Let us all begin now to give basic education to all disadvantaged groups and give it equitably, regardless of gender or economic status, geographical location, or physical or intellectual disability.
One of the strongest and most consistent messages from delegates throughout the World Conference was that basic education is concerned with equity, with reducing disparities in educational opportunity between population groups. It should begin with, and respond to, the needs of the neediest. Whether urban, rural or nomadic, whether displaced or handicapped, all people have a fundamental right to education.
Disparity - the drama of underdevelopment
Some of the most forceful statements pinpointed the great disparity in access to quality education between girls and boys, men and women:
The largest number of the world's illiterates is women and this is a culpable negligence that we must all acknowledge and strive hardest to rectify.
We have to keep reiterating this point and putting the institutions of our societies at the forefront in rectifying the appalling situation that exists.
There can be no question that an Islamic outlook urges equal opportunity and equality of provision of literacy and education for men and women.
The debate by delegates about equitable access also revolved around the issue of language of instruction:
We draw attention to research which indicates the most effective early reading instruction is in the mother tongue... If we must achieve education for all in the year 2000 it has to be in the mother tongue.
According to one delegate, initial literacy in a language that the individual speaks facilitates better acquisition of literacy, numeracy, general cognitive development and learning.
It should be clear, therefore, that in a multilingual society, no uniform method can be presented for the solution of the language problem.
However, the economic and political realities in instituting language policy were appreciated by one speaker who recognized the difficult decision facing a government in a multilingual situation, as to the feasibility of development and production of several different curricula.