UNESCO’s Fundamental Education Program, 1946–1958: Vision, Actions and Impact

  • Jens Boel


Fundamental education was part of UNESCO’s initial program adopted by the General Conference in 1946. This chapter explores its origins, vision, scope and activities until the General Conference in 1958 decided to abandon the concept of fundamental education.1 No decision was taken on what should replace it and in practice no single term was chosen. “Out of school education” and “community development” were widely used as direct replacements.2 The already well-established “adult education” was also used for some activities that would before 1958 most likely have been called “fundamental education”. For the purpose of this chapter it therefore makes sense to end at that point, although the idea of fundamental education as a way of addressing the broad needs of communities rather than implementing standardized, specific solutions remained important for UNESCO’s work in education in the years that followed.


Member State Community Development Pilot Project Adult Education Happy Life 
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  1. 10.
    Fundamental Education: Common Ground for All Peoples, 19. The quote is from Pearl S. Buck, Tell the People (New York: John Day Co., 1945), 11.Google Scholar
  2. 40.
    For an interesting and critical reflection on early UNESCO fundamental education activities, see: Glenda Sluga, Internationalism in the Age of Nationalism (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Press, 2013), 108–111.Google Scholar

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© Jens Boel 2016

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  • Jens Boel

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