Mariel de Jesus
In 1953, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) launched the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) as a global network of more than 9,000 educational institutions in 180 countries. The ASPnet promotes UNESCO’s objective of Education for All with a specific focus on ensuring that both young people and adults have access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs, and improving all aspects related to the quality of education to see measured achievements and positive learning outcomes.
Member institutions around the world range from pre-schools, primary, secondary and vocational schools to teacher training institutions that support UNESCO’s priorities.
ASPnet recognizes that societies are becoming increasingly multicultural and multiethnic, and in response, seeks to establish meaningful intercultural dialogue between educators and students. Through this network, schools become the arena for fostering greater awareness of culture and heritage, and provide opportunities for collaboration and partnership. ASPnet makes possible links and common projects between schools in different countries and continents, thus contributing to UNESCO’s function as a catalyst for greater international cooperation.
Part of UNESCO’s education work highlights the link between language and education, specifically in its promotion of mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education (MLE). MLE allows communities to build on their language, culture, and experience, resulting in an approach that sustains local cultures and environments and improves educational quality.
UNESCO recognizes that mother tongue-based MLE is emerging as a global movement seeking to provide quality education for all. With mother tongue education seen as a critical input for development and revitalization of languages, the number of countries joining the MLE movement is rapidly increasing. This rising interest in MLE is supported by developments in theory and the actual practice of MLE in many schools globally, a large body of committed MLE practitioners and professionals around the world, and the active support of international organizations such as UNESCO and the World Bank.
The global partnerships that ASPNet schools engender and the continuous active support for MLE initiatives are critical in pursuing UNESCO’s ideals and pillars of learning for the 21st century, with schools, students, and educators learning to know, learning to do, learning to be, and learning to live together.
Ms Mariel de Jesus works with the Environmental Science for Social Change, a Jesuit research institution in the Philippines and is currently assisting the work in JCAP-Ecology.