Textbooks pave the way to sustainable development

Few instruments shape children’s and young people’s minds more powerfully than the teaching and learning materials used in schools. Textbooks convey not only knowledge but also social values and political identities, and an understanding of history and the world. Teachers and students trust textbooks as authoritative and objective sources of information, assuming that they are accurate, balanced and based on the latest scientific findings and pedagogical practice. In some contexts, textbooks are the first and sometimes the only books that a young person may read (Lässig and Pohl, 2009). In most classrooms they determine what and how teachers teach.
As this policy paper shows, however, textbooks in many countries still fail to deal comprehensively, clearly and fairly with concepts that are crucial for social cohesion, political stability and the future of the planet, including gender equality, human rights, environmental protection, peace and non-violence, and cultural diversity. This policy paper invistes all governments to review and revise their textbooks to ensure that the content covers these ideas, which are integral to Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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