PROMOTING THE QUALITY AND PERTINENCE OF EDUCATION — GLOBAL CHALLENGES, NEW EDUCATIONS
NEW EDUCATIONS EMERGE AND SPREAD
UNESCO, whose mandate covers the realms of education, science, including the
social sciences, culture and communication, has approached these new challenges
from an interdisciplinary and intersectoral standpoint – taking on in this domain,
as in so many others, a pioneering role – by commissioning studies and research to
the complexity of these phenomena and their interaction, (3) and through
awareness-raising and information actions addressed to the general public (4) as
well as through educational activities.
Concerning the latter, it has been necessary to innovate: invent a new approach
to teaching where, in contrast to traditional disciplines, the objective is not the
acquisition of an item of knowledge – have chemistry lessons to learn about ethanol
or demographic processes ever had a preventive effect? Preventive education is new
aim is to induce and anticipate changes in thinking,
attitudes and behaviour at individual and at community levels regarding questions of
population, (5) environment, (6) health, etc., changes the effects of which will
generally only become apparent several years later, or when young people leave the
formal education system. (7)
Concerning the latter, it has been necessary to innovate: invent a new approach to teaching where, in contrast to traditional disciplines, the objective is not the acquisition of an item of knowledge – have chemistry lessons to learn about ethanol or demographic processes ever had a preventive effect? Preventive education is new because its aim is to induce and anticipate changes in thinking, attitudes and behaviour at individual and at community levels regarding questions of population, (5) environment, (6) health, etc., changes the effects of which will generally only become apparent several years later, or when young people leave the formal education system. (7)
THE TURNING POINT
by U. Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations
The nations which seek to develop their economies today face all the old dilemmas of rapid transition – how to modernize static farming, how to squeeze savings from a poor pre-industrial population, how to choose those industries which actually produce a surplus, how to finance the new skills needed to produce more capital before the capital exists to divert to the schools. But they face even tougher problems as well – the population explosion, urbanization beyond control, unfavourable trade patterns and inappropriate technology.
The United Nations has already produced a very large volume of information on the explosive nature of the world’s expansion in population. The censuses it inspired have shown, throughout the developing world, an even higher growth rate than had been expected. The World Population Conference, to be held in 1965, (8) will no doubt underline with new urgency the degree to which, in the developing continents, the decline in mortality and growth in population, by preceding the modernization of the economy, now impedes that process. Yet modernization alone can provide food and income for the growing millions.
The Conference will make inescapably, dramatically clear that the situation carries with it a potentially inevitable risk of disease, starvation and social collapse. Governments can therefore be urged, with even greater energy, to give proper priority to the slowing down of population growth rates and the adoption of acceptable methods of control.
So far, the United Nations has chiefly concentrated on drawing attention to population factors in the context of economic and social development by means of scientific evaluation and analysis of data.
It is now going to expand the scope of its work so that it includes questions connected with policies which are designed to influence the size, structure and change of the population.
The population problem of the developing countries, however, is not merely one of too rapid increase in the total numbers – it is vastly accentuated by massive shifts of population from the countryside to the burgeoning cities. The most conspicuous problem is the acute shortage of housing resulting in overcrowding, the growth of ‘shanty towns’ and a chronic shortage of community services and facilities.
The United Nations Development Decade at Mid-point, an appraisal presented by the Secretary-General to the U.N. Economic and Social. Council in July, 1965.
Distribution of information and materials has been provided by the regional team through the Clearing House set up at the Regional Office at the onset of activities in the region in 1973.
Conceived initially to provide logistic support to the programme, it developed other services to meet the requirements of the regional advisory team, as well as requests from Member States concerning information and material needs of their national projects.
Besides functioning as a documentation centre in the collection of population education materials from the projects, and processing and cataloguing this material using a computerized data bank system, particularly over the last ten years, the Centre operates Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) and repackaging services which include reconstitution of information into new forms to facilitate understanding and use: bibliographies, accession lists, handbooks, manuals, booklets, kits, etc. The Centre also identifies new users, provides technical advice to Member States for the creation of national centres, and organizes training courses for their personnel.
