Population Education

January 7, 2010 • Daily Email Recap

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Thanks to David Burleson for this talk by Colin Power, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO in 1993.

ADDRESS by Mr. COLIN POWER, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO


Mr. State Minister of Education,
Distinguished Ministers,
Dr. Sadik,
Mr. Director General of UNESCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In his recent book “Preparing for the 21st Century”, Paul Kennedy of Yale University asks: Where will we put the next three billion people? The population explosion threatens the very existence of already over-crowded and poverty stricken countries of South Asia, Latin America and Africa. Very clearly, rapid population growth is one of the most serious impediments to development today, and the single largest obstacle to our dream of education for all by the year 2000. It is not just a problem of increasing poverty, growing numbers of illiterates, overgrazing, soil erosion and destruction of rain forests, but population pressures also tend to produce regional conflicts, flow of refugees, and great pressure on developed to admit emigrants from poorer countries. Rational self-interest, Kennedy argues, not just humane concern, should make rich countries do all they can to prevent overpopulation and the suffering and strife it brings.

 REAL REASONS FOR POPULATION GROWTH: WHITEPAPERThe nature and magnitude of the problem has been forcefully and clearly articulated by the Directors General of UNESCO and UNFPA and by the Prime Minister. Theirs was not, however, a message of despair, for they pointed to the solution. The key to the problem of stabilizing the number of humans on the planet, as Mr. Mayor, emphasized, is education -particularly an education which empowers girls and women, an education which provides women and men with a basic knowledge and skills to population issues.

In my address, I would like to elaborate a little on the substantive issue raised in the opening session: the problem of making our population education programmes effective and part of the fabric of formal and non-formal programmes world-wide.

Nature and Development of Population Education

At the World Conference on Education for All, we defined the purpose of population education as that of helping people to understand the impact of population change on lives and to develop the decision making skills they will need to cope with their population situation and to improve it. Such population education can help people to improve well being of their families and communities, and it can have an especially important impact on women in society.

While it is evident that education has a vital role to play in addressing the population issue, we cannot escape the fact that initially there was resistance on the part of governments and educational systems to accept population education in the curriculum schools and universities and we cannot sidestep the obstacles to its development. Despite the problems of curriculum overcrowding and cultural-religious obstacles, over past two decades, population education programmes have been implemented approximately 100 developing countries. The pace of development has not been the same in all the regions. Africa tops the list with almost all the African countries having population education projects; following Africa, is Asia and the Pacific, Latin America Caribbean region, and finally, the Arab region, where population education has grown somewhat more slowly.

In each region, population education programmes have developed in different ways, taking into account specific population problems, the sociocultural setting, the institution infrastructure and the acceptance of population education by the society in general and education system in particular. Thus, in many countries in Asia there is still a resistant to including any kind of family planning or sex education components in school curriculums. On the other hand, some Latin American countries began their programme placing major emphasis on human sexuality. The titles of programmes such as population education, family life education, sex education, and quality of life education reflect the emphasis given by the countries to their specific population related problems.

Contributions of Population Education

In contrast with traditional subjects, population education aims essentially at changing attitudes and values and forming behaviours, some of which will only become manifest several years later. Clearly, this is a very difficult goal to achieve, one which demands a concerted and coordinated effort. Nevertheless, a number of evaluation studies have shown in general, the introduction of population education leads to a greater awareness among students and teachers and a positive change in their attitudes toward population issues.

Population education has also contributed both to the achievement of national population objectives as well as to the improvement of quality and relevance of general education. Population education has introduced interdisciplinary and a holistic approach which is often lacking in the educational systems in the developing countries. It has helped shift the emphasis in teaching from memorization of facts to critical thinking through active participation in the learning process. Population education has often added to the professional competence of school systems by developing skills among teachers. It has brought school and community closer by improving exchange between the school and the community through a variety of co-curricular activities.

Effective Population Education Programmes

The experience of population education programmes in the formal system has yielded valuable lessons; introduction of population education in the education system is often difficult and a slow process. It has faced many obstacles such as large, cumbersome and overburdened education systems; financial difficulties; inadequately trained personnel; limited supply of materials; shortage of staff, sensitive nature of some of its content; and lack of coordination among different agencies and departments. Difficulties also stem from the interdisciplinary and sensitive nature of its content which require modern teaching methodologies for teaching it.

