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Press releases > Paris 15/02/2000
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UNESCO Director-General outlines his vision of Education for All
 Paris, 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.
  Mr 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 takes place.".
  To 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."
  The 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.
 Praising 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."
  Mr 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 commitment."
  Outlining 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."
  UNESCO, 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."
  "Each 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.
  "UNESCO 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."
  "UNESCO 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.
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