Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development

UNESCO’s Director-General and Assistant Director-General for Education have announced that the "World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development – Moving into the Second Half of the UN Decade” will be held in Bonn, Germany, from 31 March to 2 April 2009.

Some 700 stakeholders from all over the world will attend the conference, which is being organized by UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO.

Registration will begin in November 2008

U.S. Based organization Curriki receives UNESCO’s 2007 King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize

The Global Education and Learning Community (Curriki) was one of two recipients of the the 2007 King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize in a ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on Wednesday, 19 December 2007. Curriki Executive Director Barbara Kurshan attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of Curriki. United States Deputy Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Stephen Engelken was also present at the ceremony.

Curriki is an online environment created to support the development and free distribution of world-class educational materials to anyone who needs them. Curriki is different from other e-learning sites in that it focuses on complete curricula and not just a textbook or lesson plans, and provides easy-to-use tools for creating curriculum packets out of content available on the site. The 10,000 learning resources available on Curriki are used regularly by 35,000 people. Current offerings range from lesson plans, assessments and media clips to complete textbooks, all available at no cost.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The Belgian Claroline Project (Claroline Consortium) and the US-based Global Education and Learning Community (Curriki) are the co-winners of the 2007 Unesco-King Hamad Award for best use of information and telecommunications in education.

Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Endurance Federation president and Royal Charity Foundation board of trustees' chairman Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa will today present the $50,000 (BD18,745) award on behalf of His Majesty King Hamad.

UNESCO and HP Sign Strategic Partnership Agreement

UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard (HP) signed a strategic partnership agreement on 19 December to strengthen their collaboration around existing education projects. The signing ceremony, held at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, was attended by Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General and Gabriele Zedlmayer, vice president, Global Citizenship HP Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Through the partnership, UNESCO and HP will work together on several projects in the area of education, especially to support UNESCO’s priority of “Education for All". This includes an evaluation on the extension of the existing brain drain project to additional regions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. UNESCO and HP started to collaborate five years ago in South East Europe to help key universities connect to global research networks. In 2006 the project was extended to Africa. The project fights brain drain by providing universities with an advanced technology called grid computing, which allows top quality researchers to play a key role in international research and contribute to economic development in their home countries.

Another project is the World Heritage Map, which enables the general public to visualize the spread of World Heritage sites around the globe, and raises the awareness of the World Heritage Convention. The map is above all an educational tool, allowing UNESCO to communicate its work in this field on a large scale.

In addition HP has provided a financial contribution to UNESCO for the “Printing and distribution of the Man and the Biosphere Map”. The Man and the Biosphere Map will be fully prepared and edited by the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of UNESCO, which will provide the full lay-out to HP for printing and distribution.

The Computer recycling training guide is also the fruit of UNESCO and HP cooperation: it aims to support local stakeholders, in developing countries in particular, to manage electronic waste. The goal is to support local actors, especially those with a background in managing used computer equipment, and to create environmentally clean and healthy business opportunities. HP is the only technology partner in the project, which also includes the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management (Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie - ADEME), EMMAUS, the international movement of solidarity, and TIC ETHIC, Information and Communication Technologies in the service of ethics and sustainable development.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Athelstan Spilhaus: First U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO

The new highlight on the website of Americans for UNESCO begins a series on the pioneers in the creation of the organization and on the establishment of linkages between the United States and UNESCO.

The first person to be profiled is Athelstan Spilhaus, a distinguished scientist, inventor, educator, and popularizer of science who was the first U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO and who served on its Executive Board. Late in his life, when he accurately described himself as a "retired genius", he established a world class collection of more than 3,000 mechanical toys.


The Bureau of Public Information of UNESCO publishes a series of memos, called Memobpi. Here are links to a few of them:

A commitment to peace implies a way of resolving conflicts, not according to the force of might, but by respecting internationally accepted norms, the rule of law and negotiation, with the aim of achieving a fullness of life for each and every one. By its Constitution, UNESCO is called upon to “build the defenses of peace in the minds of men.”
Distance learning
Open and distance learning is one of the most rapidly growing fields of education. It is fast becoming an accepted and indispensable part of the mainstream of educational systems in both developed and developing countries, with particular emphasis for the latter.
Open content: Towards equal learning opportunities?
The number of open collaborative technologies has exploded over the last years. What impact have they had on access to and quality of education worldwide? Can developing countries afford these expensive technologies and thus avoid remaining on the sidelines of the digital revolution? What about copyright issues? What role for UNESCO?
UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme: Towards New Strategic Orientations and New Tools.
UNITWIN which is the abbreviation for university twinning and networking, was launched in 1991, as an international plan of action aimed at strengthening training and research through inter-university co-operation, with particular emphasis on support to higher education in developing countries, more importantly, in the least developed ones.

