Our Education Programme

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UNESCO believes access to quality education throughout our life is a fundamental human right, regardless of our background and is an essential bedrock to building peace and delivering development.

The seeds of UNESCO’s work were formed in the minds of ministers of education during the Second World War and UNESCO has galvanised international collaboration on education through its standard setting frameworks and monitoring, the Education for All programme and its global action plan on Education for Sustainable Development.

Now, as the only United Nations body with a mandate that covers all aspects of education, UNESCO has been entrusted with leading and monitoring worldwide action to deliver the targets in the Sustainable Development Goal on quality education for all.

The UK and devolved Governments are committed to fulfilling UNESCO’s action on education globally by providing equal and quality education, ensuring that everyone has the chance to reach their potential and live a more fulfilled life.

Legal Framework

UNESCO establishes an international normative framework for education through Conventions, Recommendations, and other agreements. The Conventions and agreements help develop national education policies and set-up international frameworks for collaboration between researchers.

Policy Advice

The UK National Commission for UNESCO informs and advises on international and domestic education policy to UNESCO and UK Government. The education programme cuts across the work of the departments for education in the four nations of the UK and the Department for International Development.

Since 1946, the UK National Commission for UNESCO has been ensuring the UK’s leading specialists, intellectuals and academics are contributing to and shaping UNESCO’s education mandate. We also advise the UK and devolved governments on policy relating to UNESCO’s education activities.

The UK National Commission has produced and published several policy briefs and documents that cover education. These inform UK Government about the international opportunities in UNESCO’s programmatic sphere, opportunities and guidance on the implementation of more of UNESCO’s Education conventions and recommendations, and evaluating UNESCO’s global role in education.

Expert Network

Every accredited expert within our network is tasked with a specific committee or programme within UNESCO’s framework. Our Expert Network is made up of specialists who help to advise the UK and Devolved Governments on policy relating to UNESCO’s programmes. Joseph Nhan-O’Reilly, is our Non-Executive Director who has shared responsibility of the Education portfolio.

The relevant UK government department approves Accredited Experts. They have an official role, representing the UK in UNESCO Committees, Commissions and Programmes. They also work with us and the UK Permanent Delegation to UNESCO based with the Department for International Development in London and Paris, to advise the UK and/or devolved governments on UNESCO related matters.

   Explore our Expert Network        

The UNESCO Chair/UNITWIN programme seeks to foster international cooperation and knowledge sharing between higher education institutions. UNESCO Chairs are based within an Institute for Higher Education, and their work identifies with a current UNESCO priority.

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Sites & Initiatives

UNESCO’s global presence in education is represented by several sites and initiatives in the UK. All UNESCO sites within the UK have a focus on education, for their local communities and further afield. UNESCO also has some sites and initiatives dedicated to education present in the UK:

All UNESCO sites have an educational focus, but the UK’s Learning Cities in particular recognise the transformative power of education for their residents of all ages, and strive to create and promote learning opportunities for everyone; by addressing barriers to participation, narrowing the gap between rich and poor, enhancing social cohesion and helping to fulfill their citizens aspirations.

Discover or Learning Cities        

The UNESCO Associated Schools Programme (ASPnet) links educational institutions across the world around a common goal: to build the defences of peace in the minds of children and young people. The over 11,500 ASPnet member schools in 182 countries work in support of international understanding, peace, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and quality education in practice.

More about the ASPnet programme

UNESCO Prizes are prestigious awards addressing global issues and themes, which are conferred on individuals or organisations by the Director-General for UNESCO upon recommendation by an independent and international jury. They each carry a high symbolic value, and are awarded with a substantial monetary award.

Discover UNESCO Prizes        

At their root, UN International Days contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. International days are at the heart of the United Nations Charter.

Discover UNESCO International Days        

Discover our Communication & Information Programme

   Explore our Communication & Information Programme