Alliance set up at world conference on digital education

Yang Meiping
Meeting organized by the Ministry of Education, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the Shanghai government gathered more than 800 participants from around the world.
Yang Meiping
Alliance set up at world conference on digital education
Ti Gong

Simona-Mirela Miculescu, president of the 42nd General Conference of UNESCO, delivers a speech at the opening ceremony of the 2024 World Digital Education Conference.

A world digital education alliance was set up on Tuesday at the 2024 World Digital Education Conference in Shanghai.

The alliance, with 104 initial organizations from 41 countries and regions, will promote inclusive, equitable, and quality education through digital education transformation.

Under the theme of "Digital Education: Application, Sharing, and Innovation," the conference organized by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the Shanghai government gathered more than 800 participants, including over 400 representatives from around 70 countries, regions and international organizations.

Chen Jining, Secretary of the Communist Party of China Shanghai Committee, said at the conference's opening ceremony that as digital technology is driving education reform, China is promoting educational digitization and building a learning-oriented society for all. In Shanghai, China's economic center, said Chen, digital education is leading its educational modernization.

He said Shanghai will promote deeper integration of education with digital technology, and make educational resources digitalized, accessible and affordable for all. It will also reform educational concepts and approaches to build up a digital system that is equal, with individualized life-long learning experience for everyone.

The city will make its digital education system more open and share its experiences and resources with other countries while strengthening intellectual property protection, data security management and digital ethical risk prevention, to create a new digital education ecosystem to benefit people all over the world, he added.

Alliance set up at world conference on digital education
Ti Gong

An exhibition at the World Expo Center, the conference venue, highlights digital education applications.

Cai Dafeng, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, said digital education has become the core driving force for change in education globally.

"China takes digital education as an important tool for promoting education equity and quality and building of a learning-oriented society," he said. "We will accelerate the deep integration of digital technology with digital education to empower students' learning, teachers' teaching and school governance."

He said China is ready to work with other countries to create a more open, inclusive and resilient digital education.

The international version of Smart Education of China (, a platform for public services in digital education, was also be launched at the conference, with about 780 courses in English, French, Arabic, Russian and Spanish, free for everyone from all over the world.

As UNESCO has adopted a resolution to establish the UNESCO International Institute for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in Shanghai, Cai said China will actively cooperate with UNESCO in preparing for its establishment, support UNESCO in playing a leading role in global education reform, and jointly promote the development of global STEM education and the digital transformation of education.

Huai Jinpeng, China's Minister of Education, said all countries have become more and more active in promoting digital education in the past year while China has turned its priorities from connection, content and cooperation to integration, intelligence and internationalization. It has enlarged the scale for application with more intelligent technologies, enhanced international exchanges and built up global digital education cooperation platforms, making China a practice platform to implement global development initiatives.

Simona-Mirela Miculescu, president of the 42nd General Conference of UNESCO, said digital education holds the immense potential "to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (of the the Education 2030 agenda) on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all."

She called on all UNESCO member states to provide free, open, and accessible-to-all public digital learning platforms, with special focuses on disabled people, girls and women.

She also said the UNESCO International Institute for STEM will become an important platform for international cooperation in education.

The conference, which will run through Wednesday, also includes six parallel sessions featuring discussions on the topics of digital literacy and competency of teachers; education digitalization and learning society construction; global trends of digital education development and evaluation index; artificial intelligence and digital ethics; challenges and opportunities of digital transformation for basic education; and digital governance in education.

The global digital education development index and a report on China's smart education development in 2023 will also be released, along with the launch of the journal Frontiers of Digital Education.

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