Image: Moscow State Pedagogical University's three uniquely qualified and acclaimed educators have co-authored a unique publication “International Standards of Education: History lessons and modern times”. Source: WIKIDATA - Photo: 2022

A Unique Book on International Education and Origins of the UN and UNESCO

By Somar Wijayadasa*

NEW YORK (IDN) — The famous Russian publishing house “Etnosfera” has published an unparalleled publication,“ International Standards of Education: History lessons and modern times”.

The 200-page publication that has generated glowing reviews in diverse news media is co-authored by three uniquely qualified and acclaimed Moscow State Pedagogical University educators.

The publication describes the history and modern development of international education and provides an insightful analysis of the history of the formation of the global educational space and its regulatory support, including the issues of standardisation and development of international cooperation in the field of education. 

The authors introduce readers to the views of authoritative ideologists of the early eras, the pedagogical teachings of antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, and the history of pedagogical thought in Russia—from the origins to the formation of a global worldview of the philosophies of eminent Russian scientists Lomonosov, Vernadsky, Tsiolkovsky and others.

Due to space constraints, I cannot do justice to this excellent publication. However, a summary of it may give you a glimpse of what it contains.

In its first section: On the way to international education standards: From the pedagogy of early thinkers to modern approaches reviews the historical and cultural milestones of pedagogical teachings and development of education from the most ancient civilisations of the East to Ancient Greece and Rome, legislation and teachings of Ancient thinkers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and the works of Cato, Cicero, and Marcus Aurelius to modern-day scholars.

It provides an overview of the ‘Education in Russia’ from Peter the Great (1789-1725), who modernised Russia and introduced the western form of education emphasising the sciences, mathematics, and social science.

The publication highlights the contributions of M. V. Lomonosov (1711-1765), who opened the Moscow University, and the development of pedagogical thought by prominent Russian thinkers like Pirogov and Tolstoy to many other educationists of that bygone era.

As is well known throughout the world, Russia has a 98% literacy rate (a sharp U-turn from the 98% illiteracy rate before the Russian revolution in 1917) and has a long-standing tradition of high-quality education for all its citizens, but also for foreign students as well.

The Russian education system emerged after the Russian Revolution in 1917, and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922 became internationally renowned for its successes in eradicating illiteracy and cultivating a highly educated population.

Though well-known worldwide, the publication indisputably portrays Russia as one of the best mass education and high-quality education systems in the world.

Section II of the publication vividly describes the significant historical events from the Hellenistic era to Alexander the Great, the emergence of the Roman law and religious norms of the Catholic Canon Law, and the role of the Koran in the Islamic world.

It also details the origins and various stages and intricate procedures of the formation of international organisations—the League of Nations, the United Nations (UN), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the global goals of the UN and UNESCO in education management.

What is most fascinating are the historical facts on the formation of the UN and UNESCO during and after the second world war and the actions and decisions of the leaders of allied forces during those difficult times.

The authors deserve credit for extracting intriguing facts and episodes (perhaps from archives of the World War II era), including the Moscow conference (October 1943) of Foreign Ministers of the USSR, USA, Great Britain and China, etc., on the issue of universal security; meetings of the Allied States leaders in Tehran, and Washington on issues of international security and the post-war world order.

The publication highlights the origins and the main stages of joint work of the leaders of allied states in the creation of the UN during the Second World War – enthralling details perhaps not found in any other publication.

Specifically, the Crimean (Yalta) Conference, where the leaders of the USSR/Stalin, USA/Roosevelt and Great Britain/Churchill) practically formed the ideology and made crucial decisions to create the United Nations.

The authors have delved deep into the historical perspectives and especially the minutia that entailed in the formation of the United Nations —even agreeing on the phrases such as “to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war” in the UN Charter and to resolving the complexities of parity of veto power in the Security Council.

The publication analyses the origins and broader functioning of the UN and UNESCO since their inception through the turbulent times around the world and their immeasurable contribution to peace and prosperity worldwide.

The Third Section examines the history of the formation of the global educational space and its regulatory support and pays special attention to the creation and activities of international organisations origins of basic principles of the right to education, highlighting their role in the development of the global process of legal regulation of standardisation of education.

The authors highlight the salient features of UNESCO’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED UNESCO) and the Global Convention on recognition of qualifications related to higher education for improving mechanisms of recognising foreign qualifications worldwide.

It highlights the efforts of UNESCO to achieve equitable and quality education—a key UN goal for sustainable development for the period up to 2030, and also UNESCO’s Futures of Education initiative for the period up to 2050 and beyond to understand how education can shape the future of humanity and the planet by catalysing a global debate on how knowledge, teaching and learning need to be reimagined in a world of increasing complexity and uncertainty.

The final part of the book is devoted to the legislation of the Russian Federation on international cooperation in the field of education and presents a set of measures aimed at developing a system of multicultural and civic-patriotic education and the enlightenment of youth.

Most importantly, it contains an extensive list of—perhaps previously unpublished—Russian and international legal documents and literature on the issues under consideration.

According to the co-author Dr Yuri Goriyachev—a former UN diplomat—“It is this understanding of the very essence of international education, including respect for human rights to affordable and high-quality education, its access to the global treasury of education, from our point of view, that is the key to a correct understanding of the discourse on strategic guidelines in the battle for minds”.

The esteemed authors of this publication deserve credit for presenting a much-needed analysis of the UN and UNESCO—especially given the global calamities.

The authors of this monumental publication are:

Dr Yuri Goryachev, International lawyer, foreign affairs specialist and one-time UN Diplomat, Scientific Head of the UNESCO Chair in Moscow.

Dr Elena Omelchenko, Dean of the Faculty of Regional Studies and Ethnocultural Education, Deputy Director of the Institute of Social and Humanitarian Education.

Dr Vladimir Zakharov, Deputy Director-general of the Center for Promotion of Cross-Cultural Education Ethnosphera, leading specialist of the Center for Historical and Cultural Studies.

All are Professors at the Moscow Pedagogical State University and have authored hundreds of publications on multicultural education and the Integration of non-ethnic migrants and international organisations.

I can vouch that this academic and insightful publication would be an immensely valuable educational source for international pedagogues, scholars and professors of education, international law, and international relations in all educational institutions. [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 July 2022]

* Somar Wijayadasa, an international lawyer was a Faculty Member of the University of Sri Lanka (1967-1972), worked for IAEA and FAO (1973-1980), delegate of UNESCO to the UN General Assembly (1980-1995), and was the Representative of UNAIDS at the United Nations from 1995-2000.

Image: Moscow State Pedagogical University’s three uniquely qualified educators have co-authored a unique publication, “International Standards of Education: History lessons and modern times”. Source: WIKIDATA

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