Chapter V
United Nations International
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U.N.E.S.C.O. and Education
Feb. 17, 1960
... Man has been endowed with the innate desire for and the ability to acquire wisdom and
learning and it is the duty of leaders to inspire and guide our peoples in this quest ....
It is with the deepest pleasure that We welcome the delegates, observers and officials who have
come to Our capital city of Addis Ababa in order to participate in this conference of Ministers and
Directors of Education from countries in East and West Africa.  The welcome which We extend to
you is not only given on Our behalf but on behalf of all of Our people, and We trust that you will
fully enjoy, during your stay here, the hospitality of Our country.

The conference which We are now inaugurating, the first of its kind to be convened for this area of
the world, is of the greatest significance.  The discussions which will be held here are directly
concerned with the educational needs and aspirations of the 127 million people whose
represenatives have gathered together.  It is important, and it augurs well for the success of this
conference, that it is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization, pursuant to decisions taken at the tenth conference of UNESCO, held in Paris towards
the close of 1958.  All of us are indebted to UNESCO for the services which that organization has
performed on our behalf.

You have before you for consideration a report, carefully prepared by the UNESCO SECRETARIAT,
dealing with the educational needs of tropical African countries.  From this report, it is possible to
gauge something of the greatness of the task with which the educators of the African peoples
represented here are now confronted.  This is not, of course, a matter which concerns only
educators; the enormity of the task of improving the educational level of the African peoples is and
must be of particular concern to those who have been called to the highest positions of leadership.  
They bear the grave responsibility of ensuring that the youth of their countries combine the
highest moral values with the noble patriotic sentiments in serving their country.

The total population represented at this conference is estimated at some 127 million souls.  Much
has been done to provide schooling for the many million children of schoolage, not all of which is
fully indicated in the report.  But when every allowance has been made for the educational
opportunities which exist outside the regular governmental school system -- and We would refer
specifically to the traditional and widespread efforts of the Ethiopian Church in Our land -- the fact
remains that according to the figures secured by UNESCO there are as yet no places in primary
school for millions of boys and girls.  To provide for these children, more than 345,000 teachers
must be recruited and at least the same number of classrooms must be built.  And the financing for
these extensions of educational opportunity must come, in large measure, from budgets which are
already fully extended to meet their country's needs.
Human Potential
We have, of recent years, heard much of the economic riches of our continent and of the benefit to
ourselves and to the world which will result from their exploitation and development.  We have
here, however, another potential source of wealth which must not be neglected -- the benefit which
will accrue to us and to the world if our children are granted the tools of knowledge and are
enabled to acquire the skill which may be derived from education.  These tools and these skills will
help them as individuals to realize their full intellectual, moral and cultural stature and thus enable
them as members of a society to contribute worthily to the building of our human civilization.  Man
has been endowed with the innate desire for and the ability to acquire wisdom and learning and it
is the duty of leaders to inspire and guide our peoples in this quest.

A study of the information collected by UNESCO indicates that although the needs and the
achievements of the African peoples have varied according to the geographical, economic,
historical and cultural circumstances which are peculiar to each people and which have
conditioned the development of each country, yet there are many elements which we share in
common.  It is in our interest to study and properly understand the varying problems which exist
in the different regions of Africa and seek together to overcome them in a spirit of co-operation,
through mutual assistance as well as through the efforts and help of those who are genuinely
prepared to aid us in our endeavours.

As one example of the difficulties which have faced nations individually, We need only cite the
situation which confronted Us when, in 1941, We returned to Ethiopia to find an educational
system ravaged and destroyed by the Fascist invasion of Our country in 1935.  The educational
progress of Our people was severely and sadly retarded by the events of those years.  The youth of
Our country who had received higher education prior to 1935 were decimated during the years in
which the Fascist invader ravaged Our land, and there was little indeed in the way of trained
human resources or existing facilities at hand to aid Us in the enormous task which confronted Us.  
But, convinced as We were that in the education of our young rested the key to Ethiopia's future
development, We determined that this task would enjoy the highest priority in Our programme for
Ethiopia's progress.

