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Governments must quickly regulate Generative AI in schools, suggests UNESCO 



As the world is gradually adapting to new-age technologies, UNESCO recently  published its first guidance on use of Generative AI (GenAI) for education, requesting governmental agencies to regulate the use of the technology, including protection of data privacy and putting an age limit for users. The guidance was released during the first ever Digital Learning Week, a flagship event of UNESCO.

UNESCO’s guidance, the first attempt to create a global standard, suggests immediate steps that can be taken to ensure a human-centric vision for new technology use.

This includes mandating the protection of data privacy and considering an age limit of 13 for their use in the classroom. It also outlines requirements for GenAI providers for ethical and effective use. Among a series of guidelines in a 64-page report, UNESCO emphasised on the need for government-sanctioned AI curricula for school education, in technical and vocational education and training.

Steps to regulate GenAI in education

Prior to the release of ChatGPT, governments had been developing or adapting frameworks for regulating the collection and use of data and the adoption of AI systems across sectors including in education, which provided a legislative and policy context for the regulation of newly emergent AI applications.

In the aftermath of the release of multiple competitive GenAI models starting in November 2022, governments have been adopting different policy responses – from banning GenAI to assessing needs for adapting existing frameworks, to urgently formulating new regulations.

Governmental strategies for regulating and facilitating the creative use of GenAI were mapped and reviewed in April 2023. The review suggests a series of six steps that governmental agencies can take to regulate generative AI and reassert public control in order to leverage its potentials across sectors, including in education.

Step 1: Endorse international or regional General Data Protection Regulations (GDPRs) or develop national GDPRs.

Step 2: Adopt/revise and fund whole-of-government strategies on AI.

Step 3: Solidify and implement specific regulations on the ethics of AI.

Step 4: Adjust or enforce existing copyright laws to regulate

Step 5: Elaborate regulatory frameworks on generative AI. The rapid pace of development of AI technologies is forcing national/local governance agencies to speed up their renewal of regulations.

Step 6: Build capacity for proper use of GenAI in education and research.

Step 7: Reflect on the long-term implications of GenAI for education and research.