Friday, December 14, 2007

IITB designated as “Knowledge Heritage Centre”

The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) was designated a “Knowledge Heritage Center” by UNESCO,s New Delhi Office on the occasion of IITB’s Golden Jubilee.

IITB was originally established with the cooperation and participation of UNESCO, and over the past 50 years it has grown to be an institution not only of national but of international importance. It is a leader in higher education, research and training in India, Asia, and indeed worldwide.

The historical role of UNESCO in helping to create IITB is an indication of the role that it has played in the past, and that it can play in the future.

Editorial Comment: I was very impressed by Media Lab Asia, a collaboration between MIT and IITB, and was sad when it failed to find funding to continue. I also had the opportunity to visit IITB with a team from the World Bank and the Development Gateway. IITB was a member of the Development Gateway's Research and Training network. I saw demonstrations of many fine projects that were implemented by IITB in its role as an Indian member of that network.

Of course, many graduates of IITB are important contributors to India's software industry, and indeed many have immigrated to Silicon Valley and other U.S. centers helping to create the Information Revolution in this country. Indeed, it is suggested (only partially in jest) that the best high school graduates in India, concerned by the extraordinary competitiveness of entry into IITB, apply to MIT and Cal Tech as "back up schools".

Perhaps the United States Permanent Delegation to UNESCO should recommend that the organization create a global network of "Knowledge Heritage Centers" in the great institutions of higher education in the world. JAD

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Review of UNESCO’s Capacity-Building Function

A review was completed last February or UNESCO’s experience in capacity building and of the international research on capacity building to answer the following questions:
  1. What have UNESCO and others learned about the most effective approaches to capacity building?
  2. What should UNESCO’s role in capacity building be (given UN reforms that emphasize country-led, comprehensive development strategies and collaboration among donor agencies)?
  3. What needs to change within UNESCO in order to do a better job of capacity building?
The purpose of this review was to inform UNESCO's senior management about good practices in capacity-building and to enable UNESCO's Secretariat to improve their capacity-building interventions.

A key finding of the review was:
Most UNESCO staff members interviewed recognize that capacity building needs to get beyond conventional inputs, such as training and technical assistance, in order to bring about sustainable change within institutions. However, much of the Organization’s programming begins and ends there.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education for All

A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education for All is a joint UNESCO and UNICEF publication. It provides a framework for the realization of children’s right to education and rights within education.

The report brings together the current thinking and practice on human rights-based approach in the education sector, presenting key issues and challenges in rights-based approaches and providing a framework for policy and program development from the level of the school up to the national and international levels.

UNESCO at GK3 in Kuala Lumpur: Towards building knowledge societies

The Global Knowledge Partnership's GK3 is a unique gathering of 2,000 global visionaries, innovators, practitioners and policy makers, all geared to sharing knowledge and building partnerships on a platform created by and for stakeholders from every sector - private companies, governments, international institutions and civil society groups.

UNESCO is participating
actively in the Third Global Knowledge Conference (GK3) from 11 to 13 December 2007 and in its parallel events and exhibits. UNESCO has set up an onsite Community Multimedia Centre (CMC) and an exhibition promoting the concept of CMC in building knowledge societies at the Kuala Lumpur Conventional Center.

Here are a couple of videos from GK3:

Robotics program from the Omar Dengo Foundation in Costa Rica

i4d film festival: Viirtual village

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Office of Director General of UNESCO

Luther H. Evans
The only U.S. citizen to be
elected Director General

The Director General is the chief executive officer of UNESCO. The DG's term of office is four years (previously six years), and the Director General is elected by the General Conference. The current Director General, Koïchiro Matsuura, has been in office since 1999. He was reelected to that post by the 33rd General Conference of UNESCO in 2005. Thus there is some speculation as the election of his successor in 2009.

There have been nine Directors General since UNESCO was founded in 1946:
  • Koïchiro Matsuura from Asia
  • Four from Europe: Federico Mayor (1987 - 1999), René Maheu (1962 - 1974; acting 1959, 1961-1962), Vittorino Veronese (1958 - 1961), and Julian Huxley (1946 - 1948)
  • Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow from Africa
  • Three from North America: Luther Evans (1953 - 1958). John W. Taylor (Acting DG 1952 - 1953), and Jaime Torres Bodet (1948 - 1952)
The position of Director General of UNESCO is an important one within the system of intergovernmental organizations. Therefore the election of a new Director General is the subject not only of electioneering by individual candidates, but also diplomatic negotiations among member nations.

