ASPnet (Associated Schools Project Network)

History of the ASPnet (Associated Schools Project Network)

     The UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASP net) has become one of the largest global networks of schools.  The ASP net aims to contribute to improving the quality of education in practice in pursuit of peace and sustainable development and is often promoted by UNESCO as a powerful tool to achieve its goals and to increase the Organization’s visibility on the ground equally in all Member States. . 

    In 1953, UNESCO launched a project called Scheme of Co-ordinated Experimental Activities in Education for Living in a World Community with the participation of 33 secondary schools in 16 Member States. The purpose of the project was to “encourage the development of education in the aims and activities of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies, and in the principles.

     In 1957, the project was renamed the Associated Schools Project in Education for International Understanding and Co-operation, and in 1963, the number of participating schools grew to reach 191 in 42 Member States. In 1971, it was re-baptized the Associated Schools Project in Education for International Cooperation and Peace, and cooperation among the participating schools intensified. In UNESCO’s Programme and Budget for 1998-1999, the schools involved in the project – 4,224 in 137 countries – were referred to for the first time as the Associated Schools Project Network, with the acronym ASPnet.

   Currently, ASPnet represents a global network with more than 11,000 educational institutions  in 182 countries .the ASP net  member institutions include pre-schools primary and secondary schools and vocational school as well as teacher training institutions  both  in rural and urban  settings and comprise both public and private institution .The ASP net schools consider themselves to be pulse takers, being sensitive to what is happing around the world and as pace-setter , introducing new topics in the classroom  in support of current global issues such as international understanding , peace, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and quality education. 

    The programme is broadly based on main working mechanisms - creating, teaching and learning, and interacting - that determine how ASPnet shall contribute to improving the quality of education. Through functioning as a laboratory of ideas, ASPnet is developing, testing and disseminating innovative educational material and as well as promoting new teaching and learning approaches related to UNESCO core values and priorities. Through capacity building and applying innovative teaching and participative learning approaches on specific ASPnet thematic areas, ASPnet individual and institutional stakeholders internalize UNESCO values and further act as role models in their community and beyond. Lastly, through interacting, ASPnet provides opportunities for its various stakeholders to connect, exchange experiences, knowledge and good practices among schools, among individuals, within their communities, with policy makers and society as a whole. Effective coordination and targeted communication are preconditions for enabling these working mechanisms to function.

         ASPnet priorities: to promote education for All, in particular goals 3 (life skills) and 6 (quality education) of the Dakar Framework for Action, with emphasis on UNESCO ideals and the four pillars of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together. Systematically identify and diffuse examples of quality education in practice with emphasis on:

  • World concerns and the role of the united nations system
  • Education for sustainable development
  • Peace and human rights
  • Intercultural learning

       Through twinning and regional and international encounters, ASPnet teachers and students have many opportunities to work together beyond their classrooms to develop innovative educational approaches, pedagogical methods and materials from local to global levels in favor of a quality education for all.

  UNESCO ASPnet schools conduct regional and international activities and flagship projects on such issues as world heritage preservation, sustainable development, the transatlantic slave trade and intercultural dialogue. A number of pilot projects (the Baltic Sea project, the Great Volga River Route, the Caribbean Sea Project) involve specific regions of the world and contribute to the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).

        The ASPnet has demonstrated its effectiveness for improving the quality of education in practice by putting innovative teaching and learning approaches into practice at the grass roots level. When intra- or cross-sectoral cooperation successfully occurred, such as in the case of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and in the framework of flagships such as World Heritage Education, Sand watch, and Transatlantic Slave Trade, the ASPnet effectively fulfilled its potential as a channel for disseminating UNESCO’s educational resources and for applying innovative teaching and learning practices, in addition to being a vehicle for international exchange and collaboration.

        The Celebration of International Days, participation in flagship Initiatives and on-line global platforms have also demonstrated their value as drivers for learning and exchange among schools, teachers and students. ASPnet schools also serve as international laboratories for experimenting and validating education material developed by UNESCO or partner organizations on such themes as Education for Human Rights, HIV and AIDS prevention, desertification and world hunger.

          The core relevance of ASPnet lies in its contribution to UNESCO’s Education Sector Strategic Objectives, identified in the C/4, which were translated into four Main Lines of Actions (MLAs) in UNESCO’s biennial programmes (C/5) for Education for 2010/11 and 2012/13 and three Main Lines of Actions (MLAs) in 2014-17. The focus of the 2014-21 ASP net Strategy is on introducing Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education into educational contents and approaches at school level and on reinforcing the sharing and networking among schools.

         ASPnet is recognized by Member States as highly relevant and an effective implementation mechanism for increasing the quality of education in practice in the framework of the SDG4-Education 2030 agenda, in particular for reaching target 4.7 of the Education 2030 agenda.

