The 4 Pillars of Education by UNESCO

According to UNESCO, there are 4 basic pillars of education. Do you know what they are?
The 4 Pillars of Education by UNESCO

Last update: 28 January, 2021

In 1996, Jacques Delors and other authors wrote an official UNESCO report called Learning: the Treasure Within. This report includes the 4 pillars of education. Furthermore, it aims to talk about education and learning in the 21st century. In this article, we’ll explain what these 4 pillars are and their main goals.

In order to understand these pillars, you should bear in mind that the new education paradigm states that education’s main goal is to promote the integral development of students.

“Education aims to promote the integral development of students, rather than forming automatized, obedient beings that only produce, sell and consume.” 

– Claudio Naranjo –

The 4 pillars of education by UNESCO

As we’ve mentioned before, the current education system aims to promote the acquisition and integration of different skills for their:

  • Individual development: cognitive, physical, affective and learning (related to innovation and creativity), etc.
  • Social development: communication, civic, environmental respect, etc.

The 4 Pillars of Education by UNESCO

According to UNESCO (United Nations, educational, scientific and Cultural Organization), students need ongoing education based on 4 fundamental pillars. Below, you’ll find a description of the 4 fundamental pillars of education:

  • Learning to know: it’s about acquiring the ability to know, explore and understand the world. In fact, this relates to the learning to learn competence.
  • Learning to do: this refers to the way students face problems and situations. To sum up, they have to put the theory they’ve learned into practice.
  • Learning to live together: it’s about having enough social skills to live with any kind of people in a peaceful way. In order to do this, it’s important to understand and respect others by putting certain values into practice.
  • Learning to be: it consists of developing all their individual skills. As a result, they’ll become independent and responsible people. Therefore, this pillar includes all the pillars previously mentioned.

“Education is an indispensable asset in its attempt to attain the ideals of peace, freedom and social justice.”

– Jacques Delors –

The 4 Pillars of Education by UNESCO

Importance of teachers’ attitude towards these fundamental pillars of education

Following these ideas, it’s necessary that teachers show a positive attitude towards the 4 pillars of education. Therefore, they need to commit to replace their school habits and routines by other educational practices. In addition, these practices have to adapt to the current times and to the students’ needs and characteristics.

What’s more, teachers need to understand that lectures used to teach students theory are outdated. This is due to the fact that, nowadays, students are the main characters of the teaching-learning process. And, this process aims to promote students’ integral development.

In conclusion, besides knowing the topics and subjects they teach, educators have to acquire abilities to structure, organize, evaluate and monitor the students’ learning process. 

Finally, we’d like to share with you a quote by Paulo Freire, famous Brazilian educator:

“Whoever teaches learns in the act of teaching, and whoever learns teaches in the act of learning.”

– Paulo Freire –

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  • Aramendi Jauregui, P. (2005). Evaluar competencias en la educación obligatoria. San Sebastián: Universidad del País Vasco.
  • Delors, J. (1996). La educación encierra un tesoro. Madrid: Santillana.
  • Villa, A. y Poblete, M. (2008). Competence-based learning. A Proposal for the Assessment of Generic Competences. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto.