Creation of IIEP

First annual training programme


  • International Conference on the World Crisis in Education, Williamsburg, Virginia, United States
  • ‘Fundamentals of Educational Planning’ series launched

Publication of Qualitative Aspects of Educational Planning

IIEP moves to its new permanent Headquarters

IIEP Newsletter first published

Creation of the International Working Group on Education (IWGE) for which IIEP provides the secretariat


The International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) was established in Paris in 1963 by UNESCO. Modelled along the lines of a small university institute, with complete intellectual freedom, the Institute immediately became a focal point for research and planning not only by virtue of its academic studies, but also through its outreach work and its training activities. Year by year, it gradually built up a worldwide network of individuals and institutions involved in educational planning and administration. The Institute’s activities match UNESCO’s priorities and reflect the evolution of political, economic, social and cultural conditions in its Member States.


Firts Meeting of the Governing Board of the Institute, UNESCO Headquarters, 18 july 1963 Within the framework of the United Nations Development Decade (1961-1970), and given the importance, as underlined by the United Nations General Assembly, of planned development of education, co-ordinated with social and economic development, in 1963 UNESCO founded the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) in Paris, with the support of the World Bank, the United Nations and the Ford Foundation. (1) The French Government provided premises and equipment. At that time educational planning was at its beginnings and had, until then, been practised by just a few countries. So, the creation of the Paris Institute satisfied the need for an international centre which could elaborate, validate and disseminate theories, concepts and methodologies in a relatively unknown sphere. An international institute, rounding out the activities of a network of regional centres created at the beginning of the 1960s, (2) IIEP was entrusted with the dual mission of research and training.

The very first task of the Institute was to draft a state-of-the-art review, (3)to travel to some of the Member States, in particular the then USSR, France and the United States, to study their experiences and to draw conclusions about educational planning based on what had been learned from the Major Project for Latin America. Concluding very rapidly that planning had to build on problems which Member States actually encountered, IIEP launched surveys on the development of education, especially in the newly independent countries of Africa. The Institute also organized training seminars for directors and staff of regional planning centres each year.

1973, New IIEP Headquarters provided by French Government The first nine-month Annual Training Programme (4) was inaugurated in October 1965. During the last thirty years, more than 1,100 specialists from 145 countries have participated in the programme, some of whom have since been called to high office in their countries. In addition to the annual training course, IIEP organizes a number of intensive training courses, (5) as well as seminars on current issues, which are held either at Paris Headquarters or in Member States, close to the practical problems these countries must come to grips with. In recent years, IIEP has taken advantage of the possibilities offered by distance education, (6) which enables seminar participants to stay in their own countries. The dissemination of instructional materials, such as the ‘Fundamentals of Educational Planning’ series first published in 1967, (7) has broadened the scope and impact of training activities. In 1969, and for several years after, the Institute was also entrusted with training and further training of UNESCO staff as well as of specialists of other national or international organizations working in educational development.

Ruth Lerner de Almea
IIEP first graduating class, Minister of Education of Venezuela from 1984 to 1985

This means that educational planning is both an art and a science, but more of an art than a science. There is no doubt that educational planning integrated with the general planning of each country must become an exercise in careful and considered thought, and which should deliver a greater return from investment in education.

La diversificación de la educación, Dissertation, IIEP, 1965

Raymond Poignant
Director of IIEP from 1969 to 1974

The choice between the main alternatives in an economic and social plan must be based on considerations immediately relevant to each country and on the image each society has of its future.[...] Who better than the teachers should be able to help define what this image is to be?

The Relation of Educational Plans to Economic and Social Planning, UNESCO/IIEP, 1967

Philip H. Coombs
(United States)
Founding Director of IIEP, from 1963 to 1968

The assumption is that the educational system will produce the kinds and amounts of human resources required for the economy’s growth, and that the economy will in fact make good use of these resources. But suppose the opposite happens? Suppose the educational system turns out the wrong ’mix’ of manpower? Or suppose it turns out the right mix, but the economy does not use it well? What then? Doubts then arise about education’s productivity and the efficacy of the investment made in it.

The World Educational Crisis, Oxford University Press, 1968

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(1) This link with the international community was given concrete expression with the composition of the IIEP Governing Board: eight members, including the Chair, are elected from amongst top-level educators and economists of international renown; four other members are designated representatives of the United Nations system.

(2) In Beirut, Dakar, New Delhi, and Santiago. See also the section on ‘Educational Planning’, p. 182 et seq.

(3) The first publications were a bibliography and a directory of training and research institutes.

(4) According to a three-tier system of training, the first two, basic training and practice in planning, with individual support being provided by the regional centres.

(5) Estimates indicate that more than 5,000 managers have been trained during the last thirty years.

(6) ‘Textbooks for All’, a distance education course for educational planners and policy makers organized in 1994 with the University of West Indies, Jamaica.

(7) Number 1, What is Educational Planning was published in 1967. No. 52 issued in 1996 is devoted to basic education. From the 1980s onwards, IIEP produced a series of self- training modules.

Caption: Firts Meeting of the Governing Board of the Institute, UNESCO Headquarters, 18 july 1963. (From left to right: Sir Sydney Caine, Chairman, Philip H. Coombs, Director and Stéphane Hessel, representative of the French Government).