Director-General outlines his vision of Education for All
15 February 2000 - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura
presented his vision of how the Organization must work with
other intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations to
promote basic education ahead of the World Education Forum which
will be held in Dakar (Senegal) in April this year.
Matsuura cautioned that "schools are becoming more and more
fortresses of the past rather than avenues for the future" and
that they have been outdistanced by the fast pace of change
in society and technology. "Students sense that schools are
becoming less and less useful in preparing them for the future",
he said. "Education will never live up to its promise unless
there is a quiet but fundamental revolution in the way teaching
provide education for all, "to reach the unreached", Mr Matsuura
said, "requires new and innovative modalities, often beyond
the scope of established education bureaucracies and systems."
He argued that "the seeds for such new approaches are often
to be found in the experiences of NGOs or entities concerned
with rural areas, poverty alleviation, or special populations."
Director-General was speaking on Monday at a Steering Committee
meeting of the organisations of the International Consultative
Forum on Education for All (EFA) established at the 1990 Jomtien
Conference on Education for All to extend the reach of basic
education world-wide and reduce illiteracy. The Forum includes
the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP; UNESCO; the
United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF; the United Nations Population
Fund, UNFPA; and the World Bank, major bilateral donors, education
NGOs and representatives of governments from all regions.
the Steering Committee for keeping the issue on the "priority
agenda of world development," Mr Matsuura spoke of the 2-year
assessment of trends in basic education through the 1990s now
coming to an end and said: "It is my primary concern that the
momentum generated by your efforts and those of the 183 countries
participating in the assessment exercise be sustained and accelerated".
He pledged to "keep UNESCO squarely within the strong inter-agency
alliance supporting EFA."
Matsuura said that the global EFA assessment "ought to give
us the best reality-based picture of EFA the world has ever
had," and said the initiative may be "the single largest piece
of research conducted at the close of the 20th century."
He predicted that the World Forum in Dakar, April 26-28, will
forge "a new and dynamic Framework of Action by which all stakeholders
- governments, NGOs, civil society and agencies - can be guided
to accelerate progress towards education for all." But, he argued,
the crucial follow-up and implementation of the Framework will
call on each country and each international agency "to […] determine
a vision and a corresponding strategy according to which it
can mobilise its own resources in the cause of EFA". He added:
"As the United Nations agency mandated for education, and as
the intergovernmental body of ministers of education around
the world, UNESCO must undertake this […] task with the utmost
UNESCO vision of EFA, Mr Matsuura pointed out that much of the
discourse so far has focused on the modalities of providing
education for all "rather than on what exactly should constitute
a quality basic education for the 21st century." He pledged
that "UNESCO will continue to advocate that special attention
to the inclusive notion" of EFA and said that, to that end,
"expanded partnerships and new modalities will be sought."
he said, considers EFA to encompass more than "schooling for
children but also out-reach to youth and adults, early childhood
learning, adult literacy, skills training and non-formal education."
Mr Matsuura expressed concern "that not enough attention has
been paid to the content and fundamental messages of basic education"
and stressed that "the basic education required today cannot
just be a matter of reading, writing and counting."
community needs citizens able to seize scientific progress and
its essential applications in health, sustainable development
and the battle against scourges such as HIV/AIDS. Individuals
and communities need to harness the potential of culture to
ensure that globalisation and the consequent homogenisation
of knowledge is counterbalanced by the preservation of cultural
diversity and individual identities. […] Each society and each
citizen needs the values and skills to counter intolerance and
conflict at the root," Mr Matsuura explained.
will bring its inter-sectoral competencies […] to meet these
urgent social and individual needs," the Director-General promised,
adding that the results of the EFA assessment have created "a
wellspring of renewed advocacy, public awareness, and social
mobilisation", Furthermore, the assessment makes possible the
"analysis of data that translates into policy decisions, programmes,
projects, and re-alignments of priorities and resources."
will sustain this momentum," Mr Matsuura pledged, "developing
[…] a culture of information analysis at country level. We will
be […] a storehouse and a channel of information on what is
taking place in basic education". He further explained: "As
the institutionally-mandated United Nations repository of statistics
on education, UNESCO’s […] Institute for Statistics will continue
to work closely with you and all partners in sustaining your
initiatives." He also highlighted the contribution to changing
content, new systems and pedagogy of UNESCO’s World Education
Reports and of the Organization’s education Institutes - in
Paris, Hamburg, Geneva, Addis Ababa and Moscow - and singled
out their academic focus and established networks.