Experience has shown that population education programmes are successful where:

i) there is strong political commitment and support to the programme;

ii) population education is a part of the national population policy and educational policy of the country;

iii) population education programmes and activities are planned and developed in consultation with the teachers, community leaders, students and concerned bureaus and specialists;

iv) population education programme/project is an integral part of the curriculum development centers or of the Ministry of Education;

v) a full time team of specialists are assigned to implement the programme activities for the total duration of the project;

vi) population education is an integral part of the educational plan and budget of the Ministry of Education;

vii) population education is integrated into the pre-service training of teachers and public examination system;

viii) there is a close coordination at national, regional and local levels among different relevant agencies and institutions as well as among different bureaus of the Ministry/Department of Education, through regular meetings of steering committees and advisory committees;

ix) there is timely release of funds to the project by the government and donor agencies; and

x) there is an in-built monitoring and evaluation mechanism for assessing the progress and effectiveness of the programme.

Issues facing Population Education

Population education has gradually gained acceptance as an important part of the school curriculum in most developing countries of the world. However, a lot still needs to be done if this relatively new field is to become both institutionalized and strengthened substantively to the point that its impact can be felt over a long-term period. There are new challenges to be met in terms of its conceptualization, consolidation, institutionalization and its expansion to encompass all levels of formal and non-formal education in all developing countries.

Perhaps the most challenging and pressing issue is the need to review the conceptualization and contents of population education. Conceptualization of population education involves, to a great extent, a question of emphasis, rooted in complex sociocultural differences. Cultural differences have also affected selection of content. Since the main push for conceptualization of population education in its early history came from population and family planning professionals, it was interpreted, both within and outside the educational system, as another name for sex education and/or family planning education. This misconception has been one of the hurdles in starting population education programmes in some countries.

In view of the emerging social problems such as AIDS, drug abuse, ageing, adolescent fertility, environmental deterioration and inequitable development as well as the new insights and evidence from scientific and social research, there is a constant need to update and renew the population education programmes. Therefore it is evident that population education must be revised to respond to present and future needs of the countries.

One important characteristic of population education is that it is neither propaganda nor indoctrination. Changes in the demographic situation can only be obtained with the free consent and the active participation of women and men concerned. Coercion is not only incompatible with demographic values and human rights, it is also ineffective in the long run. Therefore, population education should aim at developing freedom of choice and responsible individual behaviour towards population problems.

The process of population education should enable learners to extend their understanding of population-related issues, broaden perspectives, and develop appropriate skills in analyzing and defining the issues in a way which is personally meaningful and socially relevant. Inherent in this approach is the concept that the student is not presented with a ready-made course of action and asked to accept it. The course of action which he chooses is developed during the process of coming to understand the problem in its interrelationship with various factors that can change the national or the individual quality of life. Population education should help people make informed alternative choices with regard to the solutions of the problems arising out of change in population in the context of sustainable development.

Population Education across the Curriculum

Population education has been introduced at various levels of education in different countries. There is, however, a need to reconsider the importance of introducing and strengthening population education at the primary and university levels.

The importance of introducing population education and its bearing on quality of life as early as the first years at school, even from pre-school level, cannot be too strongly stressed, for those are the years during which attitudes and values are formed and where school attendance is the highest. Important skills and attitudes such as those regarding gender roles, decision-making skills, the development of self-esteem, respect for others, etc. can be developed at an early age. Population education should, therefore, find an entry into the content of the first 4000 hours of instruction in basic education under the programme of Education for All. At the basic and secondary level, the efforts made by UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO to crystallize the basic knowledge required into a number of “Facts for Life” represent one approach to the core curriculum which needs to be built. At the Jomtien World Conference, we also set out some key ideas about the content of population education programs which have universal applicability.

The need for introducing population education at the university level has been acutely felt in recent years because of the establishment of population education programmes in many countries at the school level. The universities are expected to take up a leadership role in training, research and extension activities in population education so that population education can become fully institutionalized in the total education system of a country. Within the university itself, Faculties/Colleges of education have an intimate connection with what goes on in the schools by virtue of the functions they discharge in relation to school education.

Since university students are, in large part, future leaders, it is important that they should be well aware of the problems that the society is facing. Every college student should, therefore, be exposed to a programme of study that would help him acquire an insight into the quality of life repercussions of the population phenomena for the individual and community with a view to promoting responsible decision-making related to population issues including family size. The introduction of a population dimension in general university education will also help to enhance the status of population education and to facilitate its dissemination to other levels of education.

