Cover Image
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

Broadening international co-operation in the global village

The Commission noted the growing tendency, in the political and economic spheres, to resort to international action as a way of finding satisfactory solutions to problems that have a global dimension, if only because of the growing interdependence that has so often been emphasized. It also regretted the inadequacy of results and stressed the need for reform of international institutions to make their action more effective.

The same applies, mutatis mutandis, to the social and educational fields. Emphasis has been deliberately placed on the importance of the World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in March 1995. Education occupies a prominent place in the guidelines adopted there and this prompted the Commission to formulate, in this respect, recommendations concerning:

· a policy of strong encouragement for the education of girls and women, following directly on from the recommendations of the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, September 1995);

· the allocation of a minimum percentage of development aid (a quarter of the total) to fund education: this slanting in the direction of education should also apply to international funding institutions, first and foremost the World Bank, which already plays an important role;

· the development of 'debt-for-education swaps' to offset the adverse effects of adjustment policies and policies for reducing internal and external deficits upon public spending on education;

· the widespread introduction of the new 'information society' technologies in all countries, to prevent yet another gap opening up between rich countries and poor countries; and

· tapping into the outstanding potential offered by nongovernmental organizations, and hence by grass-roots initiatives, which could provide a valuable backup to international co-operation.

These few suggestions should be seen in the context of partnership rather than aid. After so many failures and so much waste, experience militates in favour of partnership, globalization makes it inescapable, and there are some encouraging examples, such as the successful cooperation and exchanges within regional groupings, the European Union being a case in point.

Another justification for partnership is that it can lead to a 'win-win situation': whilst industrialized countries can assist developing countries by the input of their successful experiences, their technologies and financial and material resources, they can learn from the developing countries ways of passing on their cultural heritage, approaches to the socialization of children and, more fundamentally, different cultures and ways of life.

The Commission expresses the hope that the Member States will give UNESCO the necessary resources to enable it to foster both the spirit of partnership and partnership in action, along the lines suggested by the Commission to the Twenty-eighth Session of the General Conference. UNESCO can do this by publicizing successful innovations and helping to establish networks on the basis of grassroots initiatives by non-governmental organizations, whether aiming to develop education of a high standard (UNESCO professorships) or to stimulate research partnerships.

We also believe it has a central role to play in developing the new information technologies in such a way that they serve the interests of quality education.

More fundamentally, however, UNESCO will serve peace and mutual understanding by emphasizing the value of education as a manifestation of the spirit of concord, stemming from the will to live together, as active members of our global village, thinking and organizing for the good of future generations. It is in this way that UNESCO will contribute to a culture of peace.

For the title of its report, the Commission turned to one of La Fontaine's fables, The Ploughman and his Children:

Be sure (the ploughman said), not to sell the inheritance
Our forebears left to us:
A treasure lies concealed therein.

Readapting slightly the words of the poet, who was lauding the virtues of hard work, and referring instead to education - that is, everything that humanity has learned about itself - we could have him say:

But the old man was wise
To show them before he died
That learning is the treasure.

Jacques Delors
Chairman of the Commission