No doubt, planning does not create development, but development demands planning. In addition, planning is an intellectual discipline that requires governments to think of the present in terms of the future and to think of the future in terms of deliberate choices.
-René Maheu, Director-General of UNESCO, First session of the IIEP Governing Board, 1963.
A wind of change
The 1950s and 1960s witnessed sweeping transformations throughout the world, from the European reconstruction to the development of newly independent states, all having huge implications for education.
Education was recognized by the international community as a fundamental human right for all, following the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). However, during the post-war years, states also came to consider the strong nexus existing between education and economic growth; education became regarded an investment for national advancement. Coupled with an overwhelming increase in popular demand for education, these factors gave birth to the field of educational planning, on which high expectations were placed.
The creation of an autonomous entity dedicated to educational planning
In June 1962, a Consultative Committee met at UNESCO to discuss the establishment of an international institute that would undertake research and training in the field. It was agreed that the new institution should be multidisciplinary in character; enable experts to work and teach together and practitioners to take courses and gather useful experiences; finally that it should be truly autonomous in its statutes, governing board, programme, premises, staff, budget and goals. Indeed, autonomy was viewed as providing a mechanism by which IIEP could “achieve the intellectual stature which was expected of it” (René Maheu, Director-General of UNESCO, Working Party on IIEP, 1962), namely bridging gaps among international institutions concerned with the field of educational planning, while at the same time enhancing UNESCO’s leading role in education and exploring new policy research topics.
A multifaceted, multilevel institute
"The Institute “is not an island; it can be seen as a bridge”
-Gudmund Hernes, former IIEP Director
Through its networking activities and partnerships, IIEP not only provides training and support but it also serves as a catalyst, encouraging and facilitating a flow of information and know-how between the Member States that it serves.
Developing a presence where it's most needed
Identifying a need to address the profound changes occurring in Latin American countries’ educational systems in the 1990s, UNESCO decided to establish an IIEP regional office in Argentina. Since 1998, IIEP-Buenos Aires’s work has centered on the topics of quality education and the key role of teachers. It has since evolved and grown in parallel with the regional Member States’ changing demands for guidance on education reforms. Its activities are developed through training programmes, education trend monitoring, technical assistance projects, research and evaluations.
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The Pôle de Dakar of the IIEP is a platform for expertise in education policy analysis. The Pôle works with ministries in charge of education and offers technical expertise to all African countries. The services offered by the Pôle de Dakar are organized upon request from governments or development partners as part of an overall approach to national capacity building.
Founded in 2001, the Pôle de Dakar activities contribute to UNESCO’s support for the development of effective, feasible, equitable and endogenous education policies in Africa.