The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that, despite the best laid plans, the truth is that the future likes to surprise us. The scramble to close schools and shift to online education as COVID-19 spread across the globe was a natural reaction to a crisis, and there are innumerable examples of individuals going above and beyond to ensure the continuity of education even in the most remote regions.

But it was also a warning. As the pandemic (hopefully) moves into the background, we are still faced with a future in which shocks and surprises – whether due to increasing numbers of extreme weather events, disruptive technology, or other sources, including new pandemics – are only expected to increase. Preparing for both expected and unexpected futures is no longer an optional “nice to have”. It allows us to act now to future-proof our education systems, and stress test them against potential shocks.

Trends Shaping Education 2022 is the sixth edition in a series designed to support long-term strategic thinking in education. It provides an overview of key economic, social, demographic and technological trends and raises pertinent questions about their impact on education. This book fills an important need: decision makers and practitioners in education often have only anecdotal or local information on the megatrends that play out in their context; too often they do not have solid facts in front of them, especially about trends.

The first edition of this book was published in 2008. This edition features new chapters on knowledge and power, identity and well-being and our changing nature. Each chapter starts with a spotlight on the disruption from COVID-19 before turning to the trends and potential implications for education. Each ends with a push to the medium-term future 10-15 years from now, linking to the OECD Scenarios for the Futures of Schooling and suggesting surprises and shocks that could disrupt our planning and, indeed, the trends themselves. As with the 2019 edition, digital technology is incorporated across all the chapters, just as it is now thoroughly embedded in our daily life.

The process of identifying and compiling relevant trends and data on such disparate subjects is necessarily collaborative, and this volume benefits enormously from the support and suggestions of a number of different individuals and institutions. The authors thank the Flemish Ministry of Education for consistently supporting this work since its inception. We would also like to thank the diverse set of multi-disciplinary experts who gave their time and insights in a series of virtual meetings: Arnstein Aassve, Miquel Angel Alegre, Beatrice Avalos, Jeroen Backs, Francisco Benavides, Marius Busemeyer, Queralt Capsada-Munsech, Eliana Chamizo, Kai-ming Cheng, Andreas Dammertz, Catrin Finkenauer, Roubini Gropas, Martin Henry, Tommi Himberg, Edith Hooge, Maciej Jacubowski, Siv Lindstrøm, Tatiana Matthiesen, Raya Muttarak, Amy Orben, Anu Realo, Dominic Regester, Claudia Sarrico, Sebastian Sattler, Tom Schuller, Cecilia Tacoli, Klaus Teichmann, Henno Theisens, Dirk Van Damme, Maarten Vollenbroek, Kristen Weatherby, Malak Zaalouk and Ainara Zubillaga.

We would also like to acknowledge the following OECD Directorates, Units and partner Agencies who generously shared their expertise with us: Centre for Skills; Development; Economics; Employment, Labour, and Social Affairs; Environment; Public Governance; Science, Technology, and Innovation; Trade and Agriculture; the International Energy Agency; the Secretary-General’s Foresight Unit and the Centre for Well-Being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity. Thank you colleagues for your time and advice.

The authors would also like to thank the many members of our Education and Skills Directorate who contributed their expert analysis, ideas and fresh eyes throughout the process. Your time and assistance is invaluable to us. We also thank Andreas Schleicher, Director, and Tia Loukkola, Head of CERI, for their comments on the draft. The CERI Governing Board additionally provided encouragement, ideas and feedback throughout the process, and we are grateful for their guidance. Thank you.

Within the OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI), this publication was written by Tracey Burns, Marc Fuster, Marta Bertanzetti, Ilayda Takil, Catharina Gress-Wright and Divya Sharma with assistance from Eri Tsuruha. Leonora Lynch-Stein, Sophie Limoges and Della Shin contributed to the final stages of preparation for publication.

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