Cape Town hosts global conference on navigating AI and the future of education

The British Council’s Schools Now! 2024 global conference was held over three days in Cape Town this week. Picture: Supplied

The British Council’s Schools Now! 2024 global conference was held over three days in Cape Town this week. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 2, 2024


The way of the future is artificial intelligence (AI) in education, and that is why 1 000 school leaders from across the globe met virtually and on site at the British Council’s Schools Now! 2024 global conference that was held over three days in Cape Town.

Due to the rise of AI, the classroom in sub-Saharan Africa is rapidly evolving and educators are having to adapt new ways of working to foster important skills such as critical thinking.

The leaders, who hailed from sub-Saharan Africa to Ireland, shared a platform to foster, collaborate and share their experiences and insights at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town.

This year’s theme was “Enriching your curriculum” and how educators can navigate and rise to the world of AI.

The British Council’s Schools Now ! 2024 Global conference which was held over three days in Cape Town this week.supplied image

The themes included digital learning, leadership, well-being, and safeguarding, adding to a rich curriculum.

Through a series of engaging keynote sessions, workshops, and panel discussions, delegates explored teaching approaches, curriculum strategies, and the integration of technology in education.

Martin Lowder, head of Global Exams Services of the British Council, shared his experience and the importance of the world sharing their knowledge.

“The spirit of Schools Now! is to establish global connections within the educational community, exploring insights and innovations in international education.

“By addressing emerging themes, we aim to empower educators to navigate the complexities of the shifting education landscape and drive positive outcomes for students.”

George Barrett, British Council South Africa country director, said the British Council Partner Schools programme supported more than 40 partner schools in South Africa and 785 in sub-Saharan Africa to deliver UK International School Qualifications on behalf of UK awarding bodies.

“Our educational support enables schools to enhance the learning experience for students, improving educational outcomes and giving young people in the region access to international opportunities,” he explained.

The keynote session was opened by Victoria Pendry, CEO of the Curriculum Foundation, aimed at empowering schools to develop, monitor and evaluate an enriched curriculum.

Pendry highlighted the rapidly changing world.

“If learners are to develop resilience, creativity and the essential skills of collaboration, the curriculum must be ambitious and enriched with local and global narratives that excite imaginations and inspire curiosity,” she said.

Her presentation explored the interconnected nature of digital learning, leadership, well-being, and safeguarding as a foundation for quality and equitable education and the curriculum beyond the classroom.

Distinguished speakers also included Dr Funke Baffour-Awuah, head of well-being division and child protection lead at the Al Rayan International School in Ghana, Kathleen O’Hare, British Council Education consultant, and many others.

“By intentionally incorporating well-being into the curriculum, schools can create a holistic learning environment that supports the mental, emotional, and physical health of students,” said Baffour-Awuah, who focused on the curriculum.

An expert panel on “AI in Education” comprising Kudzayi Tarisayi, senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University; Reham Ali, director of Middle and High School Education, Nermien Ismail International Schools, Egypt; and Jo Parkes, deputy head Academic from British Council School in Madrid, discussed valuable tips into how schools can ensure students are prepared for future needs dictated through the use of AI.

A key focus of the conference was safeguarding, recognising the importance of school community well-being and safety within the learning environment.

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