Teacher Education

Teachers, as we all know, are the crucial determinants to the quality of education. The training of teachers is, therefore, a prerequisite to the success of any new innovation in education, particularly so in the case of population education because of the complex, sensitive and value-laden nature of some of its content. In many developing countries, the teachers are also community leaders and change agents, particularly in rural areas. However, the challenge of training teachers is a stupendous one. It is estimated that there are about 47 million teachers throughout the world in the formal sector alone of which 30 million are in the developing countries. Most teachers have received little or no training and are therefore ill-prepared to handle the content of population education effectively. In view of the large number of teachers who need to be trained, cost-effective strategies have to be devised in the developing countries. In my own work on population education programmes in Australia, I found that changing the attitudes and pedagogical style of the teachers to be the greatest single barrier to the effective introduction of a unit called “How many people” into the science programmes of Australian schools.

The ultimate objective of the population education programmes is its institutionalization in the education system of a country. The introduction of population education is usually a slow process. It is, therefore, not surprising that no country has yet achieved full-scale institutionalization. For population education to be considered institutionalized, its concepts must be included in the school curricula and textbooks, pre-service teacher training and in the national or state examinations. The government commitment and support should be reflected inter alia in the financial and human resources allocation in the plan and budgets of the Ministries of Education and other relevant educational institutions.

The process of institutionalization of population education should be seen in the context of the constraints of the educational systems of the countries. As the situation stands today, education has a low priority in the national budgets of many developing countries. In view of the fact that any increase in the investment in education will be absolved to meet the quantitative targets, it is inevitable that very little will remain for achieving qualitative improvement. It is possible that qualitative improvement will assume low priority in most of the developing countries in the region over the quantitative targets. In few countries where increases in enrollment are tapering off as a result of the decline in fertility, it is possible to invest in qualitative improvement in education. But the situation in many developing countries seems to be rather pessimistic in the next decade or two because of increasing enrolment, as well as the increasing number of children not in school.

While the governments must reorient national priorities and allocate more financial resources to education, including population education, the international community, in particular, UNFPA, needs to continue to give population education a much greater priority in its programmes of assistance, so that population education can be fully institutionalized.

Ladies and gentlemen, UNESCO has been concerned with the problem of population right from its inception. The first UNESCO Director-General, Sir Julian Huxley, in his Annual Report, emphasized that over-population could drastically affect the future civilization and its rate of progress. “Somehow or the other,” he wrote, “population must be balanced against resources or civilization will perish.” He suggested that UNESCO’s task must include educating the peoples of the world to realize the gravity of the problems involved.

Since the first United Nations World Population Conference at Bucharest in 1974, the notion of population has broadened, and concerns have changed, which has strengthened UNESCO’s mandate. UNESCO’s population concerns have been reflected in its Medium Term Plans. In the First Medium Term Plan (1977-1982), one chapter was devoted to “population phenomena” and related issues in which population education was given a major role. The Second Medium Term Plan (1984-1989) introduced a population concern under a new presentation in terms of “major world problems” with a view of preserving an interdisciplinary approach in which population education was seen as a support of national population and development policies. The Third Medium Term Plan (1990-1995) while retaining the same general conception as the Second Plan, revitalized and further strengthened the role of population education. As mentioned by Mr. Mayor in his address at the opening session, population education will get a further impetus in the programme and budget of UNESCO in the next biennium (1994-1995) through the establishment of a new interdisciplinary and inter-agency project, “Environment and Population Education and Information for Human Development”. The project will be implemented in cooperation with other agencies of the United Nations system, particularly UNFPA and UNEP, and non-governmental organizations. During the past two decades, UNESCO’s action within the field of population education can be considered at three complementary levels: firstly, its contribution to the devising of concepts and methodological approaches, which began in the early 1970s; secondly, its contribution to the advancement of population education and its consolidation, which was the major aim, particularly during the first part of the 1980s; and finally, its contribution to developing regional and national capabilities in preparing, implementing and managing national population education programmes and projects.

In preparation for this Congress, the UNESCO Secretariat organized, between 1990 and 1992, five regional meetings (Africa, Asia and Pacific, Arab States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe), and an inter-agency meeting during which more than 130 specialists from 85 countries and international organizations shared experience and highlighted the needs for population education and information on population issues.

As already communicated to you, the Congress will focus mainly on population education at all levels of formal education systems, i.e., primary, secondary, technical and vocational, higher education and teacher training. The decision was taken by UNESCO and UNFPA in view of the fact that about 95% of children of primary school age are in schools (in 1988, out of an estimated population of 85.6 million primary school entrance age in developing countries, 5.3 million did not enter school). There is, of course, a high drop-out rate of children from schools before they complete the primary stage in many developing countries but efforts are being made by governments as a follow-up of the World Conference on Education for All, to achieve universal primary education by the year 2000.

