47th Session of International Education Conference closes in GenevaGeneva - Delegates from more than 135 countries attending the 47th Session of the International Conference on Education have identified a range of priority actions aimed at improving the quality of education for all young people and appealed for the mobilization of all partners in order to achieve this goal. “Quality education for all young people: challenges, trends and priorities” was the theme of this session of the conference, organized periodically by UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education in Geneva.
A “message” adopted by the participants at the close of the conference on Saturday, September 11, reaffirmed the “crucial importance of education for (…) national development policies”. The message stressed the need to help young people to “confront an increasingly complex world characterized, in particular, by the challenges of humanizing globalization, by the important role of information and knowledge as factors of production and of development, by the increasing scale of population movements, by the marginalization of many social groups, as well as by the exacerbation of inequalities and poverty both among and within countries.”
The participants agreed that achieving this and providing education that is more appropriate in a rapidly changing and unpredictable world require several important challenges to be addressed, not the least of which are the sheer numbers of young people concerned.
The world has the largest generation of young people ever, with more than one billion aged between 12 and 20. In 2020, 87 percent of young people in the world will live in developing countries, where today they are already the majority. And while the number of enrolments at secondary school level in the world has multiplied tenfold over the last 50 years, huge numbers of young people - especially girls - still do not get the chance to complete primary school.
In many countries, the participants pointed out, “the educational needs of young people are not always a priority, mainly due to economic, cultural and social reasons” and effective alliances for quality education “are not sufficiently mobilised among students, teachers, parents, local communities, civil society, media, economic enterprises, the global community and other stakeholders.”
Among the priority actions identified by the delegates were: the increased use of information and communication technology to improve access and equity for all young people to quality education; emphasis on innovating and creating, including the reform of educational delivery; affirmative action to compensate gender imbalance; recognition of the importance of teachers and trainers; increase research; and improved use of resources and better partnerships.
Quality education today, concluded UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura at the closing ceremony, must “assist young people to acquire the attitudes and competencies of what might be called the ‘democratic mind’. There is room in such a mind for stable and
enduring values such as tolerance, solidarity, mutual understanding and respect for human rights (…) such a mind needs to be flexible and adaptable, capable of analysing and understanding different perspectives but also able to build and re-build a coherent outlook. Such mindsets cannot be generated by traditional approaches focused on academic content and rigid teaching methods.”
The First Lady of Qatar, Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, who is the UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education, also attended the closing ceremony of the conference.
“It is clear,” the Sheikha said, “that quality education involves all sectors of society, not merely the education sector, and that quality educational institutions can only arise out of a culture of quality. This culture needs to be rooted firmly in the values, beliefs and behaviours of our citizens.”
For more information on the work of the conference and the complete text of the Message of the 47th Session go to: www.ibe.unesco.org