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close this bookLearning: The Treasure Within (UNESCO, 1996, 48 p.)
close this folderPART THREE: DIRECTIONS
View the documentFrom basic education to university
View the documentTeachers in search of new perspectives
View the documentChoices for educational: the political factor
View the documentInternational co-operation: educating the global village

From basic education to university

· A requirement valid for all countries, albeit in various forms and with different types of content - the strengthening of basic education: hence the emphasis on primary education and its traditional basic programmes - reading, writing, arithmetic - but also on the ability to express oneself in a language that lends itself to dialogue and understanding.

· The need, which will be still greater tomorrow, for receptivity to science and the world of science, which opens the door to the twenty-first century and its scientific and technological upheavals.

· The adaptation of basic education to specific contexts, the most deprived countries as well as the most deprived section of the population, starting out with the facts of everyday life, which affords opportunities for understanding natural phenomena and for different forms of socialization.

· The pressing needs of literacy work and basic education for adults are to be kept in mind.

· In all cases, emphasis is to be placed on pupil-teacher relations, since the most advanced technologies can be no more than a back-up to the relationship (transmission, dialogue and confrontation) between teacher and pupil.

· Secondary education must be rethought in this general context of learning throughout life. The key principle is to arrange for a variety of individual paths through schooling, without ever closing the door on the possibility of a subsequent return to the education system.

· Debates on selection and guidance would be greatly clarified if this principle were fully applied. Everyone would then feel that whatever the choices made or the courses followed in adolescence, no doors would ever be closed in the future, including the doors of the school itself. Equality of opportunity would then mean what it says.

· Universities should be central to the higher level of the system, even if, as is the case in many countries, there are other, non-university establishments of higher education.

· Universities would have vested in them four key functions:

1. To prepare students for research and teaching.
2. To provide highly specialized training courses adapted to the needs of economic and social life.
3. To be open to all, so as to cater for the many aspects of lifelong education in the widest sense.
4. International co-operation.

· The universities should also be able to speak out on ethical and social problems as entirely independent and fully responsible institutions exercising a kind of intellectual authority that society needs to help it to reflect, understand and act.

· The diversity of secondary schooling and the possibilities afforded by universities should provide a valid answer to the challenges of mass education by dispelling the obsession with a one-and-only educational 'king's highway'. Combined with more widespread application of the practice of alternating periods of education with periods of work, these approaches can provide effective tools for fighting against school failure. The extension of learning throughout life will require consideration of new procedures for certification that take account of acquired competences.

Teachers in search of new perspectives

· While the psychological and material situation of teachers differs greatly from country to country, ban upgrading of their status is essential if 'learning throughout life' is to fulfil the central function assigned to it by the Commission in the advancement of our societies and the strengthening of mutual understanding among peoples. Their position as master or mistress in the classroom should be recognized by society and they should be given the necessary authority and suitable resources.

· The concept of learning throughout life leads straight on to that of a learning society, a society that offers many and varied opportunities of learning, both at school and in economic, social and cultural life, whence the need for more collaboration and partnerships with families, industry and business, voluntary associations, people active in cultural life, etc.

· Teachers are also concerned by the imperative requirement to update knowledge and skills. Their professional lives should be so arranged as to accommodate the opportunity, or even the obligation, for them to become more proficient in their art and to benefit from periods of experience in various spheres of economic, social and cultural life. Such possibilities are usually provided for in the many forms of study leave or sabbatical leave. Those formulae, suitably adapted, should be extended to all teachers.

· Even though teaching is essentially a solitary activity, in the sense that each teacher is faced with his or her own responsibilities and professional duties, teamwork is essential, particularly at the secondary level, in order to improve the quality of education and adapt it more closely to the special characteristics of classes or groups of pupils.

· The Commission stresses the importance of exchanges of teachers and partnerships between institutions in different countries. As is confirmed by current activities, such exchanges and partnerships provide an essential added value not only for the quality of education but also for a greater receptivity to other cultures, civilizations and experiences.

