By Carlos Vasquez
NEW YORK, USA, 17 December 2009 – Over the next 40 years, communities across the globe will face challenges that are monumental and interconnected, affecting people in drastic ways never witnessed before. The world population has more than doubled during the past 100 years, and it will reach 9 billion by 2050. Estimates predict that for the first time in human history there will be more urban than rural dwellers, putting increased pressure on existing infrastructure. During the past 50 years, we have consumed more than 50 per cent of the world’s natural resources. What we do today and how we design our next plan of action will determine the impact our organization will have on future generations.
Education has proved to be the most effective vehicle in developing programmes to decrease mortality rates, increase health awareness and empower people to take charge of their destiny. Education has also moved to the forefront in emergency situations to bring a sense of stability to children’s lives and society at large. Child-friendly schools and the field of architecture are leading the way in innovative implementation of educational curricula and in developing structurally sound schools conducive to learning.
To address these shifting challenges, schools must continue to push beyond the academic realm and create a greater socially positive impact. The school of the future will be educational relative to the child’s experience and also to the state of world events. Schools will need to be epicentres for community improvement by providing multi-purpose spaces, thus maximizing their effective net investment value.
This is the time to imagine, design and build the school of a post-carbon society, with sustainable energy systems and educational tools that will enable people to end dependency. These will be schools that reach beyond national borders and encourage education – the most significant cross-border activity.
UNICEF, Education Section
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