Sunday, July 31, 2016




adopted by the


Higher Education in the Twenty-First Century:
Vision and Action

9 October 1998

Owing to the scope and pace of change, society has become increasingly knowledge-based so that higher learning and research now act

as essential components of cultural, socio-economic and environmentally sustainable development of individuals, communities and


Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states in Article 26, paragraph 1, that ‘Everyone has the right to

education’ and that ‘higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit’, and endorsing the basic principles

of the Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960), which, by Article 4, commits the States Parties to it to ‘make higher

education equally accessible to all on the basis of individual capacity’,

Convinced that education is a fundamental pillar of human rights, democracy, sustainable development and peace, and shall therefore

become accessible to all throughout life and that measures are required to ensure co-ordination and co-operation across and between

the various sectors, particularly between general, technical and professional secondary and post-secondary education as well as

between universities, colleges and technical institutions,


Article 1 - Mission to educate, to train and to undertake research

Article 1 - Mission to educate, to train and to undertake research

We affirm that the core missions and values of higher education, in particular the mission to contribute to the sustainable development and improvement of society as a whole, should be preserved, reinforced and further expanded, namely, to:

(a) educate highly qualified graduates and responsible citizens able to meet the needs of all sectors of human activity, by offering relevant qualifications, including professional training, which combine high-level knowledge and skills, using courses and content continually tailored to the present and future needs of society;

(b) provide opportunities (espace ouvert) for higher learning and for learning throughout life, giving to learners an optimal range of choice and a flexibility of entry and exit points within the system, as well as an opportunity for individual development and social mobility in order to educate for citizenship and for active participation in society, with a worldwide vision, for endogenous capacity-building, and for the consolidation of human rights, sustainable development, democracy and peace, in a context of justice;

(c) advance, create and disseminate knowledge through research and provide, as part of its service to the community, relevant expertise to assist societies in cultural, social and economic development, promoting and developing scientific and technological research as well as research in the social sciences, the humanities and the creative arts;

(d) help understand, interpret, preserve, enhance, promote and disseminate national and regional, international and historic cultures, in a context of cultural pluralism and diversity;

(e) help protect and enhance societal values by training young people in the values which form the basis of democratic citizenship and by providing critical and detached perspectives to assist in the discussion of strategic options and the reinforcement of humanistic perspectives;

(f) contribute to the development and improvement of education at all levels, including through the training of teachers.

Article 2 - Ethical role, autonomy, responsibility and anticipatory function

In accordance with the Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel approved by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1997, higher education institutions and their personnel and students should:

(a) preserve and develop their crucial functions, through the exercise of ethics and scientific and intellectual rigour in their various activities;

(b) be able to speak out on ethical, cultural and social problems completely independently and in full awareness of their responsibilities, exercising a kind of intellectual authority that society needs to help it to reflect, understand and act;

(c) enhance their critical and forward-looking functions, through continuing analysis of emerging social, economic, cultural and political trends, providing a focus for forecasting, warning and prevention;

(d) exercise their intellectual capacity and their moral prestige to defend and actively disseminate universally accepted values, including peace, justice, freedom, equality and solidarity, as enshrined in UNESCO’s Constitution;

(e) enjoy full academic autonomy and freedom, conceived as a set of rights and duties, while being fully responsible and accountable to society;

(f) play a role in helping identify and address issues that affect the well-being of communities, nations and global society.


Article 3 - Equity of access
Article 4 - Enhancing participation and promoting the role of women
Article 5 - Advancing knowledge through research in science, the arts and humanities and the dissemination of its results
Article 6 - Long-term orientation based on relevance
Article 7 - Strengthening co-operation with the world of work and analysing and anticipating societal needs
Article 8 - Diversification for enhanced equity of opportunity

Article 9 - Innovative educational approaches: critical thinking and creativity
(a) In a world undergoing rapid changes, there is a perceived need for a new vision and paradigm of higher education, which should be

student-oriented, calling in most countries for in-depth reforms and an open access policy so as to cater for ever more diversified

categories of people, and of its contents, methods, practices and means of delivery, based on new types of links and partnerships

with the community and with the broadest sectors of society.

(b) Higher education institutions should educate students to become well informed and deeply motivated citizens, who can think

critically, analyse problems of society, look for solutions to the problems of society, apply them and accept social


(c) To achieve these goals, it may be necessary to recast curricula, using new and appropriate methods, so as to go beyond cognitive

mastery of disciplines. New pedagogical and didactical approaches should be accessible and promoted in order to facilitate the

acquisition of skills, competences and abilities for communication, creative and critical analysis, independent thinking and team

work in multicultural contexts, where creativity also involves combining traditional or local knowledge and know-how with advanced

science and technology. These recast curricula should take into account the gender dimension and the specific cultural, historic and

economic context of each country. The teaching of human rights standards and education on the needs of communities in all parts of

the world should be reflected in the curricula of all disciplines, particularly those preparing for entrepreneurship. Academic

personnel should play a significant role in determining the curriculum.

(d) New methods of education will also imply new types of teaching-learning materials. These have to be coupled with new methods of

testing that will promote not only powers of memory but also powers of comprehension, skills for practical work and creativity.

Article 10 - Higher education personnel and students as major actors


Article 11 - Qualitative evaluation (Quality Evaluation
(a) Quality in higher education is a multidimensional concept, which should embrace all its functions, and activities: teaching and

academic programmes, research and scholarship, staffing, students, buildings, facilities, equipment, services to the community and

the academic environment. Internal self-evaluation and external review, conducted openly by independent specialists, if possible with

international expertise, are vital for enhancing quality. Independent national bodies should be established and comparative standards

of quality, recognized at international level, should be defined. Due attention should be paid to specific institutional, national

and regional contexts in order to take into account diversity and to avoid uniformity. Stakeholders should be an integral part of the

institutional evaluation process.

(b) Quality also requires that higher education should be characterized by its international dimension: exchange of knowledge,

interactive networking, mobility of teachers and students, and international research projects, while taking into account the

national cultural values and circumstances.

(c) To attain and sustain national, regional or international quality, certain components are particularly relevant, notably careful

selection of staff and continuous staff development, in particular through the promotion of appropriate programmes for academic staff

development, including teaching/learning methodology and mobility between countries, between higher education institutions, and

between higher education institutions and the world of work, as well as student mobility within and between countries. The new

information technologies are an important tool in this process, owing to their impact on the acquisition of knowledge and know-how.
Article 12 - The potential and the challenge of technology
Article 13 - Strengthening higher education management and financing
Article 14 - Financing of higher education as a public service
Article 15 - Sharing knowledge and know-how across borders and continents
Article 16 - From ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain gain’
Article 17 - Partnership and alliances

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