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History of the education sector

©UNESCO/Seymoiur, David
Class for adults. A mother with her child reading in a class. (Italy)

In 1942, towards the end of the Second World War, the governments of European countries then confronting Nazi Germany met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME). They wished to reconstruct their education systems when peace was restored.  

Upon the proposal of CAME, a UN Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) was convened in London from 1 to 16 November 1945, just after the war. Representatives of 44 countries decided to create an organization to establish the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind”.  

At the end of this conference, 37 countries founded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which was established by the UN General Assembly on November 16, 1945. The Constitution of UNESCO was signed on the same day, and came into force on 4 November 1946 after ratification by 20 countries.

The main predecessors of UNESCO were

  • the International Committee of Intellectual Co-operation (CICI), Geneva 1922-1946, and its executing agency, the International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation (IICI), Paris, 1925-1946.
  • the International Bureau of Education (IBE), Geneva, 1925-1968. Since 1969 IBE has been part of the UNESCO Secretariat under its own statutes.



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