order to prepare our children properly for tomorrow's world, we
must discern among the agitations and headlines of the day those
trends and tendencies which are fundamental to our time and put
aside the accidental, secondary, ephemeral and anachronistic.
strikes us most in recent years is that, since the last world
war, humankind has entered a totally new era of history, perhaps
even of evolution. During this period man has advanced dramatically
into the infinitely large and the infinitely small. More scientific
progress has been achieved in the last thirty years than during
the entire previous history of mankind. Instruments, linked by
instant communication to our planet, have been sent farther and
farther away into the universe. Humans have set foot on the moon
and have returned safely to Earth. Outer space is being used for
unprecedented systems of worldwide communication and study of
the earth's resources and physical conditions. More than two thousand
satellites and space objects are circling around the earth. Transportation
has expanded from land and sea to the atmosphere, with ever larger
and faster planes. Man has reached with his tools the abyss of
the seas. We have witnessed the harnessing of atomic energy, the
birth of electronics, of cybernetics, of laser technology and
the unlocking of many mysteries of the infinitely small. Microbiology
has opened up new exhilarating and frightening vistas of scientific
advance with the synthesis of genes. Never on this planet has
there been such intensive research and discovery by so many scientists
in so many lands.
The Industrial Revolution and its recent scientific and technological
acceleration have had far reaching consequences for humankind.
The first effect was an unprecedented improvement in living conditions
on our planet. This improvement is spreading progressively to
the entire world despite regrettable discrepancies and delays.
Length of life has increased, reaching more than seventy years
in many affluent societies. Even in India, life expectancy has
increased from forty to fifty years in two decades. Diseases which
caused great epidemics not long ago have been wiped out. Gigantic
efforts are being made to attack the remaining principle causes
of early death. Thus humanity's death rate has been reduced from
17 per 1,000 in 1950-55 to 13 per 1,000 in 1965-77. The world
is able to feed more than one million additional people a week.
During the last twenty years more than six hundred million newcomers
have been added to the world's literate population.
goods placed at the command of people for their sustenance and
enjoyment have reached phenomenal quantities in some societies.
Thus, to sustain a person in the United States over an average
life span, 56 million gallons of water, 37,000 gallons of gasoline,
5 1/2 tons of meat, 5 1/2 tons of wheat, 9 tons of milk and cream
are required. In the poorer parts of the world the level of consumption
is only a fraction of such figures. But there, too, the amount
of goods placed at the disposal of the individual is on the increase.
The scientific and technical revolution which started two hundred
years ago has spread to most continents and it will encompass,
in the not too distant future, our entire planet.
Its second effect has been the advent of an entirely new period
in world history, namely, the era of mass phenomena due to the
multiplication of human lives. Lower death rates, longer lives
and better lives have brought about the well-known accelerated
growth of the human race. People on our planet have increased
from 2.5 billion in 1951, when the UN published the first world
statistics, to 4.5 billion in 1980. We will be more than 6 billion
people in the year 2000 and a child being born today might live
in a world of 8 billion at the age of sixty it is as if the child
were to witness the landing of several billion more people on
this planet during his lifetime.
statistics published by the United Nations and its specialized
agencies show a doubling or tripling of most world data during
the past twenty years. World industrial production has tripled.
The volume of world exports has quadrupled. Agricultural production
has increased 17 times. The phenomenal growth in the production
of certain commodities is illustrated by petroleum which has increased
5 times; plastic, which has increased 15 times; aluminum 5 times;
cement 4 times; crude steel 28 times; motor vehides 27 times.
There were only 11 cities of more than one million inhabitants
in 1923: there are 160 today and there will be more than 300 in
the year 2000, 40 of which will have more than 10 million inhabitants.
the population increase is greatest in the poorer countries and
the consumption explosion greatest in the developed ones, the
Industrial Revolution will continue its worldwide spread. Higher
population figures will then be accompanied by higher consumption
everywhere, yielding staggering results. This is the new world
into which we have entered. These are the real causes of the various
crises which have lately beset our planet: pressures on the environment,
on resources, the energy crisis, the food crisis, the urban crisis,
third effect has been the advent of an intricate and extremely
dense network of worldwide interdependencies among societies which
until recently were living in relative isolation from each other.
Beyond nature's interdependencies which have always characterized
our planet (the water cyde, the oxygen cycle, the carbon cycle,
the nitrogen cycle, and many other internal links of the biosphere),
the world has suddenly been seized in a rapidly growing web of
manmade interdependencies. Thousands of planes are constantly
in the air, and at certain airports they sometimes wait in queues
for the opening of an air channel. Thousands of ships and trains
are carrying huge quantities of goods from one country to another.
Some seaports cannot catch up with the increase in world trade.
International tourism, congresses, meetings, assistance and studies
are mushrooming. Colossal transnational companies have a foot
in many countries, combining money, labor, resources, and technologies
across national boundaries on a worldwide scale, and taking the
globe as a single market. They begin to dwarf many nations, thus
opening yet another page in the history of power.
interdependencies have forced governments into new collective
thinking and cooperative arrangements which would have been inconceivable
only a few decades ago. The United Nations, as a result, has profoundly
changed. The world organization, strengthened by thirty-two specialized
agencies and world programs, is today concerned with practically
every global problem on earth.
its worldwide data collection, studies and conferences -political,
economic, social, scientific cultural and environmental - the
United Nations has become the greatest observatory and warning
system of planet Earth. Through it, governments are making an
honest effort at cooperation in many fields, although such cooperation
would warrant infinitely more heart, vision and generosity.
such dramatically changed circumstances, which deeply affect our
lives, there is an urgent need for more global education. This
is very important for the future of humanity. How can our children
go to school and learn so much detail about the past, the geography
and the administration of their countries and so little about
the World, its global problems, its interdependencies, its future
and its international institutions? People are astonished by the
sudden emergence of global crises. They wonder how environmental
deterioration could have developed to the point of endangering
life on this planet. They wonder why there is an energy crisis
which had not been foreseen by their governments (but had been
foreseen by the United Nations, which convened, as early as 1961,
the first world conference on new sources of energy). They ask
themselves why bad crops make the prices of the food on their
a sudden world food shortage after surpluses (again nations had
been warned of the danger by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization).
