Building peace in the minds of men and women

60 years of existence for the Associated Schools Network

The UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) is the world’s largest network of schools and is one of UNESCO’s most fruitful and sustained initiatives. Starting with 33 schools in 15 Member States in 1953, the Network comprises today - in its 60th year of existence - more than 9700 educational institutions in 180 countries committed to fostering critical thinking, learning through dialogue, mutual respect and solidarity.

Over the years, ASPnet facilitated numerous national, regional and global partnerships between its member institutions and is a leading partner in the promotion of quality education worldwide, in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the EFA goals (especially goals 3 and 6).   

Bringing together teachers and students from all horizons, it is a laboratory of new approaches for quality education.  Its member institutions constantly identify, experiment, evaluate and apply innovative educational methods and content that prepare learners for active participation in society. 

The Network focuses on four themes:  

  • World concerns and the role of the United Nations;
  • Education for Sustainable Development;
  • Peace and Human Rights; and
  • Intercultural Learning.

The ASPnet is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year with ASPnet Schools and UNESCO National Commissions across the world organising events that pay tribute to the achievements of the Network. 

One of the main events around the Anniversary is the International Forum “UNESCO ASPnet for Global Citizenship: Peace Education and Education for Sustainable Development” (7 to 9 September 2013; Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, Republic of Korea).  

During the three days of the Forum, the ASPnet National Coordinators and teachers from more than 55 different countries attending the event will have the chance to share experiences, exchange, discuss, design new partnerships, reinforce established ones and plan the future of the Network.  

The theme of the forum - Education for Global Citizenship - echoes the Network’s continuous contribution to the emergence and education of responsible, global citizens. 

Education for Global Citizenship is directly linked to the realisation of peace and sustainable development. It not only enables young people to comprehend the global forces which shape their lives; but it also permits them to acquire the knowledge, skills, values, attitudes and behaviour which will allow them to actively participate in local and global decision-making in order to promote a more respectful, equitable and sustaina­ble “Living Together”. Therefore, Peace Education and Education for Sustainable Development – since long priorities of UNESCO and of the ASPnet – are essential parts of Global Citizenship Education, and act as an entry point in order to empower all learners to be proactive contributors to a globalised, peaceful society. 

The Forum is organised by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU) and the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education in collaboration with UNESCO and the Korean Ministry of Education.  

Many other national and regional initiatives are contributing to the Anniversary celebrations. In Cuba, national ASPnet teachers gathered for a 5-day seminar on the International Year of Water Cooperation and by the same token marked their 20 years of active ASPnet membership. The two sub- regional networks in Africa organized a regional consultation in Togo to share experiences gained. Portugal and Spain invited ASPnet schools worldwide to collect poems in several languages on the common study themes of the Network. Omani ASPnet students invited pupils from 8 European countries to the desert of Oman with the idea of supporting intercultural dialogue – to mention just a few examples!