Education can be found in the mission statement and core activities of every association, regardless of its field of operation. But what happens when knowledge exchange is not only a mission, but a sole purpose for the organisation’s existence, and how such a body thrives in a world wrapped in a pandemic?
‘Virtual Educa’ was established in 2001 under the auspices of the Organization of the American States (OAS), with the goal of boosting innovation in education to favour social transformation and sustainable development, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. The critical factor for development in the 21st century is not education but knowledge, know-how, and the acquisition of soft skills and competencies necessary to adapt in a rapidly transforming society. Education and training aimed at development needs to be relevant, productive, solve problems, generate value, and a sustainable meaningful way of life for all.
‘Virtual Educa’ is responding to this need in the societies to foster human development with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to face, manage, solve and innovate current and future world challenges, not yet envisioned. Based on the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, ‘Virtual Educa’ aims and goals are to bridge the gap between a classic concept of education and the life-long learning process required by technology-based 21st century global societies.
With the global pandemic speeding up contemporary education with rapid use of technology and new demands posed on the whole system, from education providers to students, ‘Virtual Educa’ created a special virtual event right before the new school year began. With minimal preparation time, a three-day event was put together with over 200 hours of content, translated into three languages with select sessions including sign language interpretation. The event attracted over 84 thousand registrants from over 50 countries around the globe.
‘Virtual Educa’ is a perfect example of an association living its mission and successfully adapting to the difficulties that the pandemic has posed. While the organisation had not planned for this event or had a previous experience to create such an engagement online, it had a strong board that saw the opportunity in the situation. ‘Virtual Educa’ has proven that being flexible and solving challenges not yet envisioned can work with the necessary knowledge and skills to adapt.
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