The main purpose of the Congress is to review the evolution of population education worldwide during the last two decades and to adopt a Declaration and approve an action framework for population education on the eve of the 21st Century. As mentioned by Mr. Mayor in his address, the results of the Congress will be submitted to the 27th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in 1993 for endorsement. They will also be presented at the meeting of the Nine Largest Countries to be organized by UNESCO in Delhi in November 1993, as well as at the International Conference on Population and Development, to be organized by the United Nations in Cairo in 1994.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our experience and evidence leave no doubt that population education is an element of crucial importance for any development programme concerned with using education to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Yet as it is a relatively new dimension within the broad field of education, population education is still approached warily by governments and educators, as well as the public at large. Population education should be seen as an educational and culturally sensitive response to the social and economic problems which confront us individually and collectively. By promoting responsible behaviour, we seek to contribute to improving the quality of life of individuals and society. At this conference, we seek your help and assistance in achieving this end.

as did Federico Mayor, the DG…..of UNESCO…

This is Google’s cache of http://www.un.org/popin/confcon/poped/anx3wp.htm.

Director-General of the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Mr. State Minister of Education,
Distinguished Ministers,
Dr Sadik,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The figures are well known to us, but their implications are of such gravity that we must never tire of repeating them. The world’s population is set to grow from its current figure of some 5.5 billion to over 6 billion in the year 2000 and to an estimated 8.5 billion by 2025. The UNFPA population clock, which is constantly before me in my office in Paris, shows that the number of people on the planet is increasing by some 10,000 every hour, 250,000 every day, 100 million every year. And we know that ninety per cent of this increase will occur in the developing countries.

As matters stand today, one billion people are living in absolute poverty, 800 million go hungry every day, 1.75 billion are without safe drinking water, almost one billion cannot read or write, 100 million are completely homeless, 150 million children under the age of five (one in three) are undernourished, urbanization is growing at a phenomenal rate, renewable and non-renewable resources are being seriously depleted, biodiversity is shrinking alarmingly, and the distress signals emitted by the environment are becoming ever more urgent and ubiquitous. In the developing countries , numbers have in fact already begun to overwhelm local resources, while the wasteful lifestyle of the rich billion in the industrialized world is having the same effect on planetary resources, in particular on the ultimate common resource that is the earth’s environment. What would be the impact of another 3 billion people on the environment by 2025, of an extra 5 billion by 2050 as UN projections suggest ? Even if life support systems proved unexpectedly resilient, if crop yields were improved immeasurably and if new technologies allowed us to produce more with less pollution, the result would spell disaster – in terms of famine, disease, environmental damage and, doubtless, intercommunal violence and extremism of all kinds.

It is not surprising that many of the world’s prominent scientists, including several Nobel laureates, have recently appealed to government leaders of all nations for immediate action to halt the damage to global natural systems caused by over-consumption in the industrialized countries and spiraling populations linked to poverty in the developing world.

The World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity, signed by some 1500 scientists from 68 countries, declares : “No more than one or two decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished”. Choices made in the next ten years will determine to a large extent the future habitability of the planet Earth.

The situation, then, is critical, but it is in no way hopeless. On the contrary, there are very sound empirical grounds for believing that, given the will and the resources at both national and international level, runaway population growth can be checked and the number of humans on the planet can be stabilized before catastrophe strikes. The key to achieving this result – it is generally recognized – is education, which is essential to bringing about the changes in attitudes, values and behaviour that enable the interlinked problems of population and sustainable development to be effectively addressed.

My missions to many parts of the world have strongly underscored the message for me. I think, for example, of a lady I met in the Wardha district of India, celebrating the achievement of 100 % literacy, who described to me the effects of the new empowerment of women on reproductive patterns. The evidence, though, is much more than anecdotal. Experience in numerous countries has demonstrated that education is a crucial factor in lowering fertility rates, as well as reducing infant mortality and promoting economic growth. The examples of China and Sri Lanka come to mind immediately. Education has similarly been central to Thailand’s dramatic success in reducing population increase. In a country where 90 per cent of women are literate, the average number of children per woman fell from 6.1 in 1965-70 to only 2.2 in 1987 and was matched by a sharp drop in infant mortality and substantial economic progress. In Brazil, illiterate women produce an average of 6.5 children, while women with secondary education only 2.5. Sub-Saharan Africa, where female literacy averages only 15 %, significantly has some of the highest rates of population growth. No one, of course, would seek to deny the complexity of population issues or the many factors involved in the reduction of fertility – including the socioeconomic context, the availability of family planning services and, in some cases, direct incentives to limit family size. However, it is clear from the World Fertility Surveys and many other studies that education, particularly of girls and women, is the key to reducing fertility, whatever the socioeconomic or cultural context.

