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16th UNESCO-APEID International Conference, 21/22/23-Nov-2012, Bangkok, Thailand

© Sirisak Chaiyasook

Education holds the key to a brighter future for many people. Stories of how parents struggle to keep their sons and daughters in school to escape the poverty trap are found all over the world. As a passport to better livelihoods, education has helped to spur human resource development and economic progress in both developed and developing countries. Not surprisingly, the education sector is under great pressure to develop the human capital in order to increase national wealth. 

The education systems in many countries rely on examinations and tests to measure learning outcomes and accomplishments. Through such assessment tools and technologies, governments are able to evaluate and benchmark the quality of their education systems, and to review and reform them accordingly to meet their needs. 

While grades and degrees received are important indicators, policy makers, educators, parents and the general public are increasingly recognizing the importance of the non-cognitive aspects of learning, such as values, ethics, social responsibility and civic engagement. 

In 1996, the UNESCO International Commission on Education for the 21st Century released an inspirational report Learning: The Treasure Within which presented a vision of education based on four pillars of learning: learning to live together, learning to know, learning to do and learning to be. The report emphasized that the survival of humanity is highly dependent on learning how to live together, beginning by understanding and accepting other people and their history, cultures, traditions and values. 

The world has changed in many ways since then. Much has been accomplished, but a lot more needs to be done to translate the idealistic vision of education into actions on the ground. The clamour for education to foster more humanistic and sustainable lifestyles has highlighted a need to better understand how education systems – from the curricula, pedagogies, school environment and settings, assessments and extra-curricular activities – can concretely bridge theories and practices.

UNESCO, the Ministry of Education in Thailand, the Asian-Pacific Network for International Education and Values (APNIEVE), Pearson Thailand and J.P. Morgan are convening the 16th UNESCO-APEID International Conference, The Heart of Education: Learning to Live Together, to facilitate discussions on leading-edge thinking about learning, reflect on the linkages between learning and social development, explore approaches and tools to enhance learning, and identify enabling policies and instruments to promote learning to live together.

“Education … the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
Paulo Freire