Question box #9

To build this desired future, what we must all learn... at school is:

Photo: Leilani Angel


The question of what should be taught in schools to create the future that young people seek is central to this consultation, and is probably its most important result. This question incorporates the hopes, fears, and collective challenges expressed throughout by participants. It is the manifestation of potential solutions regarding the lessons that should be taught: a way for young people to transform their aspirations and concerns into concrete proposals for the educational system.

When they are asked what we must all learn at school to create the future they seek, the top answer given by young people is to learn or relearn personal values and virtues that allow people to “live together” in harmony. They mention areas such as respect, kindness, solidarity, moral values in general, tolerance, open-mindedness, empathy, acceptance, responsibility, friendship, love, and more.

This result, coupled with the near-total absence of traditional skills and aptitudes such as science, technology, engineering, math, social sciences, and the humanities, all of which are traditionally taught at school, is staggering. All over the world, the youth are practically shouting at the top of their lungs about the urgent need for a foundation of values and virtues on which to develop our social relationships and interactions with each other, and bring them back into harmony.

Global learnings

Almost a quarter of respondents see schools as a place in which to pass on personal values and virtues. They focus their attention on interpersonal values, qualities that nourish our social interactions: respect, solidarity, and empathy. Alongside this, other values emerge that are more focused on individual development. Responsibility, patience, and courage are mentioned, painting a picture of an individual who is both aware of their duties to others and able to excel.

Environmental concerns, already perceived as a major challenge for the future, surface once again in suggestions for learning. Young people call for more education on environmental issues, highlighting topics such as combating climate change, adopting sustainable lifestyles, and respecting and protecting the environment.

One in ten participants urges schools to place more emphasis on learning interpersonal and teamwork skills, of which communication, collaboration, and mutual understanding are the most frequently mentioned. This desire for an approach to learning that is more focused on interacting with others is reinforced by contributions highlighting the importance of social causes and emotional and behavioral skills.

Schools are seen as places for learning practical life skills that offer benefits in everyday life and in the workplace. Respondents mention topics such as financial management, sex education, and other practical skills that are essential to a fulfilled adult life.

Young people also value the ability to learn cognitive and problem-solving skills. Critical thinking, the cornerstone of this category, is viewed as an essential skill for young people to develop.

Beside these cross-disciplinary skills, traditional academic subjects are not forgotten. Management science, social sciences, humanities, and hard sciences: all have their place in the range of subjects that young people want to learn. However, the way they are taught must be updated and adapted to a constantly changing world to offer young people the tools they need to understand and have an impact on their environment.

Finally, the young participants call for an education that allows them to better understand the world and its mechanisms. Schools must provide the means to help young people better understand how political bodies and systems work, collectively prepare for the future, become well-informed citizens, and understand how society operates.

Overview of the main themes

You will find below a graph in which you can navigate to learn more about the themes brought by the participants. Each theme (also called “cluster”) relates to an idea expressed by participants. There are two types of clusters: macro-clusters, which relate to more general categories, and sub-clusters, which break down the ideas into finer detail and are attached to macro-clusters. The percentages displayed correspond to the number of participants who have written about this theme among all participants who answered the question. For readability, only clusters cited by more than 1% of participants are displayed.

The representation below is dynamic: tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters.

Differences between world regions

The global mirror of education: Values, environmental protection, and emotional education

All over the world, a clear trend is emerging: the importance of personal values and virtues. This is the topic most commonly mentioned by participants, with the notable exception of East Asia and the Pacific, where participants focused instead on knowledge and skills in general.

Environmental protection also emerges as a crucial teaching focus, one that is particularly highly prized in North America, Europe, and Central Asia. This theme is in line with current ecological challenges, reflecting the strong desire of the youth to feel ready to tackle those challenges.

Finally, a unique observation comes from South and East Asia and the Pacific, where emotional skills are frequently mentioned. This underlying trend paves the way for broader thinking on the importance of emotional education within educational systems.

Tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters to compare regions.

Some remarquable answers from the entire world

Woman, 22Zimbabwe
Lire plus
That there is more to life than merely cramming books. It is good to get an education but it is equally good to learn at school how to be a whole/rounded person - someone who excels academically, has emotional intelligence, social capital, and has a good character. Achievements minus character are vanity. This is important because when we are building our desired future, we can then build it from a balanced point of view because we can see life from all angles instead of a narrow/rigid academic mindset. We are then more open-minded.
Man, 22France
Lire plus
The presentation of certain sociological experiences that demonstrate the biases by which society influences us. It has been shown that only a hundred of these experiences can equip people with a real critical spirit. Today's school tells us that it "teaches us to think for ourselves" but it was only after my schooling that I was able to realize the opposite. The school teaches us its point of view, which is often influenced and biased because it is subject to political correctness. Any thought is not welcome there, even if it is constructed.
Non-binary, N/AVenezuela
Lire plus
To trust in instinct, in ourselves, to finance our life as well as our accounts and prioritize mental stability before government ideas in each subject that is integrated into the student plan, as if a single subject could not encompass the importance over the personal ethics and the difference between good and evil, in addition to the laws already imposed by the state (which is actually what you see the most, more than the rest).
Man, 29Ethiopia
Lire plus
With rising population and dwindling resources, our country has to face new problems. To meet the challenges of this fu­ture, we will need knowledge and skills that may contribute to problem-solving capacity not only in the fields of science and technology but also in the fields of human relations and management. Unfortunately, the education system today is decaying more and more instead of re­sponding creatively to the challenges of contemporary predicament. We need to reset our priorities.
Woman, 23India
Lire plus
Our curriculum at school and colleges should not only include subjects and chapters but also include moral lessons, general knowledge, personality development sessions, physical activities, yoga and meditation. These extra subjects will help students take life in a very healthy way so these subjects should also have equal weightage as the other main subjects. Students must be taught how to preserve our natural resources for the upcoming years etc..
Man, N/AMorocco
Lire plus
We must learn many things among that: Knowledge about the environment and climate change, in order to understand how to protect the planet and reduce our environmental impact. Skills in environmental management, such as sustainable planning, water and energy management, and biodiversity management. Knowledge about human rights and social justice, in order to understand how to fight inequalities and promote equality for all.
Man, 23Egypt
Lire plus
We learn the sciences that help us to innovate and think.. I think that the question should be reformulated from what should we learn in school to what should we do... The school is a place for activity, especially in the requirements that children need, and through these activities we can teach them the principles of science technology and thinking.
Man, 17France
Lire plus
Learn imagination and creativity, so little present in middle school and especially in high school, with very (too?) strict methodologies, ultra-framed and lesson-centered assessments, which train students to do only and only what is expected of them directly, without thinking further. Result: when free and creative work is offered, the sheep take fright and take refuge in the most conventional work possible.
Non-binary, N/AUSA
Lire plus
Our history, our social systems and how they work, how to communicate with people, how to problem solve and logically think things through from start to finish, and about different people and cultures outside our own.
Woman, 20Mexico
Lire plus
Not only limit ourselves to what we are taught at school, since they are simply the bases and as you grow and learn at the university you realize that it is nothing compared to real life, that a company is not interested in knowing if you have excellent grades, but rather that you have the skills, that you know and know how to solve the real problems that we are facing.
Woman, 22Brazil
Lire plus
Human rights, respect for others and differences, cooking, self-knowledge, financial education, respecting the planet and its limitations, having safe sex, guidance on which path to follow after completing studies, learning to identify predators, abusers, sexual exploiters, guidance students not to enter into abusive and toxic relationships, with the help of health professionals provided by the school. Values and principles.