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As early as 1942, in wartime, the governments of the European countries, which were confronting Nazi Germany and its allies, met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME). The Second World War was far from over, yet those countries were looking for ways and means to reconstruct their systems of education once peace was restored. Very quickly, the project gained momentum and soon took on a universal note. New governments, including that of the United States, decided to join in.
By midsummer 1943, the work of the Conference grew to such an extent that re-organization was necessary. From the discussion about the re-organization of the Conference, it came out that one of the objects of the reconstituted CAME would be to consider plans for the formation of a permanent organization for promoting cooperation in educational matters in the post-war period. This organization should first be confined to the United Nations, and should then - after the war - grow into an international organization.
The decision of CAME to promote the foundation of a United Nations Organization for Educational and Cultural Reconstruction found a profound echo in the public. The League of Nations Union expressed the hope that the new organization would develop into a General International Organization for education which would provide the moral and intellectual basis of the peace.
The decision was taken to convene an extraordinary Conference, which would be attended by the participating countries on an equal footing with one vote for each, for the purpose of agreeing on the creation of an international organization that would take charge of educational and cultural concerns during the reconstruction period: the United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF).
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The original idea of the Conference was to assist and strengthen educational institutions set up for the allied countries in the United Kingdom, and to identify the needs which these countries would have after the war when the time came for rebuilding their education systems.
But at a very early stage the Committee combined its practical concern for the task of assisting in educational reconstruction with that of establishing an international body which would look after educational and cultural matters.
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<a href="http://www.unesco.org/education/nfsunesco/pdf/OCHS_1_E.PDF">Looking Bock: Extract from UNESCO on the Eve of its Fortieth Anniversary</a>, 1985, by Rene Ochs and José Blat Gimeno under the direction of Mr M'Bow, Director-General of UNESCO;
<a href="http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/cgi-bin/ulis.pl?catno=85521&set=4A439E20_2_281&gp=1&lin=1&ll=1">The Beginnings of Unesco: 1942-1948</a> by Opocensky, Jan. France, 1950.