E d u c a t i o n : t h e n e c e s s a r y U t o p i a (Jacques Delors) – Part 1

In confronting the many challenges that the future holds in store,
humankind sees in education an indispensable asset in its attempt to attain
the ideals of peace, freedom and social justice. As it concludes its work, the
Commission affirms its belief that education has a fundamental role to play
in personal and social development. The Commission does not see education
as a miracle cure or a magic formula opening the door to a world in which
all ideals will be attained, but as one of the principal means available to
foster a deeper and more harmonious form of human development and
thereby to reduce poverty, exclusion, ignorance, oppression and war.
At a time when educational policies are being sharply criticized
or pushed – for economic and financial reasons – down to the bottom of
the agenda, the Commission wishes to share this conviction with
the widest possible audience, through its analyses, discussions and
Does the point need to be emphasized? The Commission was
thinking principally about the children and young people who will take
over from today’s generation of adults, the latter being all too inclined
to concentrate on their own problems. Education is also an expression
of affection for children and young people, whom we need to
welcome into society, unreservedly offering them the place that is
theirs by right therein – a place in the education system, to be sure,
but also in the family, the local community and the nation. This
elementary duty needs to be constantly brought to mind, so that
greater attention is paid to it, even when choosing between political,
economic and financial options. In the words of a poet: ‘The Child is
father of the Man’.
Our century has been as much one of sound and fury as of economic
and social progress – progress that in any case has not been equally
shared. At the dawn of a new century the prospect of which evokes both
anguish and hope, it is essential that all people with a sense of
responsibility turn their attention to both the aims and the means of
education. It is the view of the Commission that, while education is an
ongoing process of improving knowledge and skills, it is also – perhaps
primarily – an exceptional means of bringing about personal development
and building relationships among individuals, groups and nations.
This view was explicitly adopted by the members of the Commission
when they accepted their mandate. They wished more o v e r, by the
arguments they adduced, to stress the pivotal role of UNESCO, a role that
stems directly from the ideas on which UNESCO was founded, based upon
the hope for a world that is a better place to live in, where people will have
learned to respect the rights of women and men, to show mutual
understanding, and to use advances in knowledge to foster human
development rather than to create further distinctions between people.
Our Commission had the perhaps impossible task of overcoming the
obstacles presented by the extraordinary diversity of situations in the
world and trying to arrive at analyses that are universally valid and
conclusions acceptable to everyone.
Nevertheless, the Commission did its best to project its thinking on
to a future dominated by globalization, to choose those questions that
everyone is asking and to lay down some guidelines that can be applied
both within national contexts and on a worldwide scale.


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