Any plan or strategy for action has at its base a conceptual framework, itself usually based on certain intrinsic principles or convictions. During the course of the Conference, as delegates stated the rationale for their views on, and commitment to, Education for All, a set of convictions emerged, forming a common thread linking speakers from around the world.
The belief in a people-centred development process, in which human development is at the core of economic and social development, was one such expression.
Delegates frequently cited the fundamental human right to education, and the importance of equity and quality in basic education. As women and men exercise their right to education, they come to be aware of, and are able to exercise, their other rights; education is the crucible for democracy and liberty, and is as indispensable to national development as it is to individual development.
Education for All must be oriented towards individual liberation from every form of domination and oppression, but it must also socialize the individual to be dynamically involved with others, to assume responsibility. Education for All must be oriented to equality of all, and to participation of all in national development.
Equality considerations are important in any strategy which aims to lead to Education for All. The process of lifelong learning is one of the most important means by which democratic norms, values and structures can take shape and reshape society.
Delegates stressed the empowering role of education for people and countries, but a note of caution was introduced by one delegate when participants were reminded that, too often:
Many delegates viewed basic education as a necessary condition for tackling development problems, a decisive factor for improving societies, the essential foundation for human resource development. However, delegates were cautioned against viewing education as a panacea for all ills; education is rooted in, and inseparable from, its social, cultural and economic context. Education for All cannot be addressed in isolation, but as part of a wider effort to achieve equitable development.
An essential element of that equitable process is the recognition of diversity of approaches to basic education, in particular, the adaptation to local requirements. This is to acknowledge that decentralisation, devolution of authority and responsibility for the administration of basic education to the community, can often be more productive than a centralized approach.
From whatever perspective, the value of investment in quality basic education was unquestioned. In economists' terms,
Delegates reiterated the need for political commitment to Education for All. Without political will, there can be no achievement. Success depends on political solutions for complex education and resource problems.
A cooperative spirit is essential to this process. Each country must make a national commitment to Education for All, and each may take a different route. But within each country, goals will only be attained through cooperative endeavour between many partners in and outside government.
Beyond national boundaries, the Education for All initiative will need to build on inter-state collaboration, emerging networks and models of cooperation within regions, and, above all, on an invigourated spirit of international solidarity. One delegate spoke for many:
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