Panel D.09 — Translating the UNESCO “new social contract for education” into different realities

Convenors Rita Locatelli (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italy); Giuseppina Rita Jose Mangione (INDIRE)

Keywords New social contract; Community educational pact; Common goods; Futures of education


In its global report published in 2021, the UNESCO International Commission on the Futures of Education invited the international community to forge a “new social contract for education” in order to heal past injustices and build a more equitable and sustainable planet. The need to re-establish a new social contract for education is based on the acknowledgement that the social contract for education of the 19th and 20th centuries should be revised. Such “new social contract” should involve all education stakeholders, with the aim of defining how the education system should be organized and for what purpose, and be governed by two basic principles, namely assuring the right to quality education throughout life and strengthening education as a public endeavour and a common good (UNESCO, 2021). In particular, the concept of education as a common good suggests a paradigm shift from a transactional to a relational model of the social contract, based on the belief that educational change can only be achieved together and that all actors must take responsibility for this change. This implies strengthening social dialogue and favouring more horizontal collaboration with the aim to introduce and extend practices capable of generating new forms of social cooperation and coexistence (Locatelli, 2023; Toukan, 2023).

In this panel, we are interested in discussing and confronting different understandings of the “new social contract for education” and to shed light on the instances of cooperation among communities and education systems around the world, aimed at renewing the more traditional organisation of learning. In Italy, these experiences, commonly referred to as “Community or territorial education pacts”, are increasingly widespread and make it possible to initiate processes of effective participation, and to rethink the curricula, lesson times, teaching methods, school environments and the model of educational governance itself (Chipa et al., 2023; Bartolini et al., 2022).

In line with the call for public dialogue promoted in the Futures of Education report, we welcome theoretical and empirical contributions aimed at exploring the different interpretations and translations of a “new social contract for education” in the following areas:

– Emerging forms and visions of schooling which emphasize a relational approach in the renewal of the educational pact or contract (whole school approach; schools as civic centres; schools as learning hubs; schools as urban regenerators; community schools; etc.).

– Anticipatory practices or experiences aimed at identifying new ways of organizing learning in the areas of pedagogy, curriculum, teaching, schooling or education systems’ organization.

– Administrative, legislative tools and policy frameworks favouring the transformation of day-to-day educational practices, institutions and systems with the aim of sustaining extended educational alliances.

– Participatory models of educational governance: tensions and opportunities.


Guidelines and abstracts submission