United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
47th Session of the International Conference on Education to focus on quality

A growing loss of confidence in education systems and structures and a general perception that students are not learning what they need to cope with today’s societies, provide the backdrop for the 47th session of the International Conference on Education (ICE), which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland, from September 8-11* on the theme “Quality education for all young people: Challenges, Trends and Priorities”.

The conference, which is organized periodically by UNESCO’s Geneva-based International Bureau of Education (IBE), will be attended by some 100 education ministers along with several hundred education experts and representatives from non-governmental and inter-governmental and professional organizations and civil society, involved in education. Their main objective will be to look at ways of reforming education - especially secondary education - and adapting it to the individual and collective needs of young people, and to the socio-economic realities of the 21st century.

“Secondary education must be redefined, renewed and improved so that it can satisfy functions such as preparing students, both formally and informally, for higher education, for the world of work and for their future role as active citizens,” declared UNESCO Director-General Koďchiro Matsuura.

A report prepared for the conference indicates that at present, half the world’s population is less than 25 years of age, the largest generation of young people ever known. More than a billion of those aged between 15 and 24 live in the Least developed Countries. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that by 2020, 87 percent of the world’s young people will live in developing nations. Developed countries for their part, will be faced with the demographic challenge of an ever-aging population.

The report points to the well-documented link between the level of education and development. It also acknowledges the social changes experienced around the world over the past two decades, which have caused “a relatively widespread feeling that the level of achievement made by the beneficiaries of secondary education in all regions of the world has declined.” While recognizing that the educational community as a whole believes that a far-reaching reform of secondary education is needed across the planet, it also points to the difficulties of implementing change, noting that “the inertia of educational models remains very strong.”

The Conference will be structured around workshops on four aspects of quality education: gender equality; social inclusion; competencies for life; and the role of teachers. A final debate, chaired by Mr Matsuura, will discuss Promoting Partnerships for the right to a quality education for all young people.

Two preparatory seminars will be held immediately prior to the ICE. The first (September 5-7, Chateau Bogis-Bossey, 15 km north-east of Geneva), will address the question of “Secondary education on a global scale: assessments and perspectives.”

The second, (September 7, Geneva International Conference Centre), will focus on HIV/AIDS Prevention Education. Statistics published this year by UNAIDS show that, globally, over half of recent HIV/AIDS infections have affected young people aged between 15 and 24. In many developing countries, over 30 percent of these people have reported that they had their first sexual relations at the age of 15. Participants will include Peter Piot, the Director-General of UNAIDS and over 70 high-level political representatives, technical experts and national specialists.

*. The ICE will be held at the Geneva International Conference Centre (CIGC) The 47th Session of the International Conference on Education is being held at: International Conference Centre of Geneva (CICG), 15, rue de Varembé, 1020 Geneva, Switzerland. Journalists wishing to attend will be able to register at the CIGC entrance from 9.00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 7 onwards.

A press conference to present the conference and its objectives will be held on September 7, 2004 at 11.30 in Room III of the Palace of Nations in Geneva, with Charles Beer, President of the Geneva Canton’s Department of Public Education, Aicha Bah Diallo, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education, and Cecilia Braslavsky, Director of UNESCO International Bureau of Education.

For further details on the ICE, including the full programme, side events, working documents and messages of support from over 100 education ministers:

Source Press release N°2004-75
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Editorial Contact:
  • In Geneva: Luis Vázquez, International Bureau of Education, tel: +41 (22) 817 78 27, or (mobile) +41 (0)79 436 95 84, email: luis.vazquez@ibe.unesco.org
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  • - Email s.williams@unesco.org
    Publication Date 31 Aug 2004
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