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The main purpose of UNESCO, according to its Constitution, is to contribute to peace and security by promoting the collaboration of nations through education, science and culture, in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms for the peoples of the world, regardless of race, sex, language or religion. One of the basic aims of the Organization has always been the promotion of peace and international co-operation through education. After its foundation in 1946, educators working with UNESCO produced an impressive number of new ideas and suggestions concerning the education of young people for international understanding.

In order to translate these ideas into concrete action, UNESCO launched the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) in 1953. As of September 2005, it includes over 7793 educational institutions, ranging from pre-school education to teacher training in 175 countries.

Associated Schools commit to promoting the ideals of UNESCO by conducting pilot projects in favour of better preparing children and young people to meet effectively the challenges of an increasingly complex and interdependent world. The new ASPnet Strategy and Plan of Action (2004-2009) places emphasis on reinforcing the four pillars of Learning for the 21st Century (learning to know, to do, to be and to live together) and promoting quality education as outlined in the Dakar Framework of Action. ASPnet teachers and students have many opportunities to work together beyond their classrooms to develop innovative educational approaches, methods and materials from local to global levels.

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