· All these lines of emphasis should be the subject of a dialogue, or even of contracts, with teachers' organizations which go beyond the purely corporatist nature of such forms of collaboration: over and above their aims of defending the moral and material interests of their members, teachers' organizations have built up a fund of experience which they are willing to make available to policy-makers.

Choices for educational: the political factor

· Choosing a type of education means choosing a type of society. In all countries, such choices call for extensive public debate, based on an accurate evaluation of education systems. The Commission invites the political authorities to encourage such debate, in order to reach a democratic consensus, this being the best route to success for educational reform strategies.

· The Commission advocates the implementation of measures for involving the different persons and institutions active in society in educational decision-making: administrative decentralization and the autonomy of educational establishments are conducive in most cases, it believes, to the development and generalization of innovation.

· In view of the foregoing, the Commission wishes to reaffirm the role of the political authority, which has the duty clearly to define options and ensure overall regulation, making the required adjustments: education is a community asset which cannot be regulated by market forces alone.

· The Commission none the less does not underrate the force of financial constraints and it advocates the bringing into operation of public/private partnerships. In developing countries, the public funding of basic education remains a priority, but the choices made must not imperil the coherence of the system as a whole, nor lead to other levels of education being sacrificed.

· It is essential that funding structures be reviewed in the light of the principle that learning should continue throughout individuals' lives. The Commission hence feels that the proposed study-time entitlement, as briefly outlined in the report, deserves to be discussed and explored.

· The progress of the new information and communication technologies should give rise to a general deliberation on access to knowledge in the world of tomorrow. The Commission recommends:

- the diversification and improvement of distance education through the use of the new technologies;

- greater use of those technologies in adult education and especially in the in-service training of teachers;

- the strengthening of developing countries' infrastructures and capabilities in this field and the dissemination of such technologies throughout society; these are in any case prerequisites to their use in formal education systems; and

- the launching of programmes for the dissemination of the new technologies under the auspices of UNESCO.

International co-operation: educating the global village

· The need for international co-operation - which itself has to be radically rethought - is felt also in the field of education. This is an issue not only for education policy-makers and the teaching profession but for all who play an active part in community life.

· At the level of international co-operation, a policy of strong encouragement for the education of girls and women should be promoted, in the spirit of the Beijing Conference.

· So-called aid policy should be made to evolve towards partnership by fostering, among other things, co-operation and exchanges within regional groupings.

· A quarter of development aid should be devoted to the funding of education.

· Debt swaps should be encouraged in order to offset the adverse effect of adjustment policies and policies for the reduction of domestic and foreign deficits on educational spending.

· National education systems should be helped to gain strength by encouraging alliances and co-operation between ministries at regional level and between countries facing similar problems.

· Countries should be helped to stress the international dimension of the education provided (curricula, use of information technologies and international co-operation).

· New partnerships between international institutions dealing with education should be encouraged through, for example, the launching of an international project for disseminating and implementing the concept of learning throughout life, on the lines of the inter-agency initiative that resulted in the Jomtien Conference.

· The gathering, at international level, of data on national investment in education should be encouraged, in particular by the establishment of suitable indicators: total amount of private funds, investment by industry, spending on non-formal education, etc.

· A set of indicators should be developed for revealing the most serious dysfunctions of education systems, by cross-relating various quantitative and qualitative data, such as: level of spending on education, drop-out rates, disparities in access, inefficiency of different parts of the system, poor-quality teaching, teachers' status, etc.

· With an eye to the future, a UNESCO observatory should be set up to look into the new information technologies, their evolution and their foreseeable impact on not only education systems but also on modern societies.

· Intellectual co-operation in the field of education should be encouraged through the intermediary of UNESCO: UNESCO professorships, Associated Schools, equitable sharing of knowledge between countries, dissemination of information technologies, and student, teacher and researcher exchanges.

· UNESCO's normative action on behalf of Member States, for instance in relation to the harmonization of national legislation with international instruments, should be intensified.