|Learning: The Treasure Within (UNESCO, 1996, 48 p.)|
Education has a fundamental role to play in personal and social development. It is not a miracle cure or a magic formula opening the door to a world in which all ideals will be attained. It is 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. The coming century, dominated by globalization, will bring with it enduring tensions to overcome, tensions between the global and the local, the universal and the individual, tradition and modernity, long-term and short-term considerations, competition and equality of opportunity, the unlimited expansion of knowledge and the limited capacity of human beings to assimilate it, and the spiritual and the material. Whatever the diversity of cultures, and systems of social organization, there is a universal challenge of reinventing the democratic ideal to create, or maintain, social cohesion.
In this context, learning throughout life will be one of the keys to meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century. The International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, chaired by former European Commission President Jacques Delors, proposes in this report that, building on the four pillars that are the foundations of education - learning to be, learning to know, learning to do, and learning to live together -all societies aim to move towards a necessary Utopia in which none of the talents hidden like buried treasure in every person are left untapped.
A fresh approach is proposed to the stages and bridges of learning, whereby the paths through education systems become more varied and the value of each is enhanced. While universal basic education is an absolute priority, secondary education has a pivotal role to play in the individual learning paths of young people and in the development of societies. And, higher education institutions should be diversified so as to take into account their functions and duties as centres of knowledge, as places of professional training, as the crossroads for learning throughout life and as partners in international co-operation.
The central role of teachers, and the need to improve their training, status and conditions of work, are stressed. And, in a world increasingly dominated by technology, emphasis must be placed on ways both to use technology in the service of education and to prepare people to master it for living and working. Getting the reform strategies right, by a broad-based dialogue, and by increasing responsibility and involvement of stakeholders at every level, will be a crucial element of educational renewal.
The report to UNESCO of this independent Commission is the result of a worldwide process of consultation and analysis over a period of three years. It closes with an emphatic plea for more resources to be devoted to education, nationally and internationally, and for invigorating international co-operation in education, with UNESCO as a key player.
Published in 1996 by the United Nations
Scientific and Cultural Organization
7, place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France
© UNESCO 1996
ED - 96/WS/9(E)