Dr. Sobhi Tawil is the Director of the Future of Learning and Innovation team at UNESCO where he currently leads the Futures of Education initiative, a project that, looking towards 2050, envisions possible futures in which education shapes a better world. A prominent figure within Unesco, he has taken different roles within the organisation since 2002, always in the field of education.
A PhD in Education and Development from Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, Dr. Tawil brings about 30 years of experience in teaching, education policy analysis, research and program management.
He has worked with several institutions and organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies (Geneva), as well as the Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training (NORRAG).
As a renowned academic, he is a widely published researcher on issues of education policy in relation to identity-based conflict, social cohesion, and citizenship. He is, for example, the author of books like ‘Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion’ (2004); ‘Education au Maroc: analyse du secteur’ (2010) and the technical report ‘Educational Destruction and Reconstruction in Disrupted Societies: Final report and case studies’ (1997), among others.
His latest work is a paper in the field of large-scale learning assessments. His publication, 'The Promise of Large-Scale Learning Assessments: Acknowledging Limits to Unlock Opportunities,' addresses the more contentious aspects of these standardised assessments.
Dr. Sobhi Tawil is a renowned education professional with a distinguished career spanning several decades. He began his journey in the field of education in 1989 as a Lecturer in Sociology at the International Institute for Higher Education in Morocco (IIHEM), where he laid the foundation for his lifelong commitment to educational excellence. During his one-year tenure in Rabat, Morocco, he honed his teaching and academic skills.
In 1990, Dr. Tawil transitioned to Geneva, Switzerland, where he served as the Academic Director at EP Educational Programs for five years. This role allowed him to shape educational initiatives and policies. From 1996 to 1998, Dr. Tawil continued to expand his influence in Geneva, working as a Programme Officer at the Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training (NORRAG).
In 1999, he took on a pivotal role as the Head of the Exploring Humanitarian Law project at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Switzerland. His two-year commitment to this humanitarian initiative underscored his dedication to using education as a vehicle for promoting understanding and peace.
From 1999 to 2002, Dr. Tawil served as an Associate Researcher/Lecturer at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, and in 2002, he stepped into the role of Head of Capacity Building Programme at a critical juncture of his career, located once again in Geneva, Switzerland. This position allowed him to contribute significantly to capacity building in education.
His next chapter began in 2005 when Dr. Tawil took on the role of Head of Education in Rabat, Morocco, a position he held for five years. During this tenure, he worked to enhance the quality of education in Morocco.
Following this, Dr. Tawil returned to Geneva, Switzerland, where he worked as Chief of Education Policy Analysis and Strategies at UNESCO from September to December 2010. This marked his first involvement with UNESCO.
Dr. Tawil's contributions to UNESCO commenced in January 2011 when he assumed the role of Chief, Education Research and Foresight. Over the next five years, he played a pivotal role in shaping the organisation's educational policies and strategies, drawing from his wealth of experience in the field.
In January 2016, he took on the role of Chief, Education 2030 Partnerships and Research at UNESCO, where he continued to make substantial contributions to global education initiatives. His expertise in forging partnerships and conducting research helped UNESCO further its mission to promote quality education worldwide. From January 2019 to June 2020, Dr. Tawil served as the Head of Education Research and Foresight at UNESCO.
His latest position, Director of the Future of Learning and Innovation at UNESCO, which he assumed in July 2020, represents the pinnacle of his career. In this role, Dr. Tawil is at the forefront of shaping the future of education, driving innovation and foresight to address the evolving needs of learners in a rapidly changing world.
Dr. Sobhi Tawil has been instrumental in the development of UNESCO's logo, a symbol of his enduring commitment to education and his significant impact on the organisation's global initiatives. His journey from a young lecturer to a Director at UNESCO reflects a lifelong dedication to improving education worldwide, making him a true visionary in the field.
Director Future of Learning and Innovation
Jul 2020 - Present
Head, Education Research and Foresight
Jan 2019 - Jun 2020
Chief, Education 2030 Partnerships and Research
Jan 2016 - Dec 2018
Chief, Education Research and Foresight
Jan 2011 - Dec 2015
Chief, Education Policy Analysis and Strategies
Sep 2010 - Dec 2010
Head of Education
Apr 2005 - Aug 2010
Head of Capacity Building Programme
Feb 2002 - Apr 2005
Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies
1999 - 2002
Head of Exploring Humanitarian Law project
International Committee of the Red Cross
1999 - 2001
Network for international policies and cooperation in education and training (NORRAG)
1996 - 1998
EP Educational Programs
1990 - 1995
Lecturer in Sociology
International Institute for Higher Education in Morocco IIHEM
1989 - 1990
Here are some of the books authored by Dr. Sobhi Tawil:
Education, Conflict and Social Cohesion (2004)
Annotation First-place winner of the Society for Education Studies' 2005 book prize, Education and Conflict is a critical review of education in an international context. Based on the author's extensive research and experience of education in several areas affected by conflict, the book explores the relationship between schooling and social conflict and looks at conflict internal to schools. It posits a direct link between the ethos of a school and the attitudes of future citizens towards 'others'. It also looks at the nature and purpose of peace education and war education, and addresses the role of gender and masculinity.
Education au Maroc: analyse du secteur (Education in Morocco: Industry Analysis)
"Education in Morocco: Industry Analysis" explores the challenges and opportunities within Morocco's education system. Despite development efforts, Morocco's social development indicators lag behind its income level peers, largely due to the underdevelopment of education. The National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), initiated in 2005, plays a central role in addressing these issues through holistic human development approaches, including education and training system reforms. The book delves into the complex landscape of education in Morocco and its impact on the country's overall development.
The Redesign of Pedagogy in Algeria: Challenges and Issues of a Changing Society
The book delves into the complex interplay between language, power, and identity in the context of Algeria's history and education system. It explores how Algeria's colonial past, particularly French colonisation, has deeply influenced the linguistic landscape of the country. After gaining independence in 1962, Algeria embarked on Arabisation efforts to create a national identity, but this had significant consequences, including the negation of cultural and linguistic diversity. The article critiques the exclusive use of Classical Arabic in education, suggesting that a more multilingual approach could be progressive and beneficial for the country, allowing for greater engagement with international discourses and trends, particularly through the use of languages like French.
Education, diversity and social cohesion in the Western Mediterranean
The project "Education, Diversity and Social Cohesion in the Western Mediterranean" was launched jointly by two UNESCO agencies and ISESCO to shed new light on the role of national education systems in promoting respect for diversity and strengthening social cohesion and to initiate avenues for cooperation.
Following are some of the articles Dr. Tawil has written:
International Humanitarian Law and Basic Education
This article examines humanitarian law education and places it in relation to other educational initiatives, broadly categorised under terms like "Peace Education" in general, or "Human Rights Education" and "Civic Education" in particular. It highlights the central role of international humanitarian law in shaping basic education policies. The author also introduces the ICRC's project, "Exploring Humanitarian Law," which develops educational materials on this subject intended for youth aged 13 to 18. One of the goals of this project is to strengthen provisions of international humanitarian law regarding the right to education during armed conflicts.
Recognition and Awards
Future of Learning and Innovation Team | UNESCO Education
Articles by Sobhi Tawil | Google Scholar
Education for 'global citizenship': a framework for discussion | UNESCO Digital Library
Revisiting Learning: The Treasure WiThin | UNESCO.org
Digital connectivity for Education - challenges and opportunities | Global Education Summit, UNESCO