"The School Meets the World"

"The School Meets the World" is an annual conference organised by Sida, the Global School and the Swedish Council for Higher Education. The conference is about global issues and is aimed at teachers and school leaders. For this year's conference, which took place May 16 to 17, the organisers had chosen two focus areas: human rights and vocational training. The conference brought together about 300 participants and the invited speakers included the

Swedish Minister for International Develop-ment Cooperation and Sida's Director General as well as human rights activists, educators and scientists from Burma, Israel and Uganda – and also Swedish youth who gave examples of how they have worked with international issues in school.

Vocational education was the main issue during the second day. Youth unemploymen is becoming one of the biggest problems in the world and the lack of vocational education is one of the reasons. The conference discussed what kinds of global challenges this means – and what kinds of solutions are available.

In his speech, Professor Kenneth King (Center for African Studies, Scotland) reported conclusions from various global studies on vocational training from several independent organizations (including UNESCO, ILO and the World Bank). The reports are mutually different, but they all show a recurrent flaw in the national school systems: It is a large gap between what children learn in school and the work demands on vocational skills.

Fagil Mandy (Chairman of the Uganda National Education Board) explained how Uganda has highlighted these deficiencies and is now in the midst of a radical change in the curricula at all levels of the school system. The reform work is done under the slogan "Skilling Uganda" with the ambition that young people should have better professional skills when they leave school.

The experience from Ihushi was presented at the conference as an example of how local initiatives can contribute to improve the situation for young people. IDC's chairperson Emmanuel Buguba was invited to participate, but he had to decline for health reasons. Instead the experi-ence was presented by Lage Bergström.

Photos on this page: Mattias Landin,  Swedish Council for Higher Education