There is an informal understanding that the post should rotate among the (193) member nations of UNESCO, and indeed among continents and groups of nations. Moreover, there are informal understandings about the need to distribute leadership of UN family organizations among nations. (The situation is somewhat different in international financial institutions, programs of the United Nations such as the UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, and organizations with their own general assemblies such as UNESCO, WHO, and FAO.)

The Islamic nations, which form a large cultural block with significant voting power in United Nations bodies, may see their opportunity in the next General Conference to elect one of their citizens to the post of Director General. You can be sure that State Department diplomats are already debating possible candidates and consulting with their counterparts in other delegations to UNESCO.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Two Foreign Policy Experts Recommend Smart Power

Reference: "Stop Getting Mad, America. Get Smart." By Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye Jr., The Washington Post Sunday Outlook, December 9, 2007.

Richard L. Armitage was deputy secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. Joseph S. Nye Jr., a former assistant secretary of defense, teaches political science at Harvard. They co-chaired the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Commission on Smart Power.

They write:
The world is dissatisfied with American leadership. Shocked and frightened after 9/11, we put forward an angry face to the globe, not one that reflected the more traditional American values of hope and optimism, tolerance and opportunity. This fearful approach has hurt the United States' ability to bring allies to its cause, but it is not too late to change. The nation should embrace a smarter strategy that blends our "hard" and "soft" power -- our ability to attract and persuade, as well as our ability to use economic and military might......the United States needs a broader, more balanced approach (than it has been employing).....

when our words do not match our actions, we demean our character and moral standing. We cannot lecture others about democracy while we back dictators. We cannot denounce torture and waterboarding in other countries and condone it at home. We cannot allow Cuba's Guantanamo Bay or Iraq's Abu Ghraib to become the symbols of American power.......

In a changing world, the United States should become a smarter power by once again investing in the global good -- by providing things that people and governments want but cannot attain without U.S. leadership. By complementing U.S. military and economic strength with greater investments in soft power, Washington can build the framework to tackle tough global challenges. We call this smart power.

Smart power is not about getting the world to like us. It is about developing a strategy that balances our hard (coercive) power with our soft (attractive) power. During the Cold War, the United States deterred Soviet aggression through investments in hard power. But as Gates noted late last month, U.S. leaders also realized that "the nature of the conflict required us to develop key capabilities and institutions -- many of them non-military." So the United States used its soft power to rebuild Europe and Japan and to establish the norms and institutions that became the core of the international order for the past half-century. The Cold War ended under a barrage of hammers on the Berlin Wall rather than a barrage of artillery across the Fulda Gap precisely because of this integrated approach.

Specifically, the United States should renew its focus on five critical areas:
  • We should reinvigorate the alliances, partnerships and institutions that allow us to address numerous hazards at once without having to build a consensus from scratch to respond to every new challenge.
  • We should create a Cabinet-level voice for global development to help Washington develop a more unified and integrated aid program that aligns U.S. interests with the aspirations of people worldwide, starting with global health.
  • We should reinvest in public diplomacy within the government and establish a nonprofit institution outside of it to build people-to-people ties, including doubling the annual appropriation to the Fulbright program.
  • We should sustain our engagement with the global economy by negotiating a "free trade core" of countries in the World Trade Organization willing to move directly to free trade on a global basis, and expand the benefits of free trade to include those left behind at home and abroad.
  • We should take the lead in addressing climate change and energy insecurity by investing more in technology and innovation.
Editorial Comment. This is a very important recommendation. If the next administration decides to adopt a "smart power" policy, UNESCO should be a key instrument of that policy. No organization is better placed on which to build a consortium of like minded nations, and to practice public diplomacy that listens as well as lectures! JAD

Education Report -- Progress has been made, but much more needs to be done!

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report for 2008 has just been released by UNESCO. Progress in this decade has been better than in the last, but many countries are still lagging in achieving the EFA goals; more needs to be done.

The number of children starting primary school has increased sharply since 2000, there are more girls in school than ever before and spending on education and aid has risen. That’s the good news. But on the down side, poor quality, the high cost of schooling and persisting high levels of adult illiteracy are undermining the chances of achieving education for all* by 2015.

Especially hopeful are the findings that primary school enrollment increased by 36% in sub-Saharan Africa and 22% in South and West Asia between 1999 and 2005. Governments in 14 countries abolished primary school tuition fees, a measure that has favoured access for the most disadvantaged. Worldwide, the number of out-of-school children dropped sharply from 96 million in 1999 to 72 million in 2005.

