How can Artificial Intelligence help reach the SDG for education

The Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) “Quality Education” of the United Nations focuses on inclusive, quality education for all, including deprived children in rural areas, vulnerable populations, and indigenous children as well as promoting lifelong learning opportunities.

The goal aims at providing equitable access to affordable and quality education at all levels, removing gender and wealth disparities. So how can data transform into education policy so that children, everywhere, in the most disadvantaged communities, can realize their right to education? How to leverage the latest technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to achieve the goal of quality education?

In the last few years, constant disruptions have moved AI from behind the scenes of academic research to public discussions. It is now being recognized as a powerful tool globally. The United Nations has identified AI as a tool to help achieve the development goals. Intelligent, personalised and adaptive learning systems are increasingly being developed for deployment in schools and universities around the world. AI technologies are increasingly being used to facilitate the management and delivery of education. "OU analyse" is an AI application designed by the United Kingdom's Open University to predict student outcomes and identify students at risk of failing by analyzing big data. Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) such as Alef (UAE), Squirrel AI (China), and Byjus (India) are being used to provide step-by-step tutorials, individualized for each student through topics based on the student's strengths and weaknesses. Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) are two related innovations that have been applied in educational contexts to make learning more engaging and enhance the effectiveness and attractiveness of teaching and learning for students in real-life scenarios.

UNESCO’s suggestions to innovate and utilize AI for the common good in education stir a discussion about the potential of AI in reducing educational inequality sustainably. An AI-driven e-portfolio can be used to collate academic assessments and record extracurricular activities throughout a student’s life. AI-enabled lifelong learning products such as a mentor or a learning companion that could accompany learners to provide them with continuous support, building on the individual student’s interests and goals. A dashboard based on individual interests, strengths, and goals throughout the student’s time in educational settings can provide a personalized learning experience and guidance to pursue activities that interest them. 

If we want to utilize the full potential of AI to support education for sustainable development, all of the possible benefits of the tools need to be leveraged. The use of AI in education shines a light on the issue of pedagogy, accessibility, sustainability, and the core foundations of education which need to be reviewed and reshaped to accelerate the progress towards the achievement of SDG 4. 

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