The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is an international agency aimed at improving conditions for people around the world as well as preserving their heritage for generations to come. With roots dating back to the 1940s, it is more familiarly known as UNESCO. The agency's goals include promoting peace and erasing poverty while bringing the various cultures together.
A key goal in the education area is for all the children of the world, particularly those in disadvantaged countries, to have a free, high-quality primary education by 2015. This goal was outlined in the Dakar Framework for Action adopted by the World Education Forum, which met in Dakar, Senegal, in April 2000. Part of the educational goal is to improve literacy among adults and to provide education for girls in underdeveloped countries that is on a par with that received by boys.
A goal of the scientific section is sustainable development while protecting our environmental resources, such as air and water quality, and working toward peace and human rights around the world. The program focuses on developing countries, particularly Africa, with an aim of promoting dialogue between scientists and policymakers. UNESCO scientists study climate change and how to prevent natural disasters around the world.
A key component in the cultural sector is the World Heritage Site program. UNESCO believes that some sites belong to all the people of the world, regardless of where they are located. The goal is to preserve these sites, which may be of historic or scenic value, for future generations to enjoy. In 2011, there were 911 sites on the World Heritage site, including the Grand Canyon, Independence Hall and the Statue of Liberty in the United States. The agency also promotes cultural diversity and works to save the intangible aspects of a culture, such as folk songs and customs.
History of UNESCO
UNESCO was established in late 1945 following the end of World War II, when 44 countries met in London to discuss ways to restore the countries devastated by the war. The outcome of this conference was UNESCO, which the countries felt should work toward "the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind" and, in doing so, "prevent the outbreak of another world war," according to a history of the agency. UNESCO headquarters are located in Paris, though it has offices throughout the world. Membership is made up of 193 countries that support UNESCO goals.