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Reflections from UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education

  • By Dr. Qian Tang
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  • 25/09/ 2016
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I am really pleased to introduce this overview of the IBE’s work during 2015, a year that marks the 90th anniversary of the Bureau. Since its foundation in December 1925 and the adoption in 1929 of new statutes extending membership to governments, the IBE has played a prominent role in the field of education.

I would just like to recall that over many decades the International Conference on Education (ICE) organized by the IBE, since 1934, and later with UNESCO (since 1946), has served to discuss and set the international agenda for education. The ICE produced recommendations and informed global policy and practice on issues that are still relevant today: compulsory education, literacy and lifelong learning; education for international understanding; equality of education opportunities; access of women to education; and inclusive education, to mention a few. And after becoming an integral part of UNESCO in 1969, the IBE has contributed significantly to the objectives of the Education Sector, particularly in the areas of education content, educational information and documentation, comparative education and education research.

I take note, with satisfaction, of the IBE’s recent progress in revising its governance structure and programmatic work in order to strengthen its role as UNESCO’s global CoE in curriculum and related matters, a mandate which is unique within the UN family. The curriculum defines what learners are expected to know and be able to do, and what they are to become in an increasingly complex and fast-changing world. All countries face the challenge of ensuring that citizens of tomorrow are equipped with the knowledge, skills and values needed to live in their world and make it more just.

The Incheon Declaration calls for addressing disparities and inequalities in learning outcomes, mainstreaming gender issues, democratizing learning opportunities and ensuring the acquisition of foundational skills as well as the competencies that enable citizens to live fulfilled lives and respond to local and global challenges. All of this requires a focus on curriculum as an effective tool for improving quality and ensuring that education contributes to holistic, inclusive and sustainable development.

I am therefore convinced that, given its accumulated experience, specialist knowledge and core programs in the field of CLA, the IBE has a key role to play in the implementation of the global Education 2030 Agenda and that it is uniquely positioned to support Member States in their efforts to introduce innovative approaches to the processes of curriculum design and reform that aim to ensure effective learning opportunities for all.