We take humble pride in the accomplishments of the years since 1941, and Our heart is filled with
joy when We observe the fruits of Our efforts in the youth of Our country who are succeeding in
ever increasing numbers to positions of responsibility in the life of Our nation.  Hundreds of
schools have been built; hundreds of thousands of Our people have received the benefit of
education.  Although Our country was unable to make free use of the facilities for higher education
in the metropolitan countries of Europe which have influenced the development of schooling in
certain areas of Africa, We have nonetheless been able to carry out an extensive programme of
foreign training in many countries of the world, and We appreciate the scholarships which have
permitted your men and women to study abroad.  In addition, We have built up here a system of
colleges which, We are happy to say, We are already sharing with students from Our sister
countries.  We believe that the existence of these colleges, together with those parallel institutions
which are increasingly appearing in other parts of this great continent may ease the problem of
preparing a programme of education which is designed specifically to meet the needs of Our
African peoples.
Sharing
Our efforts have not been directed solely to the educational advancement of Ethiopians; We have,
as well, not been unmindful that all of us must share in the responsibility for the education of all of
our African brothers.  We had this firmly in mind when We awarded 200 scholarships, a number,
We would add, which was limited only by the budgetary resources at Our disposal.  We intend to
continue Our efforts to extend all possible assistance in this field.  Surely, if we all resolved jointly
to bend our unsparing efforts to the achievements of universal education on this great continent,
we would in a few short years see results going far beyond what each of us, acting alone, could
attain.

Much has been done, but much more remains to be accomplished.  Even today, We reserve to Our
Person the portfolio of Minister of Education, and We shall never cease to devote Our efforts and
energies to the tasks and problems involved in the education of Our people.  We are confident that
great things will be accomplished during this conference.  We know that you, too, share Our
preoccupation with the educational needs of peoples everywhere.  We know that you share with
Us the firm conviction that as man's soul and his ability to reason and to learn constitute the
distinctive marks of humanity, so the gifts of education and the development of man's intellectual
capacity can create differences among men.  We know that the learning of the ages and the
teachings of wise men who have lived throughout the history of the world must no longer be
denied to large numbers of the population of the earth.  We know that man's physical needs and
his intellectual and spiritual strivings can only be satisfied through the medium of education.  It is
not unimportant to observe the direct relationship that exists between the standard of living of
peoples in various parts of the world and the educational level which they have attained.
Strength in Diversity
All African people, not only those represented here, have had varying experiences and encountered
varying difficulties and trials in the search for education.  But the very fact that our experience has
not been uniform can now become a source of strength to us as we undertake the planning of a
common approach to the education of our children.  Each of us has something to contribute.  In the
field of teacher training, for example, it is possible that a common approach may be devised,
especially for the preparation of staff to serve in the higher levels of our schools and for the
imparting of those technical skills which are so essential for our developing economies.  In this
connection, We would refer to the departments of our Ethiopian colleges, to the University College
of Addis Ababa, with its faculties and sections concerned with Liberal Arts, Education, Law and
Science; to the College of Engineering; the College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts; the Public
Health College; the Institute of Building Technology; the Institute of Public Administration and the
Mapping and Geography Institute -- all these may well play their part both in the development of
African higher education and also in the implementation of plans for universal primary schooling
which may be drafted as a result of this present conference.

The agenda which has been prepared for your meetings covers a very wide area.  The facts which
have been gathered and the statistics which have been compiled indicate something of the
magnitude of the task with which we are faced, but from them we may also derive some
satisfaction and some encouragement in the knowledge of what has been achieved, often against
great odds, in the initial foundation of our educational systems.

By working together as neighbours, by making use of the resources which can be brought to bear
through programmes of national development, of mutual help and of international assistance, we
may face the future with confidence, secure in the knowledge that we can render a good account
for our days and for our labours.

It is not sufficient to pay only lip service to the cause of our co-operation and unity.  We must
devise means of effective co-operation which will enable us to mobilize our resources and
strengthen the basis for the limited industries which we possess and thereby ensure our progress
and, ultimately, attain well-being and self-sufficiency for all.  Without education, we cannot hope to
possess the technicians and experts essential to the development of our economies or the doctors
and nurses who will safeguard the health of our people, nor can we achieve the other conditions
upon which our security and prosperity depend.

We shall follow with the greatest interest the deliberations of this conference, and We pray that we
may enjoy the guidance and the blessing of the Almighty as we apply Ourselves to the tasks that
now confront Us.
Haile Selassie the First - Februay 17, 1960