Three students from News Decoder partner schools offered their thoughts on the future of international schools at a recent meeting of top educators.

When one of the world’s prominent authorities on international schools wanted to hear students’ views on the future of education, they turned to News Decoder.

Three students from News Decoder partner schools, on three different continents, featured prominently in a recent conference of senior educators organized by ISC Research, the leading provider of English-medium K-12 international school data, trends and intelligence.

Varlee Fofana of the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in South Africa, Ioan Pristavu of Transylvania College in Romania and Giavanna Bravo of Greens Farms Academy in the United States offered their thoughts to the virtual conference on how international schools can become more inclusive and better educate young people to become high-performing, open-minded global citizens.

“I think that an internationally-minded school is one that is encouraging the exchange of diverse voices,” Bravo said in a note that was circulated to the global conference earlier this month. “These voices live on through a student body that is encouraging the diverse array of cultural backgrounds, interests, lifestyles, as well as a curriculum that values global mindedness.”

Educators heard News Decoder students at global meeting.

In a video for the conference, Fofana described an internationally-minded school as “a school that provides equal learning opportunities for all students and preserves students’ right to express themselves without any form of indoctrination. Most importantly, a school that holds diversity as a core against prejudice.”

I asked Anne Keeling, ISC Research’s Communications Director, why it was important for the experts to hear student voices at the conference, entitled “Edruptors Conference: Addressing the disruption and transformation of international education.”

“The student voice needs to be heard,” Keeling said. “In schools where students are supported to develop their independent learning, critical thinking and internationally minded skills, student agency can be very powerful, although at times uncomfortable to hear, but always important to listen to.”

Effecting profound change for the better

Both Fofana and Pristavu said examinations as currently required are not the best way to assess students.

“Do you want to come out of school knowing how to take examinations?” Pristavu asked in a video circulated at the conference. “Or do we want to know how to be real humans, how to reach our full potential, which many of us won’t ever do in our lifetimes?”

Fofana said: “I think examinations are not an effective way of assessing students because those exams only tell you one aspect of them. I have seen a lot of people who struggle with their GPAs (grade point averages) but do not struggle with their aspirations and potential. To me, the future pathways of all students should be assessed by their potentials to make difference in their societies.”

“Such views and calls for action can effect profound change for the better,” Keeling said. “The student and alumni voices we heard at the ISC Research Edruptors Conference reflected this and played a critical part in the key messages for international schools and educators around the world.”

Both Bravo and Pristavu, who recently graduated, were News Decoder Student Ambassadors at their schools this year, and Fofana will be Student Ambassador at ALA in the next academic year.

(Nelson Graves is the founder of News Decoder.)

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Giavanna Bravo of Greens Farms Academy in the U.S. was one of three News Decoder students who offered their thoughts to the educators conference.

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