The fundamental problem that has to be addressed if escalating population growth is to be mastered is that of improving access to basic education, of providing learning opportunities to the 100 million or so out-of-school children and the one billion illiterate adults, three-quarters of them women. We are of course all aware of the difficulties that many developing countries are having in “keeping up” with population growth in the educational sphere, much less “overtaking” it. Yet the theoretical capacities, expressed in terms of gross enrolment ratios, exist in many of these countries. The problem is that of making access effective, of reaching out to the unreached percentage of the population – in particular girls and women – that will make all the difference when it comes to curbing population growth. This will call in many cases for new approaches, for greater investment in non-formal education, for improvement in the quality and relevance of education so as to avoid the massive drop-out and wastage problems that plague so many developing countries. Improving the quantity and quality of educational provision is clearly an enormous challenge for countries currently having problems in running fast enough to stay still. Yet if the vicious circle of overpopulation, underdevelopment and excessive pressure on the resource base is to be broken, education is the point at which it will be achieved.

President Mubarak of Egypt has referred to education as “a priority for national security”, and it is – I believe – in such urgent terms that the question must be posed. We cannot continue to adopt what has inelegantly but forcefully been called the “pile of bodies” approach to critical socio-political issues – awaiting till calamity occurs before reacting. If the threats inherent in excessive population growth, poverty and environmental degradation are to be averted, new social and economic commitments will be necessary, resting to some extent on the demilitarizing of national economies and a greater emphasis on pre-emptive peace-building by the international community in the aftermath of the Cold War. Basic education currently receives only a modest proportion of official development assistance. Allocations fall well short of the estimated $ 6 billion per annum needed to provide for the world’s out-of-school children, the $ 2 billion required to educate illiterate women and the $ 9 billion necessary to tackle the= population problem – and invite comparison with the immense amounts spent on armaments and wars, or even on peace-keeping functions as compared with peace-building operations. Yet the challenge of education for all is truly a global one, and if the worst-case scenarios for the world’s future are not to be realised it must be accepted as a national and international priority by all.

In association with UNDP, the World Bank, UNICEF, UNFPA and other agencies, UNESCO is actively pursuing the task of promoting basic education worldwide as a follow-up to the World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien (Thailand) in 1990. Its most recent initiative in this context, supporting the attempt of nine of the world’s largest countries to give fresh impetus to their efforts to achieve education for all, is of obvious relevance to the concerns of this Congress. Following a series of national meetings and events, a summit meeting of the countries concerned will take place in Delhi in November of this year. Other recent UNESCO-sponsored meetings relevant to the promotion of education for all – and population education in particular – include the World Congress for Education and Communication on Environment and Development (Toronto, October 1992), the International Forum on Education for Democracy (Tunis, November 1992), and the International Congress on Education for Human Rights and Democracy (Montreal, March 1993). The themes of population, development, environment, democracy -and human rights, together with others such as drugs and AIDS-prevention, are convergent components of the education for the quality of life that UNESCO is promoting within the framework of the Education for All initiative and in the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. UNESCO’s various activities in this sphere thus form a coherent strategy of action, whose results will feed into conferences such as the Cairo International Conference on Population -and Development in 1994.

Population, environment and development are, in the words of your working document, an “inseparable trinity”. It is for this reason that I am proposing for the next biennium (1994-95) a new interdisciplinary and interagency project, “Environment and Population Education and Information for Human Development”, to be implemented in cooperation with other agencies of the United Nations system, in particular UNFPA and UNEP, and nongovernmental organizations. Setting population education in the wider context of sustainable development offers many advantages. It enables population issues to be presented as immediately relevant to the lives and prospects of learners and to be easily linked to other vital issues of health, family life, gender equity and so forth. It provides scope for the introduction of graduated programmes at different levels of the education system, from the crucial primary level right up to the university level. It facilitates the adaptation of population education to different social contexts and helps to overcome religious and cultural hurdles to its introduction in the syllabus. Highlighting the vital connections between population and development can also serve to enhance the status of population education in the eyes of administrators and decision-makers, whose support is crucial to securing its integration in the curriculum and to ensuring that teachers are properly trained in the subject.

