importance of colouring inside the lines. We need to learn the exact opposite: the importance of colouring outside the lines.”

Jeremy Heimans & Henry Timms

The prophets of purpose

Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms have written ‘New Power’ a nifty guide to the 21st century that is genuinely new and informs much of our approach. Instead of one more catchy way of describing how the world works, they have written a manifesto for organising that world with more humanity and purpose. Ultimately you’ll either hate it or wish you had written it, depending on whether you believe in old or new power. But more importantly, they are putting the ideas into action though ‘Purpose’, building the kinds of coalitions and campaigns that change the world. We hope that those lessons can inform the education revolution to come.

Loubna Hadid


A blockchain pioneer, Loubna is also driven by a passion for education. Among those we have met, she stands out as wanting to use the immense technological potential he is developing to make a genuine difference in people’s lives. Blockchain will in the coming years reshape the way that schools and universities manage their operations. It could also provide the answer to the accreditation challenge we identify in this report. If learners can carry with them a digital recognition of
the skills and knowledge they have developed, that can have credibility with future employers and others. It would mean the disruption of national control of educational qualifications.

Randa Grob-Zakhary

Connecting the dots

A former brain surgeon, Randa has a forensic ability to map the global education sector and make connections that no-one else sees. As a TGLG board member, she has also brought to this project her networks and belief in the importance of working with existing research. The global education sector needs people who can make the linkages between so much brilliant but disparate activity. No-one does that like Randa.

Dr. Tara Swart

Ensuring our brains are prepared for the challenges ahead

As a neuroscientist, Tara really understands the brain. But unlike most neuroscientists, she can really explain it. What she shares is that all of us face an urgent need to take better care of our brain health, particularly amid the sensory bombardment of the digital age. As parents and educators become more worried about the negative effects of exposure to digital technology, she is a thought leader who can help guide us as to what balance to strike, to ensure that learners make the technology work for them, and not the other way round.

Andreas Schleicher

The visionary geek

There are few senior officials at international organisations whose names are known beyond their corridors. But Andreas Schleicher’s work has gained him rock star status on the global education circuit. Having developed the PISA assessments of national education success, he became worried that his work was driving governments towards a more assessment-based competition. So he has changed tack, developing innovative ways of teaching and assessing ‘global competence’.

``Students who grow up with great smartphones but poor education are facing very significant and unprecedented risk. in the past teaching content knowledge was always a tower of education but in the world in which we live today we are no longer rewarded for what you know.``

Graham Brown-Martin

The advocate

Graham has been on the frontline of these arguments for some time, making the case for a reimagination of education. He has stuck at it tenaciously as others have come and gone, consistently martialing the facts and picking the right arguments. As vested interests dig in, he is someone who can help to corral and convince people of why change is necessary.

Anthony Seldon

The headstand headmaster

New arrivals and their parents at Buckingham University - ranked No 1 of the UK’s private higher education institutions - are probably not expecting the Vice Chancellor to perform part of his welcome standing on his head. But Anthony is not a conventional education leader. He has written prolifically about the importance of teaching wellbeing, and put his ideas into practise through groups such as the International Positive Education Network and as a Board member on this project.

“We’re still in this third stage, the factory model of education. Very few people in education ministries around the world have explored what education is or can be - what it means to be human. This needs to be understood more clearly as we are now entering the fourth education revolution, which is the most important revolution for 500 years: artificial intelligence is altogether different from what happened earlier.”

Baan Dek Foundation

Digital superheroes

The Baan Dek Foundation, an NGO based in Northern Thailand, established the Digital Superheroes Academy to teach slum children essential life skills, in the form of superpowers. But unlike the many institutions which focus on 21st century skills, the Academy works on a more practical set, including internet safety, and dealing with discrimination and domestic violence. These are the educational needs that are most needed among the vulnerable communities they are working with. This focus on practical life skills should not be unique to poorer populations. Traditionally these were taught at home and in the community.


on ‘Who’:

A prime minister, a neuroscientist, a toy-maker, and an AI expert talk about what we should learn.
Listen here:

Download for laterListen to the series
Watch HRH Princess Sarah Zeid tell the Global Education & Skills Forum:


“We must find the courage to think differently”

Our team member Angela investigates:


Silcon Valley’s recruitment shopping list



Everyone should be able to develop the knowledge, skills and character they need to thrive as global citizens.

We will continue our journey towards Global Learning Goals by:

1) Nurturing a network of influential champions of change.

2) Making the case for education of the whole child.

3) Supporting initiatives that will have the highest impact.

COPENHAGEN: Yoga with Usher and speaking to innovators at the Spotify ‘Brilliant Minds’ conference
MUMBAI: Hackathon with students hacking their own curriculum
SYDNEY: Hackathon with students hacking their curriculum.
BRUSSELS: Steering the creation and agenda of the Global Tech Panel
DUBAI: Launching reports at the World Government Summit
UAE: Panel on education and digital at the launch of the Arab Youth Survey
TUNISIA: Global Tech Panel pilot programme mentoring a generation of future entrepreneurs.
NEW YORK: Speaking at the United Nations and influencing the UN’s tech panel.
CALIFORNIA: Visiting innovators and discussing positive disruption in Silicon Valley.
SHANGHAI: Hackathon where students hacked their curriculum
LONDON: Tom Fletcher presents evidence on digital age to UK Parliament’s House of Lords

We are all educators.
We are all learners.
Get involved.

Download the survival guide: 'Be Kind, Curious, and Brave'

We promise we won't spam you.

© Towards Global Learning Goals 2019