The year in Education

UNESCO/Jonquières, Alberto

1 March : Publication of the 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education, which warned that armed conflict is robbing 28 million children of an education by exposing them to widespread sexual violence, targeted attacks on schools and other abuses.

14 March: three days after the 11 March tsunami and accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, a UNESCO-supported programme (from the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan) raised over 1 million euros for a programme to help rebuild schools. The Kizuna project subsequently generated some 30,000 messages of solidarity from children worldwide for the children affected by the tsunami.  

22 to 24 March: 20 years on, Jomtien hosts the High-Level Group on Education for All.
Some 40 global leaders attended the Tenth Meeting of the High-Level Group (HLG) on Education for All (EFA) in Jomtien, Thailand, the site of the historical 1990 World Conference on Education where the EFA movement was launched. The Working Group on EFA (Paris, 2-3 February) paved the way for this encounter. 

12 April: Young People speak out on education for human rights
A 12-minute film, “Education for Human Rights… Young People Talking”, produced by UNESCO with the participation of pupils of UNESCO Associated Schools in 10 countries, was released in April to raise awareness of key human rights issues in schools around the world.

13-15 April: The shortage of motivated, qualified teachers in Africa was discussed at the Pan- African Conference on Teachers in Togo. Held in the capital Lomé, it addressed teacher professional development within a reformed educational system in Africa.

27 April :Sub-Saharan African countries increased their real expenditure on education by more than 6% each year over the past decade, showing that Africa invests in its children, according to a report on Financing Education in Sub-Saharan Africa published by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics. Yet many countries are still a long way from providing good quality primary education.

16-17 May :The UNESCO Global Forum: Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education was attended by more than 250 participants from nearly 70 countries. Co-organized with the OECD and the World Bank, the Forum concluded that “International rankings of higher education institutions are here to stay, but classifications should evolve to give information that is more relevant to the needs of users”. 

26 May ;UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova launched “Better Life, Better Future”, a dynamic new partnership for girls’ and women’s education, at a high-level forum at UNESCO Headquarters. United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and international leaders of the political and corporate world were present at the event.  

3 June : Sex education equals value for money: Sexuality education is key to HIV prevention among young people: it may not only provide value for money but, in some cases, major cost savings, according to a landmark UNESCO study published in June on the cost and cost-effectiveness of school-based sexuality education.

6 June :“New technologies and broadband Internet access offer formidable opportunities for increasing access to education”, affirmed UNESCO’s Director-General, speaking about education at the Broadband Commission for Digital Development during its meeting at UNESCO Headquarters.

8 June : UNESCO fights cholera in Haiti with educational cartoons
Ti-Joël, a famous Haitian cartoon character, stars in six animated educational films that show young people how to avoid and treat cholera. In June, the videos were shown at schools and broadcast on Haitian National Television (TNH) and private channels. They can also be found on online media and social networking sites.    

4-8 July :Ministers at ECOSOC recognize UNESCO’s global leadership in education.
The High-level Segment of the 2011 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) on education (Geneva) brought UNESCO widespread recognition at the highest level as a global leader in education, with three mentions in the Ministerial Declaration. Ministers adopted a declaration on 8 July acknowledging the links between education and the achievement of all the MDGs, and placing education at the core of development.  

9 July : South Sudan: a new country, a new future through education
The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest country on 9 July. Education is chief among its nation-building tasks. On the request of the South Sudanese Ministry of Education, UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and UNICEF are providing technical assistance to the development of an Education Sector Strategic Plan. 

3 August :Look up! It’s the UNESCO educational satellite!
A mini-satellite bearing the UNESCO logo was launched from the International Space Station (ISS) in support of the UNESCO space education programme. The satellite was expected to be in orbit between three and nine months, as the first stage of a programme on the use of space facilities for educational purposes.  

8 September : UNESCO Literacy Prizes 2011 reward innovation and peace-building
This year’s International Literacy Day, celebrated worldwide, focused on the link between literacy and peace. Literacy programmes promoting peace and social cohesion in Burundi, Mexico, the United States of America and the Democratic Republic of Congo won the 2011 UNESCO International Confucius and King Sejong Literacy prizes. Honourable mentions went to programmes in Pakistan and the Philippines. 

5 October :World Teachers’ Day: Towards greater gender equality
Held annually to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels; World Teachers’ Day 2011 addressed “Teachers for gender equality”. Over 400 people from around the world attended a celebration of teachers at UNESCO Headquarters.

UNRWA launched an education reform strategy on World Teachers’ Day to improve the quality of learning for Palestine refugee students in the agency’s 700 schools.

10 October : UNESCO unveils new strategy on HIV and AIDS
The revised UNESCO Strategy on HIV and AIDS was launched. The Organization will place greater emphasis on HIV prevention in the context of wider health promotion to ensure that all girls boys, young women and men have access to comprehensive HIV education.

25 October :2011 Global Education Digest: coping with the demand for secondary education. Governments are struggling to meet the rising demand for secondary education, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. According the Global Education Digest, which was  published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in October 2011, the continent has enough school places for just 36% of children of age to enrol.  

25 October to 10 November :Education at the UNESCO General Conference : The Education Commission held in the framework of UNESCO’s 36th General Conference (1-3 and 7 November) allowed Member States to set the stage for UNESCO’s future education-related work. Its discussions focused, among other issues, on skills for the world of work and the future of the Education for All (EFA) programme beyond 2015.

7-8 November : The next education funding challenge: Raising $2.5 billion over the next three years: The Global Partnership for Education Pledging Conference (Copenhagen, 2011) mobilized resources and political commitments to support education investment. Over 200 high-level participants from more than 40 countries participated in the event. US$1.5 billion were pledged at the Conference.

17 November : UNESCO awarded Magisterio prize for excellence in education: The 2011 Magisterio Prize for Education Protagonists was awarded to UNESCO’s Education for All programme “in recognition of its ambitious educational horizon for 2015”.

4-18 November : Marney Murphy, a prominent member of the UNESCO Associated Schools network (ASPnet) in the United States, won the Beveridge Family Teaching Prize. Awarded by the American Historical Association, the prize rewards excellence and innovation in primary and secondary history teaching.

25-26 November: At an international conference in Tokyo, eight member states in Asia and the Pacific updated the 1983 Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Asia and the Pacific. This was a breakthrough for student and professional mobility in the region.

1 December :World AIDS Day 2011: Getting to Zero: To mark World AIDS Day, and with the aim of improving the capacity of education systems to respond to the AIDS pandemic, UNESCO unveiled an important new strategy on HIV and AIDS. The new strategy stresses the importance of improving access to comprehensive HIV education.

8 to 11 DecemberCelebrating the right to education
An exhibition of posters illustrating the right to education was held as part of the celebrations of Human Rights Day, on 10 December. UNESCO promotes the World Programme for Human Rights Education (2005-ongoing) in close cooperation with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights.

12 to 16 December: First UNESCO Mobile Learning Week
The First UNESCO Mobile Learning Week was held at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris from 12-16 December 2011. It explored the potential and challenges of mobile learning in a world with over 5.3 billion mobile subscribers, representing approximately 90% of the planet’s population.

15 December : Teaching the Holocaust in primary schools
Why, what and how can educators teach about the Holocaust? A symposium at UNESCO Headquarters entitled “Teaching difficult issues in primary schools: the example of the Holocaust” was held to address these questions.



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