At the World Economic Forums’ Summit in Davos in 2007, Queen Rania talked about the importance of profoundly changing the way we educate our next generations. Not only did she speak on the subject of education in the great Plenary Hall, she made it a central topic in two sessions in the very hall where all international decision-makers come together.

In the previous years, the dominant focus in the sessions had been on innovation. How to do it, who failed, who managed, the costs and the gains. But, all of a sudden, the focus had apparently shifted to education. And, the subject had become so important that it warranted centre stage. Had the industries finally realised that innovation was impossible if the talent wasn’t available? And just as importantly, had they finally acknowledged that this very talent has to be nurtured from the early years?

At that time, we at INDEX: Design to Improve Life® had already started our work in the field of education. Our thinking was relatively simple: we wanted to spread the knowledge of how design can be instrumental in creating sustainable solutions to global challenges – so, why not start with kids?

Kids are the centre of many ecosystems and if we can reach them, we can also reach their friends, parents and grandparents as well.

The mission of our education program is to create a talent pool that can feed into both the private and public sectors. We believe this will ensure our entire future society will be aware of the social and green power of design.

This year, a suitcase was exhibited at New York City Design Week. The designers? A class of first-graders –aged six to eight– from Elsinore, Denmark. The suitcase was the kids’ answer to Elsinore’s Design to Improve Life Challenge, which asked the entire city’s school system: How can we help turn refugees into active citizens? The first-graders identified language as the key tool for inclusion and bonding. Their empathy-driven design, the ‘Welcome Suitcase’, is a simple box containing handmade games, folding books and puppets for role-play; all made to help refugee children learn the local language in a fun and interactive way.

The suitcase was just one design among dozens of other fantastic solutions from Elsinore, and after witnessing the incredible results from the Challenge, Elsinore’s decision-makers decided to include some of the kids’ designs into the municipality’s integration policy.

So, if just one local Challenge can produce such amazing results for society, imagine what kind of impact we could have if we implemented similar systems in schools all around the world.

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