UNESCO's vision for education in the twenty-first century: Where is the moral high ground?

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In 1996 Jacques Delors presented the Report of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century, which he chaired, to the Director-General of UNESCO. The Report, entitled Learning: The Treasure Within, was presented amidst considerable media interest. Unfortunately, as this paper seeks to show, while it helped to reassert UNESCO as a key player in the international debates about education's role in socio-economic development, and while it sought to present development with a human, as opposed to economic, face, its recommendations and suggestions are remarkably tame. There are too many sweeping generalisations. Too much of the analysis and comment is backward looking and is based on inadequate research data. The 'big idea'; that of lifelong education, is hardly earth shattering. Had the analysis of key areas been greater in depth, and had the rhetoric been less 'high-flown' this report could have made an important contribution to the debate about the future shape of education. Regrettably, as this critique shows, it missed a golden opportunity.




Watson, K. (1999). UNESCO’s vision for education in the twenty-first century: Where is the moral high ground? International Journal of Educational Development, 19(1), 7–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0738-0593(98)00062-5

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