“Everyone has the right to education” – stipulates Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Education is the prerequisite for social and economic development.
Within the United Nations system, UNESCO coordinates the global action programme “Education for All”. Its objective is to achieve the six global education goals decided on by the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000.
Education is the prerequisite to improve the quality of living, overcome poverty, achieve gender equality, reduce infant mortality, contain population growth, ensure sustainable development and, ultimately, achieve peace and democracy.
Education aims to provide humans with the ability to actively and autonomously participate in public life and to critically question their current situation.
Implementing these education goals means including all stakeholders involved, especially the civil society and private economy.
The quality of education cannot be measured solely by its compliance with a performance standard. For the Austrian Commission for UNESCO, it is linked to values such as tolerance, solidarity, an understanding of diversity and respect for human rights, all of which are indispensable to ensure that people can live together peacefully in the 21st century.UNESCO’s holistic understanding of education and the requirements to be met by education are defined in the “four pillars of education” (“Delors Report”, 1996):
In its annual World Education Report, UNESCO makes international comparisons of progress in education. In intervals of three to four years, UNESCO organises an international conference on education.
UNESCO takes the lead in activities for the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003–2012), and is also responsible for implementing the United Nations Decade on Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014) which aims to disseminate the concept of sustainable development at all levels of education.