The Clearing House today has a documentation centre with more than 14,000 written publications, 350 audio-visual materials and 156 periodicals. From its inception until 1991, it distributed more than 294,000 publications to professionals in the region, and sent about 1,400 SDI packages containing 19,000 documents to national projects in various countries. The mailing list includes 3,050 individuals and institutions. It is the most successful institution of its kind within the UNESCO/UNFPA Population Education Programme.
The Organization has been a driving force in building up these new educations –
environmental education, population education, education to prevent the abuse of
drugs, and education to prevent AIDS. In each case, it has meant taking the lead
in a number of activities: seeking fresh approaches at different levels of teaching,
pilot experiments, training new specialists and teachers, and producing prototype materials,
simultaneously providing logistical support in the field of educational research,
documentation and dissemination of information, use of the media and raising the awareness
of decision-makers and the general public in order to gain acceptance of these new,
different, forms of education. UNESCO is a forerunner in all these fields, closely
co-operating in the programmes of the Specialized Agencies of the United Nations and
with other international, governmental and non-governmental bodies. (9) The Organization
began collaborating with UNFPA within the framework of the Information Education and
Communication Programme (IEC) in 1974 and with UNEP in the International Environmental
Education Programme (IEEP), 1975-1996; it also collaborates with UNFPA and WHO to promote
education to prevent the abuse of licit and illicit drugs, (10) and with WHO, within the
framework of UNAIDS, to prevent AIDS through education. Such co-operation has led to
efforts at conceptualization at international level, (11) to the organization of
international ministerial level meetings prepared through regional meetings, (12)
and to the development of pilot projects adapted to different regional contexts.
In 1983 and 1985, UNESCO organized two international, intensive, short-term training sessions for national directors and co-ordinators of country projects. Based on this experience, and to produce a multiplier effect, it was decided with UNFPA to launch a project for the preparation of ‘Population Education Materials for Teacher Trainers - A Kit’, consisting of seventeen documents or modules, produced in English, French and Spanish.
The kit’s contents
Development of UNESCO/UNFPA Population Education Programme over the Last Twenty Years, ED-93/CONF.401. Ref.1.
POPULATION EDUCATION PROJECTS
The extent to which a country is interested in one particular new form of education varies according to the national importance of each problem and political will. Most population education activities, with different priorities according to the region, have been developed in Southern countries thanks to the efforts of the population education teams in the Regional Offices. Over twenty years, population education projects for both formal and non-formal education have been launched in more than 100 countries, the most recent in Eastern Europe. Over forty environmental education pilot projects have been set up worldwide, but particularly in industrialized countries and their results published in Connect. (13) UNESCO is also entrusted with all education-related activities falling within the United Nations Comprehensive Multidisciplinary Outline of Future Activities in Drug Abuse Control, adopted in 1987.
(Union of Myanmar)
Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1961 to 1971
I do not wish to seem overdramatic, but I can only conclude from the information that is available to me, that the members of the United Nations have perhaps ten years left in which to subordinate their quarrels and launch a global partnership to curb the arms race, to improve the human environment, to defuse the population explosion, and to supply the required momentum to development efforts.
Quoted in the Introduction to The Limits to Growth, A Report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind, New York, Universe Books, 1972
The Faure Report
Learning to Be, UNESCO, 1972
Club of Rome
The limits to Growth, A Report for the Club of Rome, Commentary No. 10, Universe Books, New York, 1972
Education on the Move, OISE/UNESCO, 1975
Mostopha K. Tolba
Address to the Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education, Tbilisi, Georgia, 1977
Giuseppe di Gennaro
‘How Should We Tackle the Drug Problem?, The UNESCO Courier, July 1987
The UNESCO Courier, January 1993
The Integration of Education for the Prevention of AIDS into Population Education Programmes
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) caused by the Human-Immuno-Deficiency virus (HIV), constitutes an international public health problem of great proportion and is having serious demographic consequences affecting the development potential of countries.
