International Decades

In addition to the Education for All movement, the United Nations has launched a series of decades, some of which focus on education. UNESCO has been mandated to play the lead coordination role in the EFA movement, the UN Literacy Decade and the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

The Millennium Development Goals have a particular focus on education through the two goals on universal primary education and gender equality.

As lead coordination agency, UNESCO seeks to ensure that these initiatives complement each other and are mutually reinforcing.


UN Literacy Decade (UNLD) : 2003 to 2012
The UN Literacy Decade, launched by the UN General Assembly, aims to create a literate environment for all, girls and boys, women and men in both developing and developed countries. It presents the international community and UN Member States with a framework to increase their efforts to meet the literacy and non-formal education goals set for EFA and to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals.


UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD) : 2005 to 2014
Launched by the UN General Assembly, this Decade aims to ensure that the principles of sustainable development are included in children’s schooling, higher education, non-formal education and community-based learning activities. It promotes the idea that education must change in order to address the social, economic, cultural and environmental problems which we face in the 21st century.

Back to top