In response to the rapid emergence of new and powerful generative AI tools, on Thursday, UNESCO held the first global meeting of Ministers of Education to explore the immediate as well as far-reaching opportunities, challenges and risks that AI applications pose to education systems. Over 40 Ministers came together to share policy approaches and plans on how best to integrate these tools into education. During the online discussion on 25 May 2023, UNESCO presented a roadmap on generative AI and education, including open multistakeholder dialogue.
“Generative AI opens new horizons and challenges for education. But we urgently need to take action to ensure that new AI technologies are integrated into education on our terms. It is our duty to prioritize safety, inclusion, diversity, transparency and quality — as stated in the UNESCO Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence adopted unanimously by our Member States.” — Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education
Ministers highlighted several pressing challenges and shared policy approaches
During the discussion, some common concerns emerged including how to adapt education systems to the disruptions generative AI is quickly causing, how to integrate generative AI into curricula, teaching methods and examinations, and how to mitigate the inherent flaws of these technologies, including the capacity for making glaring errors and producing biased information.
The ministerial debate revealed that governments worldwide are in the process of formulating appropriate policy responses in this rapidly evolving landscape - further developing or refining national strategies on AI, on data protection, and other regulatory frameworks.
Only 10% of schools and universities have formal guidance on AI
A new UNESCO global survey of over 450 schools and universities found that fewer than 10% have developed institutional policies and/or formal guidance concerning the use of generative AI applications. The results illustrate that an immediate response to the sudden emergence of these powerful generative AI applications that can produce written and visual creations is challenging for institutions.
The vital role teachers play in this new era as learning facilitators was highlighted. But teachers need guidance and training to meet these challenges.
UNESCO's policy guidelines and competencies framework
UNESCO will continue to steer the global dialogue with policy-makers, EdTech partners, academia and civil society. The Organization is developing policy guidelines on the use of generative AI in education and research, as well as frameworks of AI competencies for students and teachers for school education. These will be launched during the Digital Learning Week, which will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 4-7 September 2023.
UNESCO has unique expertise, through its mandate for education and for sciences. In recent years, the Organization has led a global reflection on the Futures of Education, and it has also established the first global normative framework for the ethics of artificial intelligence, unanimously adopted by its 193 Member States in November 2021.
UNESCO’s work in AI in education
UNESCO is supporting its Member States to harness the potential of AI technologies in its areas of competence. UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI adopted in 2021 sets the appropriate normative framework. In the area of education, the Organization rallied stakeholders around the Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence and Education in 2019 and has published several guidelines, including AI and education: A guide for policy-makers in 2021.
All of the following reports are available via https://unesdoc.unesco.org/: