|Educational Innovation and Information - Number 104 (IBE, 2000, 8 p.)|
The phenomenon of globalization - resulting not only from greater integration on a planetary scale of the economic and financial sectors, but also from the major advances in modern information and communication technologies - has had an impact on societies and their education systems. Beyond the growth and consolidation of regional entities and the unprecedented growth of huge multinational enterprises, the world is witnessing a disintegration of its social cohesion.
The time has clearly come when globalization should be accompanied by a social conception in which education will play a vital role in bringing together hearts and minds, a welding that goes beyond the traffic of commerce, economics and finance. Peaceful co-existence also implies the sharing of knowledge and possessions. The gulf between the rich and the poor, between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' - between those who have access to knowledge and those who do not yet - is in no way fixed for all time. And here is the challenge for education: to transmit, on the one hand, knowledge and know-how, and on the other to teach children to live together in peace and harmony, respecting both interdependence and cultural differences.
The year 2001, proclaimed as the United Nations Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, follows on from the International Year for the Culture of Peace. Dialogue means accepting the diversity of partners and respecting the freedom of each culture to safeguard its characteristics, while learning and gaining from the experience of others. In a world where perhaps too much emphasis is placed on individualism and competition - the watchwords of unrestrained economic liberalism - we should not lose sight of our responsibility of living in peaceful coexistence with other groups or persons.
One of the major problems of the past decade has been a greater resort to violence at all levels and in numerous domains: the family, the school, the local community, etc. UNESCO and the IBE have already turned their attention to the serious problem of violence at school. 'Learning to live together' also includes the art of resolving conflict through peaceful means. The questions that we may ask ourselves concern not only the content of education but also the context in which teaching takes place. Is it not already understood that the school should be focused on the needs of the learner and that the learner should be actively involved in his/her learning, as has been emphasized by the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century? How can we use the right to education to promote the peaceful resolution of conflicts at school? How can we ensure the flow of learning between what is acquired inside and what outside the school? Finding answers to these questions would seem to be a matter of considerable urgency.
It is therefore desirable that the International Conference on Education (ICE) in 2001 pays special attention and finds a way of focusing exchanges and discussions on the capacity and limits of education to contribute to learning about the content, practices and values of living together. On this subject, the ICE will turn its attention on restraining violence and improving the quality of life for all throughout the world. This will involve a new vision - a global vision - of education and of the links between education, culture and society in a world that is both globalized and fragmented into separate communities. It is encouraging to note that the Executive Board of UNESCO has recently stressed the following strategic priorities:
(a) encourage basic education, including literacy, in the light of the demographic and social challenges facing humanity, so as to reach the unreached and to prepare for future generations;
(b) develop educational policies and strategies that enable lifelong learning, caring for one another, and providing to all peoples the capacities to utilize their natural skills and creativity to fully contribute to and participate in an evolving knowledge-driven world;
(c) promote at all levels of education a culture of peace and intercultural understanding - e.g. human rights, democracy, tolerance, mutual respect and solidarity.
The IBE is seeking active partners in ensuring the success of the forty-sixth session of the ICE. If you would like to participate in the preparatory activities or to make a contribution to the Conference's debates, please contact:
By mail: The Director, IBE, P.O. Box 199, 1211 GENEVA 20,
By fax: (+41-22) 917.78.01
By e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org