A child born today will be faced as an adult, almost daily, with
problems of a global interdependent nature, be it peace, food,
the quality resources. He will be both an actor and a beneficiary
or a victim in the total world fabric, and he may rightly ask:
"Why was I not warned? Why was I not better educated? Why
did my teachers not tell me about these problems and indicate
my behavior as a member of an interdependent human race?"
It is, therefore, the duty and the self enlightened interest of
governments to educate their children properly about the type
of world in which they are going to live. They must inform the
children of the actions, the endeavors and the recommendations
of their global organizations. They must be prepared to assume
responsibilities for the consequences of their actions and help
in the care of several billion more fellow humans on earth. Many
governments have begun to realize this. In 1974 they created a
United Nations University located in Tokyo, with affiliates in
many countries. In 1979 the UN General Assembly welcomed the decision
by the government of Costa Rica to establish a University of Peace.
Institutes for global education have sprung up, and the UN and
UNESCO are convening meetings of educators to develop global curricula.
In many countries, especially United States, educators feel that
this is new educational trend whose time has come.
United Nations and its specialized agencies have a wealth of data
and knowledge on every conceivable world problem. This source
must be systematically tapped by educators. Time is running short.
Global events are moving fast. It would be more beneficial to
teach children around the world to close their water faucets a
few seconds earlier, and to conserve our resources, than to adopt
intricate legislation or endlessly drill new holes in the ground.
The world will be in great trouble and will not be able to solve
its global problems if citizens are not taught properly from their
earliest youth. This is a great new challenge, a new historical
dimension, and thrilling objective for educators everywhere in
the turmoil, the divisions and perplexities of our time, humanity
is slowly but surely finding the ways, limits and new codes of
behavior which will encompass all races, nations, religions and
ideologies. It is the formulation of these new ethics which will
be the great challenge for the new generation. It will concern
not only man's material fate but also his mental and spiritual
lives. The fulfillment of a human person's earthly destiny, of
his happiness during his short span of life, of his right place
in creation, depends in great degree on his comprehension of the
total web of life and his personal plan and comportment in it.
Former Secretary General U Thant, a teacher, when discussing these
problems, always came back to his fundamental belief that education
held the keys to the future, and that mental fulfillment was superior
to material life, moral qualities superior to mental qualities,
and spiritual fulfillment superior to mental life. In a speech
he made on his religious beliefs in Toronto in 1966 he said:
law of love and compassion for all living creatures is again a
doctrine to which we are all too ready to pay lip service, however,
if it is to become a reality, it requires a process of education,
a veritable mental renaissance. Once it has become a reality,
national as well as international problems will fall into perspective
and become easier to solve. Wars and conflicts, too, will then
become a thing of the past, because wars begin in the minds of
men, and in those minds love and compassion would have built the
defenses of peace."
his farewell address to the United Nations in December 1971, he
"...I have certain priorities in regard to virtues and
human values. An ideal man, or an ideal woman, is one who is endowed
with four attributes, four qualities - physical, intellectual,
moral and spiritual qualities. Of course it is very rare to find
a human being who is endowed with all these qualities but, as
far as priorities are concerned, I would attach greater importance
to intellectual qualities over physical qualities. I would attach
still greater importance to moral qualities over intellectual
qualities. It is far from my intention to denigrate intellectualism,
but I would attach greater importance to moral qualities or moral
virtues over intellectual virtues - moral qualities like love,
compassion, understanding tolerance, the philosophy of 'live and
let live', the ability to understand the other person's point
of view, which are the key to all great religions. And above all,
I would attach the greatest importance to spiritual values, spiritual
qualities. I deliberately avoid using the term 'religion'. I have
in mind the spiritual virtues, faith in oneself, the purity of
one's inner self which to me is the greatest virtue of all. With
this approach, with this philosophy, with this concept alone,
will we be able to fashion the kind of society we want, the society
which was envisaged by the founding fathers of the United Nations."
global education must transcend material, scientific and intellectual
achievements and reach deliberately into the moral and spiritual
spheres. Man has been able to extend the power of his hands with
incredible machines, of his eyes with telescopes and microscopes,
of his ears with telephones, radio and sonars, of his brain with
computers and automation. He must now also extend his heart, his
sentiments, his love and his soul to the entire human family,
to the planet, to the stars, to the universe, to eternity and
must perceive his right, miraculous place in the splendor of God's
creation. We must manage our globe so as to permit the endless
stream of humans admitted to the miracle of life to fulfill their
lives physically, mentally, morally and spiritually as has never
been possible before in our entire evolution. Global education
must prepare our children for the coming of an interdependent,
safe, prosperous, friendly, loving, happy planetary age as has
been heralded by all great prophets. The real, the great period
of human fulfillment on planet Earth is only now about to begin.