Equitable education for all is a foundation for sustainable development. In recognition of the need to reimagine education systems that overcome the barriers of today and meet the challenges of tomorrow, the United Nations will convene the Transforming Education Summit in September 2022. This Summit will bring stakeholders from around the world together to mobilise action and search for innovative solutions for transforming education before 2030.

IFLA is taking part in this global mobilisation, starting with participating in the upcoming Transforming Education Pre-Summit, to be hosted by UNESCO from 28-30 June.

The Pre-Summit will generate momentum through dialogue and stakeholder engagement. It will offer an open forum to discuss key elements within the Summit’s Thematic Action Tracks, being elaborating content for the Summit, and create a shared vision for work of the Summit.

IFLA is exciting to be bringing the voice of libraries to these preparatory discussions. Keep reading to see how we have been engaged in consultations on the Thematic Action Tracks and share input to help inform our further engagement at the Pre-Summit later this month.

Thematic Action Tracks

In the Summit’s Concept Note, the following areas have been deemed as deserving of particular attention and action in order to achieve education-related sustainable development goals:

  1. Inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools
  2. Teachers, teaching, and the teaching profession
  3. Learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development
  4. Digital learning and transformation
  5. Financing of education

These are the Summit’s five Thematic Action Tracks. The Pre-Summit will include inclusive, interactive sessions in which a variety of stakeholders can exchange on emerging issues within these Thematic Action Tracks, share best practices, and explore potential strategic initiatives.

To inform these sessions, UN Member States, UN agencies, and other civil society stakeholders have been elaborating discussion papers on each Thematic Action Tracks to identify key issues and draft recommended actions.

Explore these discussion papers in more depth here: Knowledge Hub – Thematic Action Tracks.

Libraries in the Thematic Action Tracks

Libraries, within schools, universities, and communities, have a strong role to play within most, if not all, these action areas.

In preparation for the Pre-Summit, IFLA joined consultations on Track 3 (Learning and skills for life, work, and sustainable development) and Track 4 (Digital learning and transformation) to advocate for this perspective to be considered in the final discussion papers.

Skills for life, work, and sustainable development

We were delighted to see that the draft discussion paper for Track 3 [see the draft here] featured a strong emphasis on creating synergy between culture and education. It recognises that cultural content can help impart lessons from the past while also transmitting diverse ways of knowing, building on local wisdom and knowledge, and passing on the living heritage of one’s community.

This draft also upholds the importance of adopting a lifelong approach to learning and recognising learning that has been carried out in non-formal settings.

In IFLA’s interactions during the consultation, we stressed that non-formal educators and educational institutions, both within the school and within the community, should be approached as partners and co-creators of learning environments which help transmit skills for life, work, and sustainable development.

For an example, we pointed to the role of Green Libraries in modelling sustainable behaviour, educating their communities on climate change and empowering climate action. We also pointed out that the impact of libraries in this regard is underlined in the principles of both the IFLA-UNESCO School Library and Public Library Manifestos.

Bridging the Digital Divide

The draft discussion paper on Track 4 [see draft here] offers the following recommendations to ensure equitable access to digital learning:

  1. Build and maintain robust, free, public digital learning content and platforms
  2. Focus on how technology can accelerate learning by enabling evidence-based instructional practice at scale
  3. Ensure connectivity and digital learning opportunities for all
  4. Protecting learners and educators

IFLA supported these vectors of digital transformation but stressed the important role that non-formal educators and institutions have in ensuring access to the internet, to a diversity of digital content, ICT equipment, and the skills and competencies required to participate in the knowledge society.

In this, we stressed the critical role that libraries play in building multiple literacies, including digital and media and information literacy. This point was echoed by several stakeholders who shared the perspective that these literacies are critical skills for transforming education to support sustainable development.

Look to notes from IFLA’s recent session at Mozfest 2022 for more: Interrogating Media Literacy as a Response to Misinformation.

Looking Ahead

IFLA is looking forward to building on these initial discussions during the course of the Transforming Education Pre-Summit later this month.

There will be multiple options to join interactive dialogues and in-depth discussions on these Thematic Action Tracks during the course of the Pre-Summit.

The bottom-line for our advocacy is that non-formal educators within schools and communities, such as libraries, should be considered as partners and co-creators of inclusive and equitable learning communities.

When discussing the power of synergies between culture and education, IFLA will advocate for recognition of the need to partner with institutions that preserve and provide access to tangible and intangible cultural heritage and cultural expressions.

IFLA will continue to stress the importance of integrating a lifelong perspective on education into the transforming education dialogue. In this, we will highlight the important role libraries have in adult education strategies. See IFLA’s recent report for more: Realising the Potential: Integrating Libraries into Adult Education Strategies.

We will further stress the critical role that libraries are playing in bridging the digital divide and transmitting digital skills and competencies needed to thrive.


Do you have feedback or best practice examples on the role of libraries in transforming education or on the topics covered in the Thematic Action Tracks? Let us know!

Your input will help inform our interactions in the upcoming Pre-Summit and in the resulting preparations for the Transforming Education Summit later this year.

Get in touch before 28 June to share your ideas: claire.mcguire@ifla.org