UNESCO Issues Guidance on GenAI within Education
Faced with the rapid proliferation of generative AI tools, there has never been a greater need for proper regulation and policy to govern its use and deployment, particularly within schools. UNESCO's new guidance aims to address this.
9 October 2023
Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) tools have far-reaching implications for education and research. Yet the education sector today is largely unprepared for the ethical and pedagogical integration of these powerful and rapidly evolving technologies.
A recent UNESCO global survey of over 450 schools and universities showed that less than 10% of them had policies or formal guidance on the use of GenAI applications, largely due to the absence of national regulations. And only seven countries have reported that they had developed or were developing training programmes on AI for teachers.
That is why UNESCO has developed and released the first-ever global Guidance for Generative AI in Education and Research to support countries amidst the rapid emergence of GenAI technologies.
The new guidance, launched yesterday during UNESCO’s flagship event Digital Learning Week in Paris, calls on countries to implement appropriate regulations, policies, and human capacity development, for ensuring a human-centred vision of GenAI for education and research.
What the guidance is proposing
The guidance presents an assessment of potential risks GenAI could pose to core humanistic values. It offers concrete recommendations for policy-makers and institutions on how the uses of these tools can be designed to protect human agency and genuinely benefit students, teachers and researchers.
The guidance proposes seven key steps for governmental agencies to regulate the use of GenAI in education:
Endorse international or regional General Data Protection Regulations or develop national ones. The training of GenAI models has involved collecting and processing online data from citizens across many countries. The use of data and content without consent is further challenging the issue of data protection.
Adopt/revise and fund national strategies on AI. Regulating generative AI must be part and parcel of broader national AI strategies that can ensure safe and equitable use of AI across development sectors, including in education.
Solidify and implement specific regulations on the ethics of AI. In order to address the ethical dimensions posed by the use of AI, specific regulations are required.
Adjust or enforce existing copyright laws to regulate AI-generated content: The increasingly pervasive use of GenAI has introduced new challenges for copyright, both concerning the copyrighted content or work that models are trained on, as well as the status of the ‘non-human’ knowledge outputs they produce.
Elaborate regulatory frameworks on generative AI: The rapid pace of development of AI technologies is forcing national and local governance agencies to speed up their renewal of regulations.
Build capacity for proper use of GenAI in education and research: Schools and other educational institutions need to develop capacities to understand the potential benefits and risks of GenAI tools.
Reflect on the long-term implications of GenAI for education and research: The impact and the implications of GenAI for knowledge creation, transmission and validation – for teaching and learning, for curriculum design and assessment, and for research and copyright.
A human-centred vision for digital learning and AI
The guidance is anchored in a humanistic approach to education that promotes human agency, inclusion, equity, gender equality, cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as plural opinions and expressions. In line with UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and the Beijing Consensus on Artificial Intelligence in Education, it also responds to the flagship report, Reimagining our futures together: A new social contract for education which calls to redefine the relationship between humans and technology.
UNESCO is committed to steering technology in education, guided by the principles of inclusion, equity, quality and accessibility. The latest Global Education Monitoring Report on technology in education highlighted the lack of appropriate governance and regulation. UNESCO is urging countries to set their own terms for the way technology is designed and used in education so that it never replaces in-person, teacher-led instruction, and supports the shared objective of quality education for all.