Mr. Federico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO, speaking on behalf of the four sponsoring agencies, placed the Education for All initiative in the context of the human cost of recent declines in the field of basic education, and emphasised the need for the conference both to renew commitment to, and provide action guidelines for, achieving basic education for all within a foreseeable time-frame.
But while the challenge of Education for All may appear daunting, a mix of vision, political will and new partnerships could well produce the "revolution" required.
Whether we can eliminate illiteracy within the next ten years will depend on cooperation at every level from the governmental and private sectors, as well as from independent agencies, which must all coordinate their efforts around the world.
HRH Princess Maha Chalcri Sirindhorn
The theme "Education for All-Meeting Basic Learning Needs" is above all about people, the most valuable resource on our planet.
Executive Secretary, WCEFA
Speakers further emphasized the necessary corollary to cooperation: self-reliance, whether of individuals suffering from inequity, of people at large, or of nation-states:
When you educate a woman, you educate a nation. We should not, therefore, allow cultural factors, financial constraints, and other factors that militate against the education of women to hinder our efforts to provide quality education to this important segment of the world population.
People are not mere numbers. When adequately trained and empowered, they are transformed into mighty forces for positive change and progress. Literacy and basic education are the indispensable tools and steps for such empowerment. We in Bangladesh are trying our best to achieve this empowerment.
The root of all dependencies originates in technological dependence... thus we in developing countries have to create our own capacity to generate technologies adequate for our conditions of life, to select technologies and to adapt them to our economic and social infrastructures, all this forming part of our own culture, our own idiosyncracies and our own way of being.