IRIS: Design education for a better future

by João Candeias

Published Jul 07, 2022

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We're back with Voices, and this time we've invited our partners from IRIS to discuss how education can be the spark that drives change.


For a change to happen, however, many things need to switch. Towards that change, IRIS supports social entrepreneurs in developing their ideas and projects that lead to social, economic, and cultural improvements in the community. It also supports school programs that encourage the growth of ideas that help solve world problems.

In this article, you get a glimpse of how redesigning the education system could make children aware of the world's challenges, and prepare them to develop ideas and solutions from a young age. This would foster a growth mindset and problem-solving skills that could lead to more social innovation projects and the good of us all.

The earlier children learn, the better? Enjoy!

"We are missing the opportunity to prepare future generations to deal with the most wicked problems of our times."

Liliana Ribeiro:

Nowadays, we are facing hard times, where social and environmental problems are featured on all agendas, news, and priorities, across sectors.

Recent challenges like the pandemic, the war, the refugee crisis, or the world population having unmet basic needs are concerning the world. As the world, especially adults, are focusing their attention on possible solutions to face these issues, we are missing the opportunity to prepare future generations to deal with the most wicked problems of our times. That is why children of today should be prepared to create a better world.

How can we do that?

  1. Creating experiences that promote the connection between children and the world’s most pressing challenges, as access to information, can help them to better understand the emergent social and environmental challenges.
  2. Promoting their creativity and entrepreneurship ability in order to give them the confidence to test new ideas, and create a positive impact.
  3. Involving families and schools in this process, helping them with tools, ideas, and information that can be used to promote children’s active citizenship.
  4. Developing educational programs that can help children to understand societal challenges and explore their creative thinking about the world’s problems.
  5. Helping children to share their ideas and achievements with the world.

The best people to solve important challenges are the ones who are involved in them. Unfortunately, there are so many children facing serious social problems. That is why it is important to listen to their expectations, give them hope, and develop strategies to help them contribute to designing a better world. However, this won’t be possible without designing a new education system for a better future, with a strategic approach based on access to information, tools, and new experiences for our children.

In Portugal, there is a pilot project promoted by a social innovation incubator, that guides children through this challenging journey of creating a better world. The Change the World project ( helps children, families, and schools to promote active citizenship and to develop new ideas to create a better world.

Children should be prepared to create a better world.

And we have the task of preparing them.