In the name of God
Intervention in the Education Commission
UNESCO’s 37th General Assembly
On agenda item 5.12:
Education Beyond 2015
Comments on Document 37 C/56
By: Mahmoud Mehrmohammadi
The representative of the I.R.Iran
November 7th 2013
Thank you Mr. Chair for allowing me to make some comments on behalf of the Iranian delegation:
- The first comment concerns the concept of “Cultural Rapprochement”. I’d like to suggest exploration of the implications of this crucial theme for which UNESCO has named a decade (2013-2022). Educational programs of post 2015 should demonstrate more responsibility for the realization of this theme by responding through incorporation of ideas and content that is deemed relevant. Before any action at the practical level can take place, however, educationalists and educational policy makers led by UNESCO should conduct regional and international forums to reach a shared understanding of this complex and multidimensional concept. This effort is perfectly in line with operationalizing UNESCO’s 4th pillar of education, namely “Learning to Live Together”. To begin on this process. I would suggest the rationale behind “Cultural Rapprochement” be considered as a call, divine or otherwise, to the citizens of the world to celebrate their similarities and commonalities while respecting their differences and distinctiveness. The celebration of shared views and values.
- The second comment involves the rethinking of the very definition of education. Education redefined as equivalent to identity or experience to replace the prevalent definition of education as change in the manifest and measurable behavior. Future educational policies, I submit, should focus on the most disabling belief. Behavioral change represents behavioral changes with no traceable changes within. Identity approach to education, however, imposes a standard on teaching and learning far beyond what is manifested in the child’s behavior. Students, in other words, are presumed to be educated not only if they demonstrate knowing certain things or doing certain things, but if they embrace a different view towards social, political, economic, physical and spiritual phenomena they encounter that is distinct from the common encounter categorizing un-schooled people. This level of enriched encounter is referred to as “knowing with” which must be viewed as a vital addition to “knowing that” and “knowing how”, usually exhausting what schools aspire too. Education defined from the perspective of identity or experience, is an education that attempts to achieve further in pursuing quality education. UNESCO is, thus, advised to seek alliance with this line of thought by integrating this view into its view of quality education. Otherwise education will, no doubt, improve but within boundaries that does not allow the “jump out of the box” to take place. In other words, “re-schooling” as an imperative of the new era will not materialize. And as you all know, if “re-schooling” is hampered, “de-schooling” will most probably occur.
- My third comment concerns teacher education. Future of teacher education programs will literally decide and determine the future of schools in every member state. Teacher education programs need to continue enjoying a paramount place in the post 2015 agenda. Sharing experiences and achievements through networking and otherwise remain a priority for UNESCO’s educational endeavor in the upcoming decade. In this vein, technological literacy if future teachers integrated with their pedagogical competency must be given due attention so that the chances for the dramatic overhaul of education through technology will increase. Realistic hopes for success will come into sight once again since, this time around, technological gadgets will be given life in the hands of prepared teachers.
- My last point puts emphasis on technology education. I submit that this is a neglected imperative for the future. By technology education I mean technological problem solving and technological thinking which stands as a missing component of the educational puzzle. Being more and less the case in all the countries, it obviously should not be mistaken with technical vocational education. Nor should it be confused with scientific thinking and scientific problem solving. Competent skilled workers and successful solvers of scientific problems are not necessarily good technological problems solvers or someone whose technological thinking has been nurtured in school. Inventiveness, when faced with a problem, either social or physical, requiring a creative and effective resolution is the outcome of technological thinking. Efforts should, therefore, go into delineating the differences so that the suggested gap could be more clearly perceived and acted upon. I will finish by affirming that to the extent that the quality of future societies are bound to technology, future educational policy is obliged to reconsider its explicit and implicit agenda to ensure that technological thinking or problem solving has indeed received its due share of attention and resources.
Thank you for your attention