Mandate of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century
The aim of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century is to study and reflect on the challenges facing education in the coming years and to formulate suggestions and recommendations in the form of a report which can serve as an agenda for renewal and action for policy-makers and officials at the highest levels. The report will suggest approaches to both policy and practice which are both innovative and feasible, while taking into account the wide diversity of situations, needs, means and aspirations existing in countries and in regions. The report will be addressed primarily to governments, but as one of its purposes will be to address issues related to the role of international co-operation and assistance in general, and to the role of UNESCO in particular, it will also attempt to formulate recommendations which are pertinent for international bodies.
The Commission will focus its reflection on one central and all-encompassing question: what kind of education is needed for what kind of society of tomorrow? It will consider the new roles of education and the new demands made on education systems in a world of accelerating economic, environmental and social change and tension. It will study the implications for education of the major trends in the evolution of contemporary society; it will examine the state of knowledge and experience of the best educational practices in various cultural, economic and political settings in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary policy. In doing so, it will attempt to keep at the heart of its work those most intimately involved in education: learners of all ages, first of all, and those involved in fostering learning, whether they be teachers, parents, members of the community, or other participants in education.
Initially, the Commission will need to identify a series of key questions which it will examine during its work, the answers to which will be the major recommendations it will put forward. These questions will include perennial issues facing governments, societies, and educators, and which will continue to be important during the coming years. There will also be questions raised by new configurations of society, new developments in the physical and social world. The latter will imply new priorities, new study, new action. Some may be universal, based on inevitable and indispensable responses to a changing world; others will be region- or nation-specific and will focus on the widely differing economic, cultural and social situations prevailing in different countries.
Questions concerning education and education systems fall, broadly, into two main categories. The first category includes those questions relating to the purposes, goals, and functions of education, including the aims of individuals and each person's need and desire for self-fulfillment. The second covers the specifically educational issues concerning providers of education, including the models, structures, contents and functioning of education systems.
The Commission will carry out a broadly-based analysis both of what is known about the current situation, and of forecasts and trends in national policies and reforms in education in the different regions of the world over the last twenty years. On this basis, the Commission will reflect in depth on the major turning-points in human development on the eve of the twenty-first century, and the new demands these turning-points will make on education. It will highlight the ways in which education can play a more dynamic and constructive role in preparing individuals and societies for the twenty-first century.
In its deliberations and work, the Commission will attempt to keep in mind some underlying principles which are universal and common to the aims of educators, citizens, policy-makers, and other partners and participants in the process of education.
First, education is a basic human right and a universal human value: learning and education are ends in themselves, to be aimed at by both individuals and societies and to be promoted and made available over the entire lifetime of each individual.
Second, education, formal and non-formal, must serve society as an instrument for fostering the creation, advancement and dissemination of knowledge and science, and by making knowledge and teaching universally available.
Third, the triple goals of equity, relevance and excellence must prevail in any policy of education, and the search for a harmonious combination of these goals is a crucial task for all those involved in educational planning and practice.
Fourth, renewal and any corresponding reform of education must be the result of profound and thoughtful examination and understanding of what is known about successful practice and policy, as well as understanding of the specific conditions and requirements relevant to each particular situation; they must be decided upon by mutual agreement through appropriate pacts among the parties concerned, as a medium-term process.
Fifth, while existence of a wide variety of economic, social, and cultural situations clearly calls for differing approaches to educational development, all approaches must take into account basic and agreed-upon values and concerns of the international community and of the United Nations system: human rights, tolerance and understanding, democracy, responsibility, universality, cultural identity, the search for peace, the preservation of the environment, the sharing of knowledge, alleviation of poverty, population control, health.
Sixth, education is the responsibility of the whole of society: all persons involved and all partnerships - in addition to those incumbent on institutions - must be taken fully into account.
Scope, work and report
The scope of the topic as viewed by the Commission will embrace the concept of education in its broadest meaning, from pre-school through school and higher education, including both formal and non-formal education, and covering the widest possible spectrum of agencies and providers. On the other hand, the conclusions and recommendations will be action-oriented and directed mainly to governmental and private agencies, policy-makers and decision-makers, and in general all those responsible for making and carrying out educational plans and actions. It is to be hoped that they will, in addition, stimulate a far-reaching public debate on educational reform in Member States of UNESCO.
The Commission will meet over a period of two years, on a schedule determined by it, and will submit a report in early 1995. This report will be designed to serve as an agenda for educational renewal and as guidelines for UNESCO's action in the field of education in the coming years. It will be communicated to the governing bodies of UNESCO, to its Member States and National Commissions and to the governmental and non-governmental organizations with which UNESCO co-operates.
The Commission is supported in its work by a Secretariat furnished by UNESCO, and will call upon the intellectual and material resources of UNESCO as required for successful completion of its tasks.
For further information:firstname.lastname@example.org