1964–72

man and boy in camp

1964 and 1965 were critical years in the history of UIE. The original UNESCO funding expired, removing the Institute’s financial basis. But negotiations between the Director-General of UNESCO and the German Government over the continued existence of the Institute led to a positive outcome: the Foreign Office undertook to pay 90 per cent of the Institute budget for the next ten years from 31 December 1965. One precondition for this new arrangement was that the constitution should be changed so that UIE finally became an international institution. The Governing Board was henceforth to consist of 11 members of different nationalities, one of whom must be German (it had previously consisted of seven non-German and six German members). The Director became a member of the UNESCO Secretariat.

This crisis in the life of the Institute caused it to redefine its field of work. With the advent of members from all parts of the world, the Governing Board, which had until then been heavily European in make-up, began to consider the developing countries. This reorientation was also enshrined in the Constitution. It was stressed that UIE needed to form international networks, a task which the Institute very successfully accomplished in the subsequent years and decades. Collaboration with educationists in the host country was again included in the constitution as a feature of continuity.

One of the reasons why the Federal Government was interested in the survival of UIE was probably the Institute’s role as an intermediary in the dialogue between East and West: at the 1964 meeting of the Governing Board, a representative of the Conference of Ministers of Education stated that ‘the Ministers of Education of the Länder wish that the only institute in Germany which can maintain East-West contacts should be maintained’. From the outset, the UNESCO Institute for Education had made efforts to develop contacts with Eastern European countries.

Berlin Wall plaque

A new UIE emphasis on educational research was reflected in the launch of SOLEP seminars (European Seminars on Learning and the Educational Process) in 1968. Associated seminars were held for directors of educational research institutes, representing a further element of continuity in the work of UIE. After two seminars, the 1976 All-European Conference for Directors of Educational Research Institutions, supported by the Council of Europe and the Volkswagen Foundation was a milestone of the Institute’s work. The conference enabled an exchange of views between 70 participants from 30 European countries. The press release stated: ‘For the first time, both Western and Eastern European research institutes will have the opportunity to improve and continue communication and international co-operation between the institutions involved.’ These Europe-wide conferences run with the Council of Europe were continued until 1988.

In 1970 another redefinition of the functions of UIE took place in the course of discussions over complementarity with the other two UNESCO educational institutes, the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) in Paris, founded in 1963, and the International Bureau of Education (IBE) in Geneva. It was also agreed that a representative of each of the other two institutes should attend every Governing Board meeting of any of the three.

Council of Europe building