        The recent introduction of innovative ICT tools and social media, both at the management and implementation level, has been empowering the interactive working mechanism of the ASPnet and consolidating its global identity. In particular, the Unit for ASPnet focused closely on the development and launch of the Online Tool for ASPnet (OTA) 2 with the aim of (re)connecting all ASPnet members to each other and stimulating exchange across all levels.


ASP net aims to “construct the defenses of peace in the minds” of its students, by placing UNESCO’s values and objectives prominently in the organization, lessons, projects and policies of the participating schools. It emphasizes the four pillars of education as defined in the Report to UNESCO of the International Commission of Education for the Twenty-first Century, Learning: The Treasure Within: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and, above all, learning to live together.

The ASP net Schools are encouraged to conduct pilot project on four main themes of study covering a wide range of interrelated sub-topic: i) World concerned the Role of UN systems; ii) Human Rights, Democracy and tolerance; iii) International learning ;vi) Environmental concern.

 The Objectives of ASPnet:

  • ASPnet promotes the values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of UNESCO and the Charter of the United Nations, including fundamental rights and human dignity, gender equality, social progress, freedom, justice and democracy, respect for diversity and international solidarity.


  • It serves UNESCO’s mandate and key functions, namely to act as a laboratory of ideas, to strengthen international and regional cooperation, to develop institutional and human capacities and to contribute to developing policies and setting standards. ASPnet contributes to the laboratory function by pioneering innovative and creative pedagogies to translate global concepts into practices at the school level and to advance the transformation of education systems and policies. As a global network, it fosters cooperation, knowledge sharing and partnerships among like- minded schools around the world.


  • ASPnet intends to provide opportunities for its members to develop a sense of belonging to the global community. It also contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015. ASPnet particularly focuses on target 4.7 of SDG4 - Education 2030, on global citizenship education (GCED) and education for sustainable development (ESD).


ASPnet Activities


  ASPnet activities and projects can be developed by the International Coordinator, National Coordinators, UNESCO field offices and institutes, or member schools themselves. Members can choose the ASPnet activities and projects that they want to implement, but they must also contribute every year to at least one activity initiated by the International Coordinator, or to a related national activity proposed by their National Coordinator .For some specific national or international projects, there could be a selection process. Most of the campaign activities are open to all members.

Thematic focus:  In line with its mission and objectives, ASPnet contributes to the achievement of global and national goals which can vary over time. In the context of the SDG agenda, and in particular SDG 4 - Education 2030, the thematic action areas of ASPnet include:


  • global citizenship and a culture of peace and non-violence,
  • sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles; and
  •  Intercultural learning and the appreciation of cultural diversity and heritage.


 In view of the decisions made by the Member States of UNESCO, the International Coordinator develops global or regional ASPnet projects on specific themes, in collaboration with the relevant units of the Secretariat.


ASPnet Guidance and support


 Members will mainly receive guidance and technical support from their National Coordinator, as well as access to best practices, so they can plan and implement their activities. UNESCO, and more precisely the International Coordinator, field offices and institutes, will provide guidance and support for international and regional projects to and through National Coordinators, and may mobilize support from other partners for certain projects.




                 ASPnet membership does not entail financial benefits for the members. ASPnet activities/ projects initiated by members are to be self-funded. However, participation in meetings called by UNESCO or National Coordinators can be fully or partly funded, if resources are available. Participation in certain projects managed or promoted by UNESCO can also be funded or co funded. Furthermore, National Coordinators can apply for the funding or co-funding of ASPnet activities through UNESCO’s Participation Programme, which is designed to support initiatives proposed by Member States.


ASPnet National Coordinator

                 At the country level, the Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO is in charge of appointing the ASPnet National Coordinator (NC) whose function and responsibilities are suggested in the Guide for ASPnet National Coordinators (2006). Accordingly, overall tasks can be categorized into four main headings:


  • network management at the country level (e.g. keeping an up-to-date database of active schools and activities, helping school to plan, implement and evaluate),
  •  ASPnet Development and Strategy (e.g. defining a National Strategy and Plan of Action, developing partnerships, arranging contacts with social media, disseminating good practices),
  • International cooperation (e.g. facilitating schools exchange and twinning, maintaining regular contact with UNESCO field offices, arranging participation of schools to international conferences and events) and
  • Communication within ASPnet (e.g. informing school on ASPnet priorities, providing content to News Info, informing the International Coordinator and National Commission on ASPnet activities taking place in the country). Further suggestions point out to holding an ASPnet annual meeting; organize teachers’ trainings as well as encounters for young people, finding modalities for granting recognition and rewarding achievements.




In Pakistan UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project was started at the Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) in 1970. PNCU has Reactivated and started project around the 79 schools of twin-cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi in 1994. Currently 261 ASP net Schools throughout the country. These ASP net Schools undertake relevant activities on different occasions for gaining knowledge and understanding about life, cultures and problems of other countries of the world.



The details of ASP-net schools are given below:-





No. of Institution











Khyber Pakhtunkhwa- KPK






Azad Jammu & Kashmir- AJK