Unesco round table
In the UNESCO high-level round table 'Shaping the Future through Knowledge' on Thursday 18 November 2005 director-general Koïchiro Matsuura presented the four main pillars of knowledge societies: respect for human rights, especially for freedom of speech, universal access to information, respect for cultural and linguistic diversity and quality education for all. Those pillars have been described in detail in the recently launched UNESCO report 'Towards knowledge societies'. The report was prepared in three earlier conferences organised by Unesco in 2005, described in EDRI-gram 3.3 and 3.10.
The panel members were asked to reflect on the 4 mission goals. Improving universal access to education turned out to be the most prominent concern of the panel. Also the attempts to safeguard indigenous knowledge and the preservation of small languages were highlighted as important goals. This could only be achieved in a situation of solidarity.
MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte elevated the discussion with a provocative statement that the world is heading towards a one language society. In his opinion language is about communication and not about preservation. This was not his personal wishful thinking, he said, but his expectation of unavoidable logic. This opinion met with severe criticism and concern. Major event of the round table however was Negropontes presentation of his project to create a one hundred dollar laptop for every child in developing countries. This technological innovation should bring down financial barriers and was applauded loudly.
Unesco report 'Towards knowledge societies' (04.11.2005)
Report about UNESCO conference St. Petersburg (24.05.2005)
Two Unesco conferences on internet and human rights (09.02.2005)
MIT FAQ about the 100 dollar computer (October 2005)
(Contribution by Jos de Haan, member of the Dutch Unesco delegation)