High Level Meeting on Education for All

Seventh Meeting of the High-Level Group on Education for All
Dakar, Senegal
11-13 December 2007

In the year 2000, the International Community gave itself 15 years to achieve the EFA and UN development goals. This year, the High-Level Group on EFA (HLG) will meet at the midpoint along that time-line.

Three Heads of State, Ministers of Education from 15 countries, representatives of the main donor countries, multilateral organizations, representatives of civil society and the private sector are to meet from 11 to 13 December in Dakar (Senegal) to examine the different means of accelerating progress towards the Education for All (EFA) goals, which were set by 164 countries in Dakar in 2000.

The opening ceremony will be chaired by the Senegalese head of state Abdoulaye Wade, and Mali’s President Amadou Toumani Touré will address the conference at the opening.

The HLG is to place special focus on three areas – equity, quality and financing of education – as top policy priorities for the coming year. In addition, it will address the special concerns of countries facing conditions of fragility as well as relatively neglected EFA goals with a view to ensuring a holistic and balanced approach to the full EFA agenda.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service

UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service (IOS), established in 2001, provides consolidated oversight covering internal audit, evaluation, investigation and other management support to strengthen the functioning of the Organization. The IOS website provides links to recent evaluations, as well as guidance for evaluations, and links to evaluation resources.

Some examples are:

UNESCO's 21st Century Talks

The 21st-Century Talks are forums for prospective reflection and future oriented debate that gather together leading figures from different regions of the world. Together with the UNESCO's World Reports they form UNESCO’s Foresight and Anticipation Program.

The Talks are used as the basis for books, articles in leading newspapers and academic journals of different regions of the world, and production of radio and television programs.

Over the period 1999-2005, 27 “21st Century Talks and Dialogs” were organised. There were 118 speeches by 95 different speakers in the series. The three “Dialogues” gathered more speakers (particularly in Seoul with 23 speakers) than the “Talks” with only three or four. “Talks” were organised at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Barcelona, Durban and Seoul.

As a result of the program, three books – and a total of 21 translated versions - were published.
There is specific information on many of the talks available from the UNESCO website.

An evaluation of UNESCO's Foresight program was published in 2006.
The evaluation report notes:
The activities of the Foresight and Anticipation Program had major support from UNESCO Member States. The “21st Century Talks and Dialogs” are viewed as having dealt with crucial issues for the future which were debated by a highly competent and diverse set of specialists who contributed highly relevant analyses. Member State representatives appreciated the foresight effort made by UNESCO. There is general agreement that Foresight and Anticipation are major missions of UNESCO.

"Midway to the 2015 target date: meeting of the High Level Group on Education for All in Dakar"

Read the full article on the African Press Organization website.

'Three Heads of State, Ministers of Education from 15 countries, representatives of the main donor countries, multilateral organizations, representatives of civil society and the private sector will meet from 11 to 13 December in Dakar (Senegal) to examine the different means of accelerating progress towards the six goals of Education for All (EFA) set by 164 countries in Dakar in 2000.

"The president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade, and the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, will open the meeting chaired by Senegal’s Minister of Education, Moustafa Sourang. During the opening ceremony, the president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, will also give a keynote speech.

"The seventh annual meeting of the High Level Group on Education for All is taking place at the halfway point to 2015, which is the target date 164 countries have set to achieve the six EFA goals. According to the 2008 edition of the Global Monitoring Report on Education for All, which has just been released, the number of children, especially girls, starting primary school has increased sharply, but the poor quality of education, the high cost of schooling and the high level of adult illiteracy are
undermining chances of achieving education for all by 2015."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Eleanor Roosevelt on UNESCO

In 1961, in her newspaper column "My Day" wrote:

We should work very closely with the United Nations body called UNESCO in our efforts to gain not only the maximum understanding of our own educational needs but also the understanding of what the world needs. UNESCO has the duty to promote education about the U.N. and a mutual international understanding between peoples. Our own educational objectives must be formed with the idea of making us better able to understand other areas of the world and more able to help in their struggles for development.

For 10 years now UNESCO has published a magazine called "The UNESCO Courier." This magazine is devoted entirely to portraying the customs, the arts, the cultures and the peoples of the earth. It has some 300,000 subscribers throughout the world, but in the U.S. the magazine is hardly known. Circulation here is only 10,000, whereas even in Russia it has 25,000 subscribers.

