UNESCO’s latest report finds many hurdles to better education worldwide. As we seek an Education 4.0 environment, can AI make a difference?


UNESCO’s latest report finds many hurdles to better education worldwide. As we seek an Education 4.0 environment, can AI make a difference?

In the spring of 2024 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published The Global Report on Teachers. The report revealed 44 million additional primary and secondary teachers are needed to meet UNESCO’s 2030 goals of achieving inclusive, equitable, and quality education for everyone worldwide. They also found that staffing shortages are having other far-reaching effects such as increasing system costs, overburdening teachers, and jeopardizing the quality of education. But estimates suggest that funding the necessary teaching positions to achieve universal enrollment will cost around $120 billion annually.

To effectively address these challenges we must promote an Education 4.0 learning taxonomy — one that offers a comprehensive set of skills, attitudes, and values to prepare young learners for well-being in the economies of the future — and make sure we maximize new technologies as we do so.

Large classes impacting performance

A key issue impacting global education is large class size. It is presenting significant challenges for both educators and students. Studies have shown that larger classes can adversely affect teacher well-being and job satisfaction (OECD 2020g). Several factors influence teaching effectiveness and student learning outcomes, but class size and student-to-teacher ratios are crucial. Research shows that larger classes can affect teacher performance and student achievement (Leuven and Oosterbeek 2018; Education Endowment Foundation 2023).

Unfortunately, larger class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios are expected to become more common in the future due to increasing populations in low-income countries, the global teacher shortage, and limited funding for hiring and supporting educators.

If that wasn’t enough, teacher turnover has become especially high among new educators and those nearing retirement. This issue can worsen teacher shortages in nations where the average age of teachers is higher, such as in certain European countries, North America, and other wealthy nations.

Leveraging AI for Education 4.0

When used effectively, artificial intelligence applications (AI) can pave the way for improvements in global education systems, helping move us towards an Education 4.0 environment. Shortly after UNESCO published their findings, the World Economic Forum (WEF) also published an insight report, Shaping the Future of Learning: The Role of AI in Education 4.0. The report succinctly outlines the issues brought forth by UNESCO, while providing strategies to address them with the use of AI:

Integrating AI into education provides the opportunity to simplify a wide range of administrative tasks for teachers, freeing them up to engage more with students.
AI can help teachers assess learners more quickly, allowing for immediate feedback.
AI can enable students to develop skills in digital literacy, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.
AI can personalize the learning experience with support from teachers, enhancing academic performance and accommodating diverse learning needs.

You can watch their public discussion here. In all these areas, AI serves as a complementary tool that enhances the educational experience while preserving vital human elements of teaching and learning. Learning about AI and digital skills will help students prepare for future careers.

How Cisco can help move Education 4.0 forward

Sitting on my desk is a bronze coin given to me at a company event many years ago. It reminds me of the obligation those in my position hold to serve our customers during times of uncertainty and major transition. We are in one such transition now. Perhaps, the biggest in my lifetime. It is my job, the job of a Cisco Solutions Engineer (SE), to help guide you and your organization through these uncharted waters.

Cisco specializes in creating AI-ready infrastructure to support, secure, and connect your organization’s AI applications. While we don’t develop educational AI apps directly, our focus is on providing a robust framework that ensures network reliability, data integrity, and comprehensive security. As you navigate towards an Education 4.0 model, consider Cisco as your foundational partner in this transformative journey.

It is our privilege to be your trusted advisors, working with you to address the multitude of today’s educational and technological challenges. Every day, a majority of Fortune 500 companies the world over trust our solutions for their needs. We would love to help you as well.

Here are some samples of the solutions we can offer to assist you in your journey:

Meraki: Streamline AI network deployment with cloud-managed solutions, providing centralized control, visibility, and optimization for seamless AI and compute operations.
Nexus Switches, Intersight & Nexus Dashboard: Offer high-performance, low-latency network connectivity ideal for AI and compute-intensive workloads, the software to pro-actively monitor and manage it, and enabling efficient data transfers w/RoCEv2 support.
Catalyst 9K Switches & Catalyst 9100 Access Points: Provide robust and scalable network infrastructure for AI deployments, ensuring secure and efficient communication between your users and the AI applications they rely on.
Catalyst Center (formerly DNA Center): Simplifies network management for IT through automated provisioning, optimization, and monitoring, ensuring a seamless and secure network environment.
Cisco HyperShield: Enhances AI compute workloads by providing comprehensive security features to safeguard sensitive data during processing. Look for more at Cisco Live! 2024.
Webex w/Webex AI Assistant: Elevate team collaboration by utilizing AI-powered features to streamline communication, boost productivity, and facilitate efficient project management.

What’s your plan to prepare for Education 4.0? I encourage you to reach out to your Cisco account team today! Set up time to discuss your next move. Your students and faculty will be glad you did.

Next steps for Education 4.0

Cisco solutions for K12 Education
Transform the future of education
Maximize your share of E-rate funding for K12 schools and libraries


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