2011 - The year in education

UNESCO/Jonquières, Alberto

The year 2011 saw UNESCO launch many important education initiatives. It included a symbolic return by the international community to Jomtien, Thailand, to give a new impetus to the EFA movement which first began there 20 years ago.

Another high point of the year was the endorsement of UNESCO’s global leadership in education at the influential High-level Segment of the 2011 UN ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review, which placed education at the core of development 

The 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education, warned that armed conflict was robbing 28 million children of an education. Launched in some 50 countries, it raised awareness of this important issue throughout the year.  

Initiatives to place girls’ and women’s education and literacy firmly on the international agenda included a dynamic new education partnership, “Better Life, Better Future”, which Director-General Irina Bokova launched at UNESCO Headquarters with United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Prime Ministers of Bangladesh and Mali – who are both women – and representatives of Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and Procter & Gamble. 

To encourage international debate, UNESCO’s Global Forum on Rankings and Accountability in Higher Education debated rankings and questioned their influence on education policy. The Organization also advanced reflections on access and quality through harnessing ICTs for education through events such as Mobile Learning Week. 

Restoring education and expressing solidarity following natural disasters was, as always, a priority. After the tsunami and nuclear accident on 11 March in Fukushima, Japan a UNESCO-supported programme raised over 1 million euros to help rebuild schools, while the Kizuna project generated 30,000 messages of solidarity from children worldwide. 

Last but not least, to improve the capacity of education systems to respond to and reverse the AIDS epidemic, UNESCO unveiled an important new strategy on HIV and AIDS, stressing the importance of widening access to comprehensive HIV education.

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