No college or school in their country can really afford to be without "The UNESCO Courier," and I feel sure that once we have succeeded in having it in our libraries, schools and colleges that families all over the nation will feel the need to have it in their homes.
Comment: Today, through technological advances, you can read The UNESCO Courier online or subscribe via email for free. JAD

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

UNESCO Policy Brief on Early Childhood

The results from the OECD Thematic Review of Early Childhood Education and Care Policy from 1998 to 2006 can be consulted in Issue No. 41 of the UNESCO Policy Brief on Early Childhood series.

Other recent publications on Early Childhood Care and Education include the Policy Review Report: Early Childhood Care and Education in Brazil” (2007) and the Summary Report of the UNESCO/OECD Early Childhood Policy Review Project for Brazil, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Kenya (2007).

Related links

60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

© UNESCO/Ivaldo Alves

Celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will be launched at UNESCO on 10 December, Human Rights Day. Events commemorating the anniversary will take place over the next year, until 10 December 2008.

The 60th anniversary provides an opportunity to mobilize the whole of the United Nations and to evaluate progress in respecting and promoting human rights. UNESCO will take this opportunity to assess the situation of rights in its fields of competence. UNESCO is planning two international conferences on the subject in 2008: one on human rights education, the other on human rights in the Organization’s other fields of competence. In addition, the 61st International Conference of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which will be organized at UNESCO in September 2008, in partnership with the United Nations Department of Public Information, will focus on the celebration of the Universal Declaration’s 60th anniversary.

The Magic Planet

As a reminder of the importance of outreach and education in enhancing S&T goals, Ambassador Oliver invited the developers of the Magic Planet digital video globe - Global Imagination - to display a portable version of the globe and associated control panel at a reception held by the Permanent Delegation of the United States to UNESCO. The reception was held in conjunction with the General Conference. A larger version of the Magic Planet was used by NOAA and NASA presenters during the Planet Earth: Space to Place exhibit at UNESCO during the Conference. In a hands-on mode, many of the reception’s guests were able change display global datasets ranging from water temperature to population shifts. In an example of public-private-partnership, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO worked closely with Global Imagination on the presentation.

Here is a short video of Magic Planet.

First Lady Further Supports UNESCO's Literacy Drive

First Lady Laura Bush Addressed the UNESCO Literacy Conference in New Delhi, India

A delegation of representatives from the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and the U.S. Department of Education traveled to New Delhi, India for the UNESCO Regional Literacy Conference held from November 29 to 30, 2007. The delegation joined representatives from throughout the Indian Sub Continent, South and South West Asia as well as senior representatives of UNESCO and other international and regional organizations at the conference, entitled "Addressing Literacy Challenges in South, South-West and Central Asia: Building Partnerships and Promoting Innovative Approaches". The conference was hosted by the Government of India in conjunction with UNESCO and opened by Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi.

10 December 2005 - Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December to mark the anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Also in celebration of Human Rights Day:

International Human Rights Day

Symposium and Working Meeting

Rights and Responsibilities: Scientific Associations and International Human Rights Norms

Hosted by

AAAS Science and Human Rights Program

Monday, 10 December 2007
2:00 pm - 5:15 pm
AAAS Headquarters,
1200 New York Avenue, NW, Washington, DC

"U.S. Teens Trail Peers Around World on Math-Science Test"

Read the article by Maria Glod in The Washington Post, December 5, 2007.

Glod writes:
The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries.

Design of an Emblem for Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention

Design of an Emblem for Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention

UNESCO is now announcing a competition for the design of an emblem that best reflects the purposes and spirit of the Convention to give greater visibility to intangible heritage and its safeguarding.

UNESCO invites entries from professional and amateur graphic designers, artists, and practitioners of intangible cultural heritage from all its Member States. Each participant may submit a single design, including a black and white and a colour version.

The deadline for submissions to reach UNESCO is 15 February 2008.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Index Translationum

The Index Translationum is a list of books translated in the world, i.e. an international bibliography of translations. The Index Translationum was created in 1932. It celebrates this year its 75th anniversary.

The Index' database contains cumulative bibliographical information on books translated and published in about one hundred of the UNESCO Member States since 1979 and totalling more than 1.700,000 entries in all disciplines: literature, social and human sciences, natural and exact sciences, art, history and so forth.

Among the most translated authors are found, in no particular order, Walt Disney Productions, Agatha Christie, Jules Verne, Lenin and Shakespeare. Consulting the available data, it can be noted that the most translated languages in the world are English, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. In the other direction, Japanese is among the languages most translated into; it is listed in fifth position after German, Spanish, French and English, before Dutch and Portuguese. Finally, Germany, Spain, France and Japan are the countries that translate the most.