The current international concern with respect to the spread of AIDS includes its relationship with mother and child health and with education, information and communication sectors.
UNESCO’s direct interest in and involvement with the issue of AIDS prevention and control was originated by the International Conference on Education, the 40th session of which, held in Geneva in December 1986, adopted a special recommendation entitled ‘Education in the fight against AIDS’. UNFPA was involved as from 1987 in the WHO special programme on AIDS as a member of the Committee of participating parties, the major purpose of which is to contribute to the global strategy for the prevention and control of HIV infection, and assigns high priority in this area to education and information.
Considering that population education is likely to be identified as the logical entry point for the integration of AIDS prevention, UNESCO/UNFPA regional advisors were involved as of the beginning in the programme of education for the prevention of AIDS and participated in awareness and orientation seminars. This resulted in the preparation of regional resource and teaching materials on the topic, produced and disseminated to the countries of the region, the holding of special manifestations, for example, on the occasion of World AIDS Day, or supporting pilot projects in this particular field.
Presently, most of the population education country projects have already introduced under the sex and family life component of population education content elements of AIDS to prevent transmission. As a first step in this direction, a WHO/UNESCO AIDS Education and Health Promotion Materials Exchange Centre for Asia and the Pacific (AIDSED Centre) was conceived as an integral part of the Population Education Clearing House.
Development of UNESCO/UNFPA Population Education Programme over the Last Twenty Years, ED-93/CONF.401. Ref.1.
(3) Chiefly through its large-scale intergovernmental programmes, such as the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB), for the earth’s ecosystems and resources, or the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) for water resources or by strengthening programmes in demography and human resources, etc.
(4) Assistance in the production of radio and television broadcasts, films, training media personnel, etc.
(5) Age of marriage, early pregnancy, size of the family, gender roles, sexual health, ageing and inter-generation relationships, migration, etc. Political choice, and ethics and religion intervene in population concerns which vary according to region, country and epoch. Thus, until the 1950s, birth control policies dominated, and population remained a controversial issue at international level until the adoption of the World Plan of Action on Population in Bucharest in 1974.
(6) Greenhouse effect, drop in the ozone level, desertification, and deforestation, pollution of air and oceans, growing scarcity of fresh water, etc. Ecological questions have also engendered new political movements.
(7) It was quickly realized that information alone was not enough to generate changes in attitudes and behaviour. The KAP model – ‘Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice’ – which has been at the forefront of numerous information campaigns – health education, prevention of tobacco or alcohol abuse, family planning – proved too simplistic to be effective in education.
(8) The Conference was held in Belgrade from 30 August to 10 September.
(9) For example, in 1986, OECD launched a project on ‘L’action de l’école en faveur de l’environnement’ (ENSI) in which nineteen OECD member countries participate.
(10) In this field, UNESCO is also active in the prevention of the abuse of illicit drugs (in co-operation with UNFDAC), and licit drugs (alcohol, tobacco) with WHO. UNESCO contributed to the definition of prevention objectives in the Action plan in the fight against drug abuse adopted by the International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (Vienna, 1987)
(11) This work gave rise to publications which can be considered as decisive in their respective fields: Population Education: a Contemporary Concern, which summarizes international study of the basic concepts and methodology of population education (1978); Drugs Demystified: Drug Education (1975) and Educating Against Drug Abuse (1987); L’éducation face aux problèmes de l’environnement (1974); Health Education at School to Prevent AIDS and STDs (1992).
(12) Chiefly, the Intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education (Tbilisi, Georgia, 1977), and the UNESCO/ UNEP International Congress on Environmental Education and Training (Moscow, 1987), during which an international EE strategy for the 1990s was defined; the First International Congress on Population Education and Development (Istanbul, Turkey, 1993) which adopted a framework for action in population education on the eve of the twenty-first century.
(13) Connect, issued in more than 27,000 copies, in eight language versions.