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close this bookLearning: The Treasure Within (UNESCO, 1996, 48 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentLooking ahead
View the documentTensions to be overcome
View the documentDesigning and building our common future
View the documentLearning throughout life: the heartbeat of society
View the documentThe stages and bridges of learning: a fresh approach
View the documentGetting the reform strategies right
View the documentBroadening international co-operation in the global village


Jacques Delors

In confronting the many challenges that the future holds in store, humankind sees in education an indispensable asset in its attempt to attain the ideals of peace, freedom and social justice. As it concludes its work, the Commission affirms its belief that education has a fundamental role to play in personal and social development. The Commission does not see education as a miracle cure or a magic formula opening the door to a world in which all ideals will be attained, but as one of the principal means available to foster a deeper and more harmonious form of human development and thereby to reduce poverty, exclusion, ignorance, oppression and war.

At a time when educational policies are being sharply criticized or pushed - for economic and financial reasons - down to the bottom of the agenda, the Commission wishes to share this conviction with the widest possible audience, through its analyses, discussions and recommendations.

Does the point need to be emphasized? The Commission was thinking principally about the children and young people who will take over from today's generation of adults, the latter being all too inclined to concentrate on their own problems. Education is also an expression of affection for children and young people, whom we need to welcome into society, unreservedly offering them the place that is theirs by right therein - a place in the education system, to be sure, but also in the family, the local community and the nation. This elementary duty needs to be constantly brought to mind, so that greater attention is paid to it, even when choosing between political, economic and financial options. In the words of a poet: The Child is father of the Man'.

Our century has been as much one of sound and fury as of economic and social progress - progress that in any case has not been equally shared. At the dawn of a new century the prospect of which evokes both anguish and hope, it is essential that all people with a sense of responsibility turn their attention to both the aims and the means of education. It is the view of the Commission that, while education is an ongoing process of improving knowledge and skills, it is also - perhaps primarily - an exceptional means of bringing about personal development and building relationships among individuals, groups and nations.

This view was explicitly adopted by the members of the Commission when they accepted their mandate. They wished moreover, by the arguments they adduced, to stress the pivotal role of UNESCO, a role that stems directly from the ideas on which UNESCO was founded, based upon the hope for a world that is a better place to live in, where people will have learned to respect the rights of women and men, to show mutual understanding, and to use advances in knowledge to foster human development rather than to create further distinctions between people.

Our Commission had the perhaps impossible task of overcoming the obstacles presented by the extraordinary diversity of situations in the world and trying to arrive at analyses that are universally valid and conclusions acceptable to everyone.

Nevertheless, the Commission did its best to project its thinking on to a future dominated by globalization, to choose those questions that everyone is asking and to lay down some guidelines that can be applied both within national contexts and on a worldwide scale.