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  • Publication: UNESCO
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Organizations mentioned: AI Government Cloud Cluster (Singapore), Cyberspace Administration of China, European Union, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
  • Publication Authors: UNESCO
  • Technical background required: Medium
  • Estimated read time (original text): 120 minutes
  • Sentiment score: 50%, Neutral


UNESCO has released its first global guidance on the use of generative AI (GenAI) in education, addressing the rapid emergence of these tools and the lack of national regulations in most countries. The guidance aims to support countries in implementing immediate actions, planning long-term policies, and developing human capacity to ensure a human-centred approach to GenAI technologies.

The guidance assesses potential risks posed by GenAI to core humanistic values, such as human agency, inclusion, equity, gender equality, and linguistic and cultural diversity. It proposes key steps for governmental agencies to regulate the use of GenAI tools, including mandating data privacy protection and considering age limits for their use. The guidance also outlines requirements for GenAI providers to enable the ethical and effective use of these tools in education.

UNESCO emphasizes the need for educational institutions to validate GenAI systems based on their ethical and pedagogical appropriateness. The international community is called upon to reflect on the long-term implications of GenAI for knowledge, teaching, learning, and assessment. By providing this guidance, UNESCO aims to promote a human-centred vision for the use of GenAI in education while ensuring the protection of users’ data privacy and the preparedness of educational institutions to adapt to these rapidly evolving technologies.


  • The publication analyzes the implications of GenAI on education, focusing on its ability to replicate higher-order thinking and automate basic writing and artwork creation.
  • It includes an assessment of potential risks posed by GenAI to human agency, inclusion, equity, gender equality, and linguistic and cultural diversities.
  • The methodology involves proposing frameworks and concrete examples for policy formulation, instructional design, and ethical uses of GenAI in education.

Key Findings:

  • GenAI has significantly impacted information processing and knowledge production, mimicking human capabilities and becoming integral to daily life.
  • GenAI’s ability to automate content creation forces a reevaluation of educational methods and learning assessment, raising concerns about its use in cheating and the need for ethical, transparent use in education.
  • Issues like the use of content without consent, unexplainable AI models, and the potential for AI-generated content to pollute the internet highlight the need for ethical considerations in GenAI deployment.
  • Despite its rapid information processing ability, GenAI’s role as an unreliable information source is acknowledged, with limited evidence of its effectiveness in accessing validated and up-to-date information.
  • Ethical design and rigorous validation of GenAI are crucial, focusing on its impact on students, teachers, and educational relationships.


  • Develop and implement key steps for governmental agencies to regulate the use of GenAI in education, ensuring GenAI tools do no harm and are educationally effective.
  • Ensure GenAI systems used in education are monitored for ethical risks, pedagogical appropriateness, and their impact on educational relationships.
  • Build validation mechanisms to test GenAI systems for biases and ensure they are trained on data representative of diverse populations.
  • Before institutional adoption of GenAI tools, confirm that they are aligned with sound pedagogical principles and appropriate for the target learners’ ages and abilities.
  • Urgently develop AI curricula and literacy programs that cover both human and technological dimensions of AI, understanding its broad workings and specific impacts.

Thinking critically


  • With GenAI’s dependence on massive data and computing power, its development and control remain confined to a few large tech companies and economies, potentially leaving many countries, especially in the Global South, at a disadvantage.
  • The rapid development of GenAI outpaces the creation and adaptation of regulatory frameworks, creating challenges in data privacy, intellectual property rights, and ethical use.
  • The incorporation of GenAI in educational contexts may fundamentally alter how learning is structured, assessed, and validated.

Alternative Perspectives:

  • As the systems of GenAI are trained on existing online data, their outputs might not always reflect accurate or unbiased information, leading to potential misinformation in educational materials
  • The increasing use of GenAI in education might reduce direct human interaction, which is crucial for social-emotional learning and development.
  • While GenAI offers significant advancements, focusing too heavily on its integration into education might overshadow the importance of human-led teaching and learning processes.

AI Predictions:

  • GenAI will likely lead to more personalized and adaptive learning experiences. As AI technologies evolve, they could offer tailored educational content and assessments based on individual student needs and learning styles.
  • The growing presence of GenAI in education will necessitate a heightened focus on AI literacy among students and educators.
  • GenAI will potentially enable new forms of creative collaboration between humans and AI. It could assist in the generation of ideas and content, fostering creativity and innovation in educational and research settings.


  • Generative AI (GenAI): An AI technology that creates new content in various formats like text, images, videos, and music in response to natural-language prompts, using data from webpages, social media, and other online media.
  • Machine Learning (ML): A subset of AI technologies that use algorithms to improve performance continuously and automatically from data, including artificial neural networks (ANNs).
  • Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs): AI algorithms inspired by the human brain’s synaptic connections, used in many AI applications including facial recognition and generative AI.
  • Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs): A class of AI algorithms used in generative AI, particularly for image generation, involving two parts: a generator that creates content and a discriminator that evaluates it.
  • Large Language Models (LLMs): AI models, like GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), trained on vast amounts of text data to perform natural-language processing tasks.
  • AI architectures: The structural design of AI systems, including how various components like neural networks and algorithms are organized and integrated.
  • Prompt-engineering: The process of designing and refining inputs to generative AI systems to produce outputs that align closely with the user’s intent.
  • Data poverty: A situation where countries or individuals lack access to sufficient data, impacting their ability to participate in and benefit from data-driven technologies like AI.
  • Hallucination: In the context of AI, refers to the phenomenon where generative models produce outputs that are not grounded in reality, often leading to incorrect or nonsensical results.
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): A hypothetical AI that surpasses human intelligence, capable of understanding, learning, and applying knowledge in a wide range of contexts.
  • Knowledge-based AI: AI systems that operate based on predefined rules and logic, also known as symbolic or rule-based AI.
  • Data-based AI: AI systems, typically under the umbrella of machine learning, that learn and adapt based on the analysis of large datasets.
  • Deepfakes: Artificially created or manipulated content, often videos or images, that are made using advanced AI techniques to appear authentic.

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