Gary Brace

Gary Brace is the UKNC’s Vice-Chair and Education Director.

He wrote the following article for the UKNC Network Link newsletter about UNESCO’s education mandate.


Adopted in November 1945 and coming into force in November 1946, UNESCO’s constitution states:

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”.

The ‘E’ of Education is certainly written large within UNESCO, with a key aim that every child has access to quality education as a fundamental human right. UNESCO is the UN’s lead agency on the six Education for All (EfA) Goals. Each year, it publishes a Global Monitoring Report on the progress that countries are making towards meeting the 2015 goals.

The latest report, focuses on Teaching and Learning and the need for achieving quality education for all. I was pleased to be present at the debate at the 37th Session of the UNESCO General Conference when the nations of the world began the process of devising new EfA goals to apply from 2015 onwards. ‘Teaching quality’ and ‘equity’ are certain to be two key words for the post-2015 education agenda.

Through our ‘policy briefs’, the UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC) offers advice to UK government, UNESCO and to other organisations on a range of issues. In the education sphere, we influenced the shape of the latest Global Monitoring Report during an earlier consultation and were pleased to recognise features from our submission in the final report. Our brief on ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ included case studies in formal and non-formal settings from each of the four countries of the UK and made a recommendation to UNESCO about the follow-up to the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.

Returning to the post-2015 targets, we produced a policy brief that identifies a set of top-level issues in education that UNESCO must address if the new targets and the implementation framework are to be effective. We are currently following up our initial questions with some detailed answers on UNESCO’s role in the post-2015 education goals that the UKNC will publish in 2016.

But UNESCO is not just about top-level global targets – it’s about changing hearts and minds. The UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet) is a global network of more than 9,000 pre-schools, primary, secondary and vocational schools across 180 countries. The Steve Sinnon Foundation, in partnership with the UKNC is responsible for the ASPnet programme in the UK.

The network is built on 4 pillars of learning which are fantastic high-level objectives around which a school can build its approach to global citizenship:

Learning to know
Learning to do
Learning to be
Learning to live together

In my view, these pillars encompass what most of us would want our children and young people to get from their education so I hope that more schools and colleges in the UK will consider becoming part of the Network.

As the world considers its progress and failures against the EfA goals, the new post-2015 education agenda presents an exciting and prosperous time for the challenges young people face worldwide.