Today in the section LA CONTRA of the Barcelona newspaper LA VANGUARDIA, Lluís Amiguet has interviewed Mmantsetsa Marope, Director of Unesco’s International Bureau of Education.  The three journalists who write this section always do very awesome interviews, no doubt, but today’s one is treating about what we agreed (this week) with my new UPC master students on how to focus the course activities with the learning by doing approach.

For this reason, I have translated the interview to share it with them (course in English). But I thought it would be interesting to take advantage of the translation and share it in this blog for all those who consider like me that EDUCATION, despite being something earthly, it has something heavenly in this life.

Age? I want to learn and teach: I am young. I was born in Botswana, an oasis of prosperity in the middle of Africa and a self-made democracy. The school cannot limit itself to providing information, but rather training experiences in order to continue learning throughout life. I collaborate with the Centre Unesco Catalunya

“In countries with good schools, catastrophes don’t last long.”

What would we miss about Unesco if it were to disappear?

To educate today is to adapt and to teach how to adapt to ever more rapid change in ever shorter cycles throughout a long life. At Unesco we help countries and their education systems not to lag behind by adapting to their circumstances the programmes and strategies of those who are ahead.


It is difficult to anticipate, for example, what the industry demands in artificial intelligence and what it will require, but we can give students the mathematical, English and technical foundation so that they can learn quickly all their lives. We design educational programs to provide it.

Instead, technology companies complain that they don’t find those skills.

I talk to these employers often, and what they regret is that they don’t find someone with the educational base to take advantage of their specialization courses.

What do you propose to governments?

Programmers, for example, need a high level of mathematics and some engineering rudiments that allow them to train in business without starting from scratch. But they also require intellectual maturity and the ability to work in a team.

Not all students will want to work in technology companies.

In any field, medicine, architecture, journalism…, artificial intelligence will be necessary. It is already necessary. And to work with it you have to know mathematics, English and technological skills.

Doesn’t that depend on each country?

The skills necessary from school to continue learning are not different in Catalonia or in my country, Botswana. That’s why Unesco is also necessary.

Which countries are educating better?

Those who train their educators not to teach a programme but to teach how to learn.

Name a few.

You will find them in all the rankings, but, in addition to tests and country qualifications, I like to cite the catastrophe test.

Don’t scare me.

It’s very simple. It measures a country’s resilience. Its capacity to adapt and overcome a great disaster, because that competition depends on the quality of its educational system and not only now but for generations. Your school is the key.

For example.

Japan suffers tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes…, but in a very short time it recovers and gets its productive system back on track and so soon the tragedy is behind it.

And that has to do with your schools?

A lot, because it shows that they have taught their students to adapt to adverse conditions until they are able to overcome them as a society. On the other hand, in countries with bad schools any setback takes decades to overcome.

There will be other factors as well.

But they are related to the quality of their education. For example, their social cohesion. In a country that is not divided by inequality, individuals sacrifice more easily for others and make the extra effort required to overcome adversity.

And how does the school influence this?

An education system can educate for integration and to promote diversity in collective effort and teamwork. Or it can encourage segregation.

How do you appreciate it?

If education turns difference into something positive, it will build a more cohesive and prosperous society. On the other hand, if the school discriminates against students – and one can be very subtle about this – by language, ethnicity, the sexual choice of their parents or whether they can afford it or not, it is destroying the cohesion of today and the cohesion of the future.

What, moreover, do you look at when you evaluate the quality of a country’s school?

In its connection with reality. If the school is bad, let’s say that in it human rights will be talked about on the blackboard and that’s it.

What if it’s good?

If it is good, they will form teams and go to the places in the city where those rights are violated, because there is no affordable housing, or there is a lack of citizen security, or there is poverty. Students will talk to those who don’t have those rights and finally come up with solutions.

When we educate, what is not experience is just information.

And we have to move on from the time when the school only provided information. In Singapore, for example, it’s not that you teach chemistry, in the laboratory, it’s that schoolchildren are designing an ecological perfume or insecticide.

That’s going very fast.

Whoever doesn’t go very fast will be far behind. We can no longer talk about creativity in school, but the schoolchildren have to be creating.

Does Finland have a good school because it demands a lot from aspiring teachers?

It is not only necessary to demand of them before making them teachers, but also to support them afterwards with resources. This is how we achieve the social prestige that students perceive and that makes them strive and progress.

Translated with