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Shaping the Future: An Overview of the UWC International Congress 2024

Shaping the Future: An Overview of the UWC International Congress 2024
Aylin, grade12 (Bulgaria)

The next UWC International Congress, which takes place once every six years*, will be held in Phuket, Thailand, from 29 February to 2 March 2024. As the culmination of the UWC movement's 60th anniversary festivities, this event will be our first-ever hybrid Congress, allowing for even more participation from the whole UWC community.  

The UWC International Congress 2024, themed "Education as a Force," will bring together UWC's educational and governance leaders, as well as partners, supporters, and representatives of all UWC stakeholder groups, for a discussion about the future of education and to transform our educational model to meet the greatest demands of our time. We will re-energize our mission to make education a force to unite people, nations, and cultures for peace and a sustainable future through a combination of keynote presentations, panel discussions, workshops, and impact talks. As the head of UWC Thailand shared with us: “I also think it's really interesting because even though one of the first colleges and schools is UWC Southeast Asia in Singapore, we don't typically talk as much about the Asian UWCs, like the narrative globally can be a bit eurocentric, you know, focused on the U. S. or Canada.  And Asia is a huge and important part of the world.”. 


The programme will be conducted along five thematic tracks:

● Curriculum, Teaching & Learning

Young change-makers are supported by UWC schools and institutions, which promote global citizenship. Students gain the skills through education to deal with urgent global issues, particularly those related to sustainability and peace. The curriculum promotes a sense of power through the combination of academics, experiential learning, and student-led projects. A constant effort is made to improve teaching and staff capabilities to support students' learning journeys to complement this educational style.

● Admissions

UWC actively seeks out diverse international students, particularly through national committees that choose students between the ages of 16 and 18 for the IBDP/IBCP. Volunteer-run national committees use certain criteria with a focus on smooth annual operations, including student onboarding, growth, selection, and nomination. Continuous process improvement and alignment between national committees and UWC colleges are essential to guarantee a smooth admissions cycle.

● Wellbeing

Researchers, including Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (writers of the Harvard-UWC Impact Study), have discovered recently that the demanding curriculum at UWC can stress students, possibly resulting in mental health issues. The youth mental health issue has been increased by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the demanding IBDP has been a significant cause of stress. Many UWC students need extra help in order to adjust to new situations and the English language. Youth protection is a growing concern today. There is an urgent need to review the dominant educational ideas at UWC in order to secure students' general well-being in the twenty-first century.

● Financial Sustainability

Through need-based scholarships, UWC has a mindful emphasis on diversity, especially for underprivileged students, including refugees. However, rising worldwide education expenses present a threat to the financial sustainability of UWC and its scholarship program. There is a chance for a long-lasting UWC movement by investigating a fresh, comprehensive finance plan that involves alumni, donors, national committees, schools, and UWC International.

● Educational Leadership & Partnerships

The unique educational model and innovative founders of UWC were instrumental in developing the International Baccalaureate. Governments and organisations have worked with UWC in the past to reform education and promote peace. Amala is one of the UWCx projects that has grown to include groups that assist communities that are underserved. To sustain its pioneering position, UWC needs to strengthen its partnerships with governments, multilateral organisations, funders, and alumni.


The UWC International Congress 2024 will be primarily a chance for collaboration for those involved in education. Those who are invited to participate will include, but not be limited to: 

  • Representatives from UWC schools (teachers, staff, and students)

  • Representatives of the UWC National Committee

  • The UWC International Board, Council, and Office are the governing entities of UWC

  • The entire UWC community Friends of UWC, donors, and partners.


There will be various opportunities for in-person and online participation because the Congress is hybrid in nature. 


Full delegates will attend the Congress in person from 29 February to 2 March, as well as the pre-Congress sessions online from October 2023 to February 2024. 

Online participation for full delegates will be available for both the Congress (29 February–2 March) and the pre-Congress sessions (October 2023–February 2024). As much as in-person delegates, online delegates are expected to commit to all sessions and actively participate in and contribute to the conversations. 

Anyone may participate in the public plenary sessions held online during both the pre-Congress and the Congress, pre-registration is not required and/or closed.


* The last UWC International Congress was held in Trieste, Italy, in October 2016. Disruptions caused by COVID-19 forced us to reschedule the next Congress for 2024.


In conclusion, the 2024 UWC International Congress, with its subject of "Education as a Force," will be a turning point for the UWC community. Focused on cooperation and creativity, the Congress wants to reexamine education as a potent tool for world peace, harmony, and sustainability. It aims to mould the UWC movement into one that is more influential and inclusive through a variety of themed tracks. Because of the Congress's hybrid structure, UWC schools, national committees, the International Board, the Council, funders, partners, and friends are all encouraged to actively participate. Working together, we hope to develop a revolutionary educational environment that embodies our common dedication to constructive change.