Annotated bibliography on education and conflict

A man removes a bloodied schoolbook at a school gate in a mostly Sunni area of western Baghdad
Source: Firas Durri: Enthusiast (blog)

Annotated bibliography on education and conflict
Background paper prepared for the
Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2008
Rüdiger Blumör, Nora v. Buttlar
UNESCO, 2007. (PDF, 97 pages)
Publ: 2007; 2008/ED/EFA/MRT/PI/77.

This bibliography contains a selection of publications that deal with the topic of education and conflict, in the form of political and/or violent/ armed conflict. Publications looking at conflict/conflict management in education (e.g. in schools) have not been included.

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier

© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
UNESCO campaign «Send my friend to school» (2005). Work by Tara Badcock (Australia)

1990 : The Education for All (EFA) campaign is launched in Jomtien (Thailand). The international community pledges to provide quality basic education to all children, youths and adults.

2000 :In Dakar, Senegal, more than 160 governments set six goals to be reached no later than 2015. The goals concern early childhood education, primary school, life skills, adult literacy, gender parity and quality education.

2007:“We are halfway there and we have good reason to be optimistic,” says, in this issue of the UNESCO Courier, Nicholas Burnett, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education and director of the just-launched 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report. Troublesome areas remain nonetheless, notably early childhood education, gender parity and adult literacy.

EFA Report has now been issued


Just released!

The Report in 10 questions

There is a very helpful three minute video with the key results from the report. It features Nicholas Burnett, director of the staff that prepared the 2008 report and now the new assistant director-general for education of UNESCO.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

UNESCO photo contest on The Changing Face of the Earth

UNESCO photo contest on

The Changing Face of the Earth

UNESCO’s International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) is running a photo contest on the theme of The Changing Face of the Earth, to raise awareness among youth of the state of the planet. There are several cameras and 40 book prizes to be won. Entries close on 30 June 2008.

Contestants may enter in either of the categories:
  • 15-20 year olds and
  • contestants aged 21 years and over.
Each winning contestant will receive a copy of two UNESCO books: Explaining the Earth and The Changing Face of the Earth. In addition, the best entries in each category will win a camera. The names of the winning contestants will be announced in the October 2008 issue of A World of Science and on UNESCO’s science portal.

Photos can be entered in any of ten categories:
  1. Soil – Earth's living skin, Planet Earth in our hands
  2. Groundwater – towards sustainable use
  3. Hazards – minimizing risk, maximizing awards
  4. Earth and health – building a safer environment
  5. Climate change – the ‘stone tape’
  6. Resource issues – towards sustainable use
  7. Megacities – going deeper, building safer
  8. Deep Earth – from crust to core
  9. Ocean – abyss of time
  10. Earth and life – the origins of diversity
Read more about the contest.

The Global Education Digest 2007

The Global Education Digest 2007 presents the latest education statistics from primary to tertiary levels in more than 200 countries. This edition focuses on the financing of education and provides a series of indicators to compare spending patterns across countries and levels of education.

The education budget of a single country like France, Germany, Italy or the United Kingdom outweighs education spending across the entire sub-Saharan African region, according to this report from the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS). Governments in sub-Saharan Africa spend only 2.4% of the world’s public education resources. Yet about 15% of the school-age population lives in these countries, according to the Digest. In contrast, the United States, which is home to just 4% of the world’s children and young people, spends 28% of the global education budget. This is mainly due to the large numbers of university students and the relatively high costs associated with this level of education.

21st Century Dialogues: “Making Peace with the Earth”

“Making Peace with the Earth” was the theme of the a session of 21st Century Dialogues, which brought five eminent personalities - Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Hubert Reeves, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Luisa Molina and Mathis Wackernagel - to UNESCO on the 26th of November.

The session was organized around the launch of the book “Making Peace with the Earth”, third anthology of the 21st Century Dialogues, just published in French, English, Spanish and Catalan by UNESCO. In the book, seventeen experts, politicians, scientists and thinkers formulate their answers to the questions:
  • What is the future of the planet?
  • What is in store for humanity?

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day

1 December 2007

We must continue to intensify our efforts, adapt our actions to the epidemiological and social situations on the ground, and mobilize sufficient financial resources for the AIDS response in the time to come. I pledge UNESCO’s firm commitment to fulfilling its role [of leadership] in the global response to HIV and AIDS."

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Launch of the 2008 edition

Education for All by 2015:
Will we make it?

This report assesses progress towards the six education for all goals midway to the target date for achieving them -- 2015;

There have been some real gains since 2000:
  • the number of children starting primary school has increased sharply,
  • there are more girls in school than ever before and
  • spending on education and aid has risen.
But poor quality, the cost of schooling for poor families and high levels of adult illiteracy are militating against the chances of achieving education for all.