Teacher preparation is a crucial aspect of population education. Teachers, as we know are always the ultimate determinants of the quality of education. Their role is however, particularly vital in population education because of the complex, sensitive and value-laden nature of some of its content. There are an estimated 47 million teachers worldwide in the formal sector alone, over 30 million of them in the developing countries, and the challenge of preparing them for new and demanding tasks is enormous. In the developing countries particularly, cost-effective strategies need to be devised in the context of more general efforts to upgrade professional pre-service and in-service training for teachers. Special attention must also be given to training instructors and field workers for non-formal population education, employing innovative modalities as well as more traditional methods. The universities should play a leadership role in training, research and extension activities so that population education can become fully institutionalized in the overall education system of a country.

The importance of teachers in the context of population education underlines the fact that the problem of uncontrolled population growth is part of the general problem of the knowledge gap and that its solution – as for most development problems – lies in what may be called inner capacity building. This implies more than the mere transfer of knowledge and know-how, although it encompasses this. It means awakening the unique potential, the endogenous capacities of individuals and peoples. It means helping people to generate the knowledge appropriate to their own cultural context, whether in relation to population or any other development issues. What we are talking about, then, is the fostering of those educational processes that are the key to human sustainable development, which is only sustainable in human terms insofar as it is expressive of the genius and identity of a culture

This Congress, organized jointly with UNFPA, provides us with an opportunity to contribute to the promotion of sustainable development by comparing experiences in the field of population education and by identifying priorities, strategies and actions developing, strengthening and institutionalizing population education in the 1990s and beyond. Almost twenty years have passed since the 1974 World Population Conference in Bucharest adopted its World Plan of Action, which was subsequently reaffirmed and enriched at the Mexico International Conference on Population in 1984 and reconfirmed by the Amsterdam International Forum on Population in the 21st Century in 1989. The main purpose of this Congress will be to review the evolution of population education worldwide over the past two decades and to adopt a Declaration on the role of population education in the promotion of human development, together with a document proposing a framework for action. The results of the Congress will be submitted to the twenty-seventh session the UNESCO General Conference this autumn for endorsement. They will also be presented to the Delhi Meeting of the Nine Largest Countries in November of this year and to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. The outcome your Congress will also help to shape UNESCO’s programme on education for sustainable human development, democracy and human rights and will be of great interest to various committees and commissions established by UNESCO or under its auspices, including the Independent Commission on Population and Quality of Life chaired by Mrs. Maria Lourdes Pintasilgo, the International Commission on Education for the 21st Century chaired by Mr. Jacques Delors, and the World Commission on Culture and Development chaired by Mr. Javier Perez de Cuellar.

The importance of partnership for attaining the goals of sustainable development was one of the strongest messages to emerge from the Rio Summit. Co-operation and coordination at national and international levels concerning all aspects of education for the quality of life are essential to the effectiveness of population education. Governments have a responsibility to reorient national priorities and increase the resources for education and related social sectors, but effective policy formulation and implementation will call for an alliance between the State, business, industry, the private sector and NGOs and close partnership with international organizations. The international community, for its part, will need to give education – including population education – much greater priority in its cooperation programmes and ensure maximum synergy between and within governmental and non-governmental bodies in working for programme development, promotion and implementation at the country level.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The partnership that has linked UNESCO to UNFPA over the past twenty years has, I believe, been very fruitful, and I am sure it will be further strengthened in the years to come as we attempt to tackle the problems with which this Congress is concerned. I should like to pay tribute here to Dr Nafis Sadik, who has provided such excellent leadership to UNFPA and who has been very supportive of UNESCO’s programme in population education. With her, I believe that “The partnership of UNESCO, UNFPA and countries worldwide in implementing population education programmes in schools and other appropriate settings is of immense value for our common future”.

This, Ladies and gentlemen, is what you are assembled to talk about – our common future, and the future of the generations to come. The question is whether we are to leave them a world worth inhabiting, or a crippling legacy of social and environmental debt. The time left for us to choose is limited, very limited. The population clock on my desk, like L’Horloge of the poet Baudelaire, seems to speak a warning and to issue a call to action:

“Remember! Souviens-toi. (… )! Esto memor!
(Mon gosier de mtal parle toutes les langues).
Les minutes (… ) sont des gangues
Qu’il ne faut pas Ificher sans en extraire l’or!”

I hope that your Congress profits fully from the time available to it and produces action-oriented conclusions that will help advance the cause of population education worldwide.

Current World Population


Net Growth During Your Visit