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close this bookInternational Conference on Education 43rd Session - Final Report (IBE, UNESCO; 1992; 91 pages)
View the documentSUMMARY
View the documentINTRODUCTION
close this folderPART I. The contribution of education to cultural development
close this folderSummary of the plenary discussions
View the documentA. Introduction
View the documentB. Issues concerning the interrelationship of education and culture
View the documentC. Co-ordination of educational and cultural policies
View the documentD. Language issues
View the documentE. Points of special concern
View the documentF. International co-operation in education: a continuing priority
Open this folder and view contentsPART II. Education, culture and development: new prospects for interaction for the benefit of the individual and society
View the documentPART III. Preliminary report on the implementation of Recommendation No. 77 adopted by the International Conference on Education at its 42nd session
View the documentPART IV. Recommendation No. 78 to ministries responsible for education and culture concerning the contribution of education to cultural development
Open this folder and view contentsANNEXES
 

B. Issues concerning the interrelationship of education and culture

3. Numerous speakers referred to the difficulty of defining culture and hence the concept of cultural development, one of them noting that there were over 100 accepted definitions of culture. An issue implicit in the debate was whether culture should be defined narrowly or broadly in its relationship to education. One delegate cautioned the Conference that culture must be understood as being more than theatre and arts. Another noted, 'however, that when everything was defined as culture, culture became nothing more than an uninteresting slogan. A number of speakers referred with approval to the definition of culture contained in Preliminary Draft Recommendation No. 78, deriving from the World Conference on Cultural Policies (Mexico City, 1982), in which culture is defined as 'the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterise a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs'. Others observed that the task of the Conference was not so much to define culture, which they perceived as a difficult and elusive task but to identify those aspects of culture which had a direct bearing upon education. One delegate considered that even this represented an immense and unrewarding task which could lead the Conference to make meaningless recommendations on matters which were more properly the concern of local authorities, schools and teachers or students and their families. He suggested that in dealing with culture, the Conference limit itself to identifying some common denominators or principles regarding the role culture must play in the educational system in a decent society. Such principles, he added, should be true and important no matter what culture, religion or educational structure may exist in a particular country. He further indicated that his and neighbouring States which shared the views he had expressed had proposed an amendment to the Draft Recommendation to give it a sharper focus and greater relevance.

4. Numerous speakers suggested principles which should inform the cultural role and content of educational systems. These included respect for human rights; tolerance of and respect for other people, their views and beliefs; strengthening of moral and ethical values; knowledge of and respect for one's own culture; concern for the environment; promotion of equality between the sexes; and development of a global perspective on issues One delegate insisted that the greatest contribution education could make to cultural development was in advancing the idea of human equality and human rights. The role of education was perceived by another delegate to be not only the transmission of culture but also, and above all, the critical analysis of culture in order that it be improved and purged of dangerous elements. Education's contributions to culture, he asserted, had to be that of the active and constructive critic, not merely the passive conveyor of an unconsidered heritage.

5. Several speakers stressed that cultural development could not meaningfully be separated from the development of democracy and human rights. The goal of 'culture for all', it was said, implied a democratic environment. Referring to recent political changes in their countries, some delegates informed the Conference of measures being taken to strengthen the teaching of democracy and human rights in the schools. One speaker in fact declared that 'there could be no democracy in the society without a democratic school'.

6. The possible perverse effects of culture on education were also noted, in varying ways and different contexts, by a number of delegates and observers. One observer, for example, asserted that prevailing cultural practices and interpretations would make it impossible to implement many of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in a large number of countries, particularly as regards the rights of women and minorities. Another speaker pointed to the inherent difficulty of teaching particular values and ethics while, at the same time, respecting the plurality of convictions which reign in society.

7. A number of speakers deplored the tendency to present science and technology as being apart from and opposed to culture rather than as an important part thereof. This same dichotomy, it was noted, pertains in education with scientific and technical education seen as distinct from, rather than part of general education. Several delegates emphasised the need to reconcile and reconstruct education in order that individuals would not be forced to choose between being a humanist or a scientist, but would be encouraged to become both humanist and scientist. It is culture, one delegate insisted, which can link the artificially dissociated domains of education together: the arts with technology, science with poetry and inherited traditions with the creative impulse. He observed that the natural linkage between education and culture had been weakened in most western countries after the Second World War in order to make education the servant of economic development, and both education and culture had been impoverished as a consequence. This linkage, he insisted, must be reestablished.

8. More generally, the neglect of culture in schools was deplored by many speakers. One speaker noted that this may be in part a reaction to an earlier concept of education which perceived its role as that of moulding cultivated and cultured gentlemen, with lithe attention being given to the development of practical skills. But we are now, he continued, in danger of going to She other extreme: to deny culture any role in school and to concentrate instead on utilitarian instruction. Culture, others noted, had been pushed out of the school and was often confined to specialised institutions open only to a small elite. Still others noted that many societies are experiencing a cultural renaissance, but that This has penetrated into schools and educational institutions only to a very limited degree. There was agreement on the need to reestablish the links between education and culture in order that the former could contribute more effectively to the latter while drawing strength and purpose from it. Many delegates observed that She theme of the Conference was especially timely and would provoke a thoughtful reconsideration of the vital interaction between education and culture.

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