The full report is to be released on Thursday. The full report, regional overviews, statistical search tool, background papers, video interviews and UNESCO Courier feature stories are to be on line on 29 November.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Major environmental education conference in India

© UNESCO/Dominique Roger
  • Studying butterflies in France

  • UNESCO co-sponsored the Fourth International Conference on Environmental Education on 24-28 November in Ahmedabad, India. Some 1500 participants are expected.

    Mark Richmond of UNESCO’s Education Sector will deliver a keynote address on behalf of the Director-General on 26 November.

    Read the interview with Peter Woods, an expert on education for sustainability, who represents the Australian Government at Ahmedabad and other international environmental forums.

    Educational governance at local levels

    Educational governance at local levels
    UNESCO, November 2007.

    How can educational governance at local levels enable the empowerment of excluded groups? Two new publications from UNESCO address this and other related questions.

    “Educational governance at local levels: policy paper and evaluation guidelines” includes a policy paper on implementing educational decentralization as well as evaluation guidelines.

    A second, complementary publication, “Educational governance at local levels: modules for capacity building”, provides capacity-building activities in four modules. Both publications can be downloaded from the links below. Printed copies and a CD/ROM are also available on demand.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    How volunteering at Unesco changes lives

    In UNESCO and other international organizations, interns are often welcome to work alongside staff on development programs and special projects. And, fortunately for the agencies, many young people are willing to do just that, offering their time in exchange for experience. So, what drives this motivation, and what challenges and lessons are learned along the way?

    Read the full explanation by Melinda Sung, an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, who was a volunteer in the Culture Unit, Unesco Bangkok. It is published in The Nation (Bangkok).

    Interns have been of great service to Americans for UNESCO, and we are always looking for new volunteers to help with these blogs.

    UNESCO to offer video encyclopaedia on India

    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) has started to publish online a rich video-based encyclopaedia on Indian heritage and culture. It is to be found on a special website -- The collection will soon cover all States and Union Territories, highlighting the cultural diversity,craft and traditional knowledge of each region.

    Read about the initiative:

    As an example of the content, check out the video on Odissi:
    Odissi is the classical dance form which originated in Orissa, an Eastern state in India. Like Bharatanatyam, this classical dance is also centuries old. This enchanting classical dance form of Orissa traces its origin to the temple dances of the Devadasis (temple dancers).

    Sujata Mohapatra is one of the famous Odissi dancers of India. She is the disciple and daughter -in- law of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra.

    The U.S.A. at UNESCO’s 34th General Conference

    UNESCO held its 34th General Conference at its Paris Headquarters from October 16 to November 2, 2007. The General Conference is held every other year, and is the governing body of the organization, The United States fielded a large delegation for the conference, and participated fully in the event.

    Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the U.S. delegation supported by White House Science Advisor, Dr. John H. Marburger, III and National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement..

    The Conference notably adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Holocaust Remembrance” introduced by the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Israel and co-sponsored by 65 other UNESCO member states. The resolution “requests the Director-General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General regarding outreach programs that could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial.”

    Also adopted was a Resolution introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by many African states that urged UNESCO to expedite implementation of the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA).

    The United States Library of Congress chose the General Conference as a platform to launch the World Digital Library project. The project was launched with an exhibit that illustrated how the World Digital Library will operate. Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington hosted a reception for a large number of people at the Conference and the Library of Congress and UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future collaboration on the project.

    Finally, NASA and NOAA provided a special exhibit, a digital video globe displaying various data, called the “Magic Planet,” which was the focal point for a presentation entitled "Observing and Understanding our Globalized World through History, Sciences, Culture, and Communications." This exhibit helped make the overall theme of the General Conference, “Planet Earth: from Space to Place,” a great success.

    International Conference on Women's Leadership for Sustainable Development

    Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
    addresses the Conference

    The conference, a biennial event held by the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, was cosponsored by UNESCO and Mashav (the Foreign Ministry-operated official body for international cooperation).

    UNESCO Deputy Director-General Prof. Marcio Barbosa expressed gratitude to the government of Israel for hosting such a major event and to the eminent women leaders who had participated with such great enthusiasm.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    A Tribute to Rumi

    2007 has been declared the International Year of Rumi.

    No english title - The most popular videos are here

    MUSEUM Intenational N°235

    The new edition of Museum International has been published!

