LETTERHEAD OF UNESCO DATE: August 31, 1994 FROM: Colin N. Power, Assistant Director-General for Education (ADG/ED) TO: Takeshi Utsumi, Chairman, GLOSAS/USA
Dear Dr Utsumi,
Thank you very much for your letter and report of 17 August, 1994 and the videotape.
I am pleased to hear that your "Global Lecture Hall" videoconference was successful. Your report contained interesting details on how the transmission was received in various parts of the world. I would appreciate to be informed of your future events in this field.
Enclosed please find a copy of the requested transcript for your GLOSAS News and further distribution. An additional copy will be mailed to you.
With best wishes.
Colin N. Power, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO
[Videotape message to the International Conference on Distance Education in Russia (7 July, 1994)]
On behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, it is a great honour and pleasure for me to address the distinguished participants of the First International Conference on Distance Education in Russia and all those connected with the satellite transmission in other regions of the world.
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNESCO, which presently comprises 182 Member States, has a universal mandate and commitment to the provision of education for all.
The organization has early recognized the important contribution that open and distance education can make in this respect. UNESCO's General Conferences, Conferences of Ministers of Education and the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien have stressed the need to make greater use of distance education delivery systems.
Due attention to new delivery systems is also given within the framework of the International Commission on Education for the 21st Century. Our concern is to adapt educational structures, contents and methods to the requirements of the next century. Also the "Learning without Frontiers" -- programme envisions world-wide networks of open learning and distance education to reach those who until now have been deprived of learning opportunities.
What gives urgency to these concerns is the rapid development of information and communication technologies which presents a global challenge to all education. Indeed, the means of communication have developed more rapidly than education's capacity to make use of them.
Therefore, the central issue is how to ensure that the new communication means are available while reducing the costs involved. These are vital problems especially to the newly independent countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and in other less affluent Third World Countries.
UNESCO is fully aware of the challenges ahead. At its 1980 General Conference, the Organization adopted a resolution recommending that member States apply special tariffs to press agencies and other media in the developing countries for the transmission of press bulletins and television news. This led to further work by UNESCO and ITU to examine and decrease the economic constraints to the effective use of telecommunications in education, science, culture and in the circulation of information. The recent ITU/UNESCO Telecommunication Development Conference was properly based on a study: "The Right to Communicate -- at what price?"
Therefore, there is a need for improved dialogue between governments, telecommunication systems and educators, in general, and in the Third World, in particular. The shared use of communication technologies deserves to be singled out as an important policy issue among decisionmakers. The "information superhighway" should not be narrowed to a village path, because there are no opportunities for participation.
The question, therefore, is how to bring together those who provide education for all and those who possess the technologies to reach all. lt is precisely this capacity of reaching new groups of potential learners, without the constraints of time and space, that makes telecommunication media an attractive and increasingly indispensable partner to education. If a wider access to them can be ensured, electronic distance education will undoubtedly be expanded to all regions, and before long they will become as normal a part of education systems as are now textbooks, calculators and computers.
While the space is being turned into a global network of communication, the actual human needs continue to be down-to-earth, peace being the most obvious one. The use of communication networks to foster international understanding and cooperation towards a global citizenship is very much within the framework of UNESCO's mandate as an organization of peace.
Education, science and culture through which UNESCO's founders aimed to pursue peace are all affected by new communication technologies. The former one-way traffic, whereby learners physically had to go to institutions of education, culture and science if they wished to profit from them, is giving way to a two-way traffic, whereby education, science and culture will go to learners if learners cannot go to them. This historically significant development towards greater mobility of delivery systems, which frees learners from the constraints of time and place, will open up a number of structural and methodological possibilities for learning.
An example at hand is this First International Conference on Distance Education in Russia, which is an encouraging step into the future. I would like to congratulate the Russian initiators and organizers for having established the Association for International Education and for having convened this important Conference. lt seems to me that the rapidly changing Russian society is being matched by corresponding initiatives to cope with it.
Another initiative that makes this global transmission possible is the one taken by the University of Tennessee, USA, which is the origination of the present telecast. The University has indeed chosen appropriate way to celebrate its 200th anniversary of its founding by building an electronic bridge to its partner-institute in Russia.
I believe that still more bridges need to be built, electronically and otherwise, to cope with the challenge caused by numerous conflict situations, problems of hunger, economic recession, unemployment, environment and others. All these have their impact on the form and content of education. The question is then not only how to communicate but also what to communicate. The ultimate aim goes beyond communication itself to generate a communion, the sharing of universally accepted values based on peace and international understanding.
As in the past fifty years, UNESCO is now more determined than ever to contribute to that aim, towards a unique culture of peace.
Thank you for giving me an opportunity to share these thoughts with you, and kindly accept my best wishes to the success of your important Conference.
Colin N. Power, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO
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GLOSAS NEWS was orinally posted to the WWW at URL: http://library.fortlewis.edu/~instruct/glosas/cont.htm by Tina Evans Greenwood, Library Instruction Coordinator, Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado 81301, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, and last updated May 7, 1999. By her permission the whole Website has been archived here at the University of Tennessee server directory of GLOSAS Chair Dr. Takeshi Utsumi from July 10, 2000 by Steve McCarty in Japan.