The United Nations General Assembly, it will be recalled, designated, in a resolution, 1970 as “International Education Year”. This decision was taken primarily in recognition of the urgent global need to formulate new educational systems and methods in educational administration and guidance. Member states of the United Nations Organization are in the process of implementing this resolution in co-operation with UNESCO. In addition, UNESCO member states and other interested organizations are conducting researches on methods to improve and upgrade educational systems and administration, to increase budgetary allocations for universal education and to strengthen international co-operation in the field of education so that the goals outlined in the International Education Year can be realised.
The acute problems related to education are manifested in the fact that today two-thirds of the population of the world are denied educational opportunities while the present educational systems are being questioned and criticised. These immense educational problems cannot be solved overnight but need continued study and appraisal, and in this regard the United Nations Organization deserves credit for focusing world attention on educational problems.
Despite the enormity of the problems, the ever increasing quest for education is a trend which we all welcome. In particular, the developing countries, such as Ethiopia, have and are continuing, to give priority to education and educational facilities and to allocate a high proportion of their revenue to education in order to speed up the development process. To cite a specific example in this connection, world-wide study on student population shows a marked increase in the number of African students, particularly in the secondary and higher learning institutions, a result which should be a source of pride. In Africa, too, there is close co-operation and collaboration in the field of education. these results cannot be considered as final, rather they should be taken as stepping stones and as a driving force to improve and strengthen educational systems and administration.
National UNESCO Commission
It will be recalled that we ordered the establishment of the National Educational Commission of Ethiopia in June, 1968, long before the U.N. resolution on the International Educational Year was passed. The directives of the commission were to formulate and define the objectives of education in Ethiopia, methods to expand education and educational facilities in the country to speed up the development process and the integration of education in social life. The spirit of these directives is similar to those of the U.N. resolution on education. In addition, a special commission has been set up to co-ordinate the implementation of this important resolution on International Education Year. The special commission and the office of the National UNESCO Commission will conduct appropriate programmes such as public discussion on education and related subjects, and special stamps will be issued marking the International Education Year as well as following closely what is being done in other countries in this connection.
While speaking today about the spirit and aspiration of the International Education Year, it is appropriate to mention here the Annual International Literacy Day which was observed, for the fourth time, on September 8, 1970 throughout the world.
In 1967, the government of Iran founded the Mohammed Raza Pahlevi Prize, given through UNESCO, to honor and encourage countries, individuals and organisations which had significantly contributed in the campaign to eliminate illiteracy. We have spoken on the merits of that prize, the inspiring example of which has been followed by the government of the Soviet Union in its Nadezhda Krupskaya Prize, also given through UNESCO, for which it deserves credit, In 1967, 1968, and 1970, organizations in Ethiopia were awarded medals and certificates, and won honorable mention from the Pahlevi Foundation for their effective campaigns against illiteracy. The adult literacy campaign launched in Ethiopia under the supervision of the ministry of Education and Fine Arts and through the collaboration and assistance of government and private organisations is conducting satisfactory educational programmes. The results achieved from year to year and particularly in the last year have been encouraging and augur well for the future.
We have always encouraged and impressed upon our people the importance of education, and today, while speaking on the International Education Year and on the international Literacy Day which was observed on September 8th, We wish to reiterate our conviction that education is a collective responsibility affecting every Ethiopian family.
The objectives of the International Education Year are to modernize and improve educational systems and administration for the need of the times, to produce the necessary manpower for national development and to formulate new educational means and ways to strengthen international co-operation and to safeguard mankind. On this occasion, We urge Our people to strive collectively to achieve these objectives through the expansion of education and educational facilities.
October 9, 1970