    Table of Contents

    Editorial Isabelle Tillerot

    Chapter I: Alterity and Philosophy of the Collection

    Chapter II: Rethinking Universality

    Americans Favor International Cooperation

    UN Dispatch (November 13, 2007) provides the following information:

    The United Nations Foundation released the results of a major survey of Americans' foreign policy attitudes today. Americans, the poll finds, are virtually unanimous (86% of all voters) in the belief that working with allies and through international organizations is a wiser strategy for achieving America's foreign policy priorities.

    The poll also finds that 73% of all voters are more likely to vote for a candidate for President who understands that "solutions to world problems require international cooperation, whether they are economic problems, environmental problems, or problems of peace and war and that international cooperation is a better way of solving some of the world's key problems."

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    World Heritage Site Videos

    UNESCO's World Heritage Program has certified 851 properties which have outstanding universal value and therefore form part of the mankind's cultural and natural heritage. A large number of short videos of World Heritage sites has been edited and adapted especially by UNESCO for online access.

    School Science and Technology education

    Just published

    UNESCO Resources on School Science and Technology education on CD-Rom

    UNESCO has just released a new CD-ROM with a collection of UNESCO documents on science and technology education at the secondary school level. These ocuments include:

    Literacy, Knowledge and Development

    Literacy, Knowledge and Development

    This just published report (in Spanish as well as English) is subtitled “South-South Policy Dialogue on Quality Education for Adults and Young People”. It contains the presentations made at the conference of that name held in Mexico City in 2005. The articles concern literacy policies as well as basic education and competence recognition.

    While Brazil, India, South Africa and Mexico are singled out as “locomotives of development in the field”, information is also provided on programmes in Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Arab States as a whole.

    The Bush administration has emphasized literacy in its dealings with UNESCO, and held a major conference on literacy in conjunction with the UN Summit in 2006.

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Partnership for Jordan's World Heritage Sites

    The World Heritage Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (WHA) – a membership-based initiative launched in 2005 by the United Nations Foundation and Expedia, Inc. – announced recently a partnership between the Alliance and the Jordanian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities designed to preserve and protect Jordan’s designated UNESCO World Heritage sites while promoting responsible tourism to the country.

    USAID/Siyaha and will implement a program to assist in strengthening the management of Jordan's World Heritage sites, most notably Petra, and launch a public awareness campaign about these sites. In Petra, support will also include a combination of grants to community-based organization and local businesses, training, and development of local tourism projects and activities consistent with World Heritage and sustainable tourism principles. Efforts will also integrate USAID/Siyaha’s work with the Petra National Trust to create a Petra zoning plan.

    Click here to see a two minute long video about Petra.

    The UN Foundation will also support the mission of USAID/Siyaha in various ways, including using its outreach tools to educate travellers and the private sector about the cultural and natural values of Jordanian World Heritage sites.

    (Thank to Annie Belt for passing on this information.)

    Eighth Meeting of the Working Group on Education for All (14 - 16 November 2007)

    The Eighth Meeting of the Working Group on EFA came at the crucial midway point along the time-line to 2015. Despite significant advances over the past seven years, it is clear that progress must be accelerated if the six EFA Goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be reached by 2015. It is in this perspective that the sequence of key annual EFA events has been reorganized, and adjustments made to the linkages between them as well as to working methods and expected outcomes.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2007

    An appeal to stop illicit trafficking of Iraqi cultural property

    The International Coordination Committee for the Safeguarding of Iraqi Cultural Heritage, which met at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 13 and 14 November, ended with an appeal to the international community to help stop illicit excavations, pillaging and trafficking of Iraqi cultural property.

    The Committee brings together some 20 international experts on Iraqi cultural heritage and is chaired by Iraq’s Senior Deputy Minister of Culture, Jaber Mohammad Abbas Al-Jaberi. It recommended, among other measures: to facilitate an international prohibition on trade in or transfer of ancient Iraqi cultural property in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 of 22 May 2003; and to encourage all countries to keep the recovered items in established safe havens, under the auspices of UNESCO and/or Iraqi diplomatic missions, in view of their restitution to Iraq when the adequate conditions are met.

    April 10-12, 2007 was the fourth anniversary of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. SAFE/Saving Antiquities for Everyone organized a candlelight vigil to end the looting and destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq, and around the world. The following (five minute long) video was produced as part of that effort, with a talk by the Director of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, and images of the vigil at the State University of New York's Stony Brook campus:

    Meeting on underwater cultural heritage

    Six years after its adoption by UNESCO in November 2001, the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will be the theme of an information meeting on 23 November at Organization Headquarters. The event will bring together site managers and experts in underwater archaeology from all over the world to review current issues in this emerging discipline.