Routes of Education: The impact of UNESCO's fundamental education initiative

Routes of Education: The impact of UNESCO's fundamental education initiative

Jens Boel

In 1947, UNESCO published the book, Fundamental Education: Common Ground for all People, which is considered the first book published by the organization, and it adopted a program for fundamental education and the rebuilding of education facilities in states devastated by war.

The ambitious initiative was expanded in 1949, when the United Nations adopted a resolution which established a program of technical assistance for economic development of underdeveloped countries, in which UNESCO participated.
Broadly speaking, UNESCO’s aid program – of great personal interest to UNESCO Director General Jaime Torres Bodet – provided for assistance in technical, elementary and fundamental education, advice on the production and use of materials for education, the training of teachers and other specialized personnel, planning and organization of scientific research and training laboratories.

India was the first country to acquire assistance on fundamental education specifically. UNESCO's intervention was not accidental, since the expression "underdeveloped" or "developing" evoked India as a prototype. During the same year, UNESCO assisted in the Middle East with educational aid to refugee children – which resulted in the opening of 39 schools in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan, and also caused initiatives to be launched in Haiti, Korea and in the many new, independent post-colonial states which joined UNESCO.

All initiatives are accounted for in the UNESCO's internal documents, and some of them have also been well documented by historians of education. Almost all of them, however, focus on the agenda rather than on its impact, whereas the opposite will constitute the framework of this sub-project by focusing on the impact on the selected nine member states.

 

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