Education for All: Realities
The Conference was considered timely by delegates, but several emphasized that without radically new approaches, recent positive changes in the international political environment would not be sufficient to prevent the critical problems facing many countries from deteriorating even further.
On the one hand, unprecedented changes in the world make it possible to foresee new forms of cooperation and new partnerships. Revived concerns about the centrality of human development in the overall development process make a new thrust in basic education a realistic goal. The creation of new knowledge and information, and the exponential growth in the capacity and reach of communications technology, provide a basis for making universal access to quality learning a possibility.
But the step from possibility to reality depends on will, innovation, and above all, resources. But at present, in the words of one delegate:
Additional problems include reliance on outdated agricultural technology, narrow industrial bases, and the deteriorating terms of trade which many countries, in Africa in particular, have to face.
In the field of basic education in many countries, the impact of financial and economic constraints and of the demographic explosion can be seen in declining expenditures on education, in falling enrolment rates, increasing numbers of illiterates, and a decline in the quality of teaching and training. Rapid expansion seems a distant dream in such circumstances. As one delegate put it:
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