UNESCO advocates the teaching of philosophy

“By developing the intellectual tools to analyze and understand key concepts such as justice, dignity and freedom, by building capacities for independent thought and judgment, by enhancing the critical skills to understand and question the world and its challenges, and by fostering reflection on values and principles, philosophy is a “‘school of freedom’”. UNESCO’s Intersectoral Strategy on Philosophy (2005)

The last in the series of Regional High-Level Meetings focused on the state of philosophy teaching and its challenges for Europe and North America, and took place in Milan (Italy), from 14 to 16 February 2011.

Since the publication of the study on the state of the art of philosophy teaching throughout the world entitled Philosophy, a School of Freedom (2007, PDF, 14 MB), UNESCO has given international impetus in encouraging philosophy teaching at all levels of education, as a significant contribution to quality education.

Because of philosophy teaching and its challenges vary from region to region, UNESCO launched in 2009 a series of Regional High-Level Meetings on the Teaching of Philosophy, in partnership with Member States and academic stakeholders.

The objective was two-fold:

  • to discuss the state of the teaching of philosophy in the different countries of the region as well as its challenges;
  • to formulate recommendations for the attention of relevant actors, and more particularly for the public authorities responsible for education, so as to introduce philosophy in the curricula where it does not exist and reinforce and improve it where it does.

For each meeting, Member States sent representatives and experts, thus allowing in-depth discussions on the way philosophy teaching can be improved or introduced.

The following meetings took place:

  • Arab region: Tunis, Tunisia, 11-12 May 2009;
  • Asia and the Pacific: Manila, Philippines, 25-26 May 2009;
  • Latin America and the Caribbean: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 8-9 June 2009;
  • Africa: Bamako, Mali, 1-2 September 2009 (French-speaking countries), and Port Louis, Mauritius, 7-8 September 2009 (English-speaking countries);
  • Europe and North America: Milan, Italy, 14-16 February 2011.

At each meeting, working documents on the specifics and challenges related to the teaching of philosophy in the relevant regions were discussed.

Regional publications were produced by UNESCO, including the main issues and challenges addressed during each meeting, and regional recommendations.

The publications can be downloaded:

Back to top