UNESCO Member States adopt global framework to strengthen Culture and Arts education

Paris/Abu Dhabi, 17 February 2024 – UNESCO Member States unanimously adopted a new global Framework for Culture and Arts Education. Among the commitments made: to give greater priority to culture and arts education in teacher training, to put more emphasis on local and indigenous cultures and heritage in the classroom, and to better recognize artistic and cultural skills within the professional world. To translate this Framework into action, UNESCO and the United Arab Emirates also announced a new major initiative.

“As a UNESCO study highlighted last year, arts education helps students develop emotional intelligence, creativity and critical thinking. It improves their well-being and academic results. Artistic education also promotes openness to others and respect for diversity within society at large. I thank our Member States for this new global agreement which will make culture and arts a greater priority in education, while taking into account the use of digital technology,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO.

The World Conference on Culture and Arts Education, organized by UNESCO and United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi (13-15 February), brought together nearly 1,000 culture and education stakeholders – including 90 ministers, 125 representatives of UNESCO Member States, policy-makers, experts and NGOs, as well as UN agencies, academia and the private sector.

The new UNESCO Framework stresses the need for lifelong learning in culture and art within all types of educational settings, and for placing culture and the arts at the heart of education policies, strategies, curricula, and programmes. The Framework broadens the understanding of “culture” to encompass built, natural and living heritage, cultural expressions, as well as the cultural and creative industries. It also focuses on the capacities of digital technologies in culture and arts education to help promote intercultural dialogue and linguistic diversity.

The text adopted also recognizes that learning in, through and with cultural diversity is vital for overcoming divisions and fostering mutual understanding. It underlines the need for greater emphasis on local – and especially indigenous – cultures and heritage. It also calls for strengthening relationships between educational and cultural institutions. This means creating more partnerships between schools and cultural institutions and propertie, including UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, as well as the cultures, traditions, and festivals inscribed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible heritage of humanity.

Building on the legacy of the UNESCO Lisbon Road Map (2006), the Seoul Agenda (2010) and the MONDIACULT Mexico Declaration (2022), this Framework is the outcome of two years of multistakeholder consultations, dialogue and negotiations with Member States.

A new UNESCO-UAE partnership to implement the Framework

The adoption of this Framework is not an end in itself. Its recommendations must now be translated into tangible public policy. UNESCO will support this process, by enabling Member States to share experiences, launch innovative reforms and share best practices. UNESCO and the United Arab Emirates announced a first major initiative including grants and international mobility program for teachers, as well as capacity building for African Member States through experts’ visits, knowledge sharing and vocational training.

“I would like to commend the important announcement made by Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates for the coming years. It will give us the strength needed to translate this Framework into action, supporting the countries that need it most, and especially supporting Africa as a global priority of UNESCO”, added Audrey Azoulay.

This new initiative will rely on three main pillars. It will provide grants to those that implement exceptional practices for arts education in each region. It will engage teachers – in particular those in the more than 12,000 UNESCO Associated Schools. Educators who design and deliver effective pedagogies for arts education will be allocated international mobility grants. In addition, the programme will support African States through experts’ visits, knowledge sharing and Technical and Vocation Education and Training (TVET).

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