• A new UNESCO Framework on Culture and Arts Education has been endorsed on 15 February
  • It includes a strong focus on access, inclusion, and equity, including in the digital environment, as a critical foundation to the realisation of the right to education and cultural rights
  • Following strong engagement and advocacy from IFLA, we celebrate the inclusion of libraries in the Framework, which calls for States to broaden the concept of learning environments, strengthen policy and systems, enhance collective engagement, and make sustained public investment for culture and arts education

Ministers of Culture and Educations from around the world have come together in Abu Dhabi at the World Conference on Culture and Arts Education in February 2024, which has resulted in their endorsing of UNESCO’s new Framework on Culture and Arts Education.

This document builds on the Declaration of the World Conference on Cultural Policies – MONDIACULT (2022) to more firmly link culture and education in support of shaping more just, inclusive, and peaceful societies.

Library Advocacy in Action

IFLA was a strong voice throughout the 18-month consultation and drafting process for the inclusion of non-formal education, and specifically libraries, in the resulting Framework.

The earlier documents on which the Framework was based did not include libraries or a strong lifelong learning perspective. Since early in the process, IFLA has positioned ourselves as voices for strengthening culture-education linkages.

IFLA’s ResiliArt x Mondiacult event (2022)
  • This event explored needs and policy gaps in enabling inclusive and meaningful access to culture.
  • Experts highlighted the critical need to strengthen culture-education linkages by reimagining where education happens and building partnerships
  • IFLA hosted a side event in Mexico City titled, “Accelerating Education-Culture Linkages through Collaboration: Exploring partnerships with libraries and other cultural institutions”.
Regional Engagement and Multistakeholder Dialogues (2023)
  • IFLA brought these points into the process of creating this framework, including by involving experts in regional consultations.
  • At UNESCO’s Multistakeholder Dialogues in May 2023, IFLA worked to secure a place for libraries in this framework [watch our input during the Multistakeholder Dialogues here].

We are happy to say that, despite the lack of libraries in earlier Framework drafts, the final version includes a strong recognition of non-formal education and names libraries among stakeholders and spaces where inclusive culture and arts education happens.

What is Important for Libraries?

Ensuring access to culture and the arts is inseparable from the existence of spaces dedicated to it that are open and allow for the participation of all, including…libraries.

This document is full of points that aligns closely with the values of the library field, so we encourage you to have a closer look. Here are some main points of interest:

  • The framework links to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the SDGs (in particular, target 4.7: education for sustainable development
  • Education is recognised as a lifelong and society-wide process
  • Member states are encouraged to broaden their concept of learning environments by establishing more sustained partnership with libraries
  • Access, inclusion, and equity, including in the digital environment, are recognised as providing a critical foundation
  • Emphasis is placed on the importance of the development of social and emotional skills and the capacity for critical engagement. Knowledge brokers and information professionals can help nurture these skills.
  • The importance of localisation and place-based education is highlighted
  • Implementation includes a call for increased investment to address shortages of non-formal educators, including training and continued professional development
  • Media and information literacy training, as well as access to digital technologies, are identified as being critical for implementation
  • Digital solutions for culture and arts education, including those using AI, should be enriched by local and cultural resources, which will require co-creation by memory institutions

How will this Framework be used?

This type of document provides guidance and policy recommendations to Member States.

It creates a shared vision and set of goals, while laying out implementation modalities that should be taken forward by Member States and UNESCO, in partnership with civil society.

The Framework can be implemented first and foremost through governance, legislation, and policies at the national level in support of culture and arts education in formal, nonformal, and informal settings.

What comes next?

Member States have endorsed this Framework, and have called on UNESCO to provide operational guidance. This provides the library field with an opportunity to consider what operational guidance from a library perspective would look like.

From the international level, UNESCO is establishing a regular reporting mechanism that will begin calling for reports in 2025. This will be an opportunity for the library sector to highlight their impact on implementing the Framework.

UNESCO will further facilitate knowledge-sharing opportunities centred on sharing good practice. IFLA will monitor these developments and identify spaces to include library perspectives from our network.

In the meantime, we encourage you to think about how this Framework relates to your work.

  • Where are you already working towards the Framework’s goals?
  • What could be improved at the National level to better support you?
  • How can you show your impact more broadly?

Libraries, library associations, and IFLA volunteers are encouraged reach out to your National UNESCO Commission to learn more about how they plan to implement the Framework at the National Level and to share your ideas.

Questions: claire.mcguire@ifla.org