"Towards a new vision of education": From Jomtien (1990) to Incheon (2015)

Hacia una nueva visión de la educación: De la Declaración de Jomtien (1990) a la Declaración de Incheon (2015)

In 1990, the World Declaration on Education for All approved at the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien-Thailand, 5-9 March 1990) proposed "an expanded vision of basic education" focused on the satisfaction of basic learning needs of all, children, young people and adults, in and out of the school system. Basic education was seen as the foundation of lifelong learning.

In 2015, the Incheon Declaration: Education 2030 approved at the World Education Forum (Incheon, South Korea, 21 May 2015) proposed a "new vision of education" at the heart of which is the adoption of a "lifelong learning approach", that is, an approach that views learning as a continuum, from birth to death, in and out of the education system (formal, non-formal and informal learning).

Jomtien's 'expanded vision of basic education' did not materialize in reality. The implementation of Education for All (EFA) and its six goals ended up focusing on formal education and on primary education for children, leaving aside the goals related to early childhood and to adulthood. This happened again in the extension of EFA until the year 2015 decided at the World Education Forum (Dakar, Senegal, 2000). The year 2015 found the world with an unfinished EFA agenda.

Will the "new vision of education" and the adoption of a "lifelong learning approach" proposed at Incheon be able to become a reality and meet the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) and its 10 targets until 2030?

Below are the texts of both Declarations. 

World Declaration on Education for All. Meeting Basic Learning Needs (World Conference on Education for All, Jomtien-Thailand, 5-9 March 1990)

1. Every person - child, youth and adult - shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs. These needs comprise both essential learning tools (such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy, and problem solving) and the basic learning content (such as knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes) required by human beings to be able to survive, to develop their full capacities, to live and work in dignity, to participate fully in development, to improve the quality of their lives, to make informed decisions, and to continue learning. The scope of basic learning needs and how they should be met varies with individual countries and cultures, and inevitably, changes with the passage of time.

2. The satisfaction of these needs empowers individuals in any society and confers upon them a responsibility to respect and build upon their collective cultural, linguistic and spiritual heritage, to promote the education of others, to further the cause of social justice, to achieve environmental protection, to be tolerant towards social, political and religious systems which differ from their own, ensuring that commonly accepted humanistic values and human rights are upheld, and to work for international peace and solidarity in an interdependent world.

3. Another and no less fundamental aim of educational development is the transmission and enrichment of common cultural and moral values. It is in these values that the individual and society find their identity and worth.

4. Basic education is more than an end in itself. It is the foundation for lifelong learning and human development on which countries may build, systematically, further levels and types of education and training.

5. To serve the basic learning needs of all requires more than a recommitment to basic education  as it now exists. What is needed is an “expanded vision” that surpasses present resource levels, institutional structures, curricula, and conventional delivery systems while building on the best in current practices.

New possibilities exist today which result from the convergence of the increase in information and the unprecedented capacity to communicate. We must seize them with creativity and a determination for increased effectiveness.

The expanded vision encompasses:
- Universalizing access and promoting equity;
- Focusing on learning;
- Broadening the means and scope of basic education;
- Enhancing the environment for learning;
- Strengthening partnerships."

The full text of the Declaration can be found here.

Incheon Declaration - Education 2030 . Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all(World Education Forum, Incheon, South Korea, 21 May, 2015)


1. We, Ministers, heads and members of delegations, heads of agencies and officials of multilateral and bilateral organizations, and representatives of civil society, the teaching profession, youth and the private sector, have gathered in May 2015 at the invitation of the Director-General of UNESCO in Incheon, Republic of Korea, for the World Education Forum 2015 (WEF 2015). We thank the Government and the people of the Republic of Korea for having hosted this important event as well as UNICEF, the World Bank, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women and UNHCR, as the co-convenors of this meeting, for their contributions.

We express our sincere appreciation to UNESCO for having initiated and led the convening of this milestone event for Education 2030.

2. On this historic occasion, we reaffirm the vision of the worldwide movement for Education for All initiated in Jomtien in 1990 and reiterated in Dakar in 2000 — the most important commitment to education in recent decades and which has helped drive significant progress in education. We also reaffirm the vision and political will reflected in numerous international and regional human rights
treaties that stipulate the right to education and its interrelation with other human rights. We acknowledge the efforts made; however, we recognize with great concern that we are far from having reached education for all.

3. We recall the Muscat Agreement developed through broad consultations and adopted at the Global Education for All (EFA) Meeting 2014, and which successfully informed the proposed education targets of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We further recall the
outcomes of the regional ministerial conferences on education post-2015 and take note of the findings of the 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report and the Regional EFA Synthesis Reports. We recognize the important contribution of the Global Education First Initiative as well as the role of governments and regional, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations in galvanizing political
commitment for education.

4. Having taken stock of progress made towards the EFA goals since 2000 and the education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the lessons learned, and having examined the remaining challenges and deliberated on the proposed 2030 education agenda and the Framework for Action as well as on future priorities and strategies for its achievement, we adopt this Declaration.

Towards 2030: a new vision for education

5. Our vision is to transform lives through education, recognizing the important role of education as a main driver of development and in achieving the other proposed SDGs. We commit with a sense of urgency to a single, renewed education agenda that is holistic, ambitious and aspirational, leaving no one behind. This new vision is fully captured by the proposed SDG 4 “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all ” and its corresponding targets. It is transformative and universal, attends to the ‘unfinished business’ of the EFA agenda and the education-related MDGs, and addresses global and national education challenges. It is inspired by a humanistic vision of education and development based on human rights and dignity; social justice; inclusion; protection; cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity; and shared responsibility and accountability. We reaffirm that education is a public good, a fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realization of other rights. It is essential for peace, tolerance, human fulfilment and sustainable development. We recognize education as key to achieving full employment and poverty eradication. We will focus our efforts on access, equity and inclusion, quality and learning outcomes, within a lifelong learning approach."

The full text of the Declaration can be found here.

Related texts in this blog

- The six Education for All goals
- ¿Qué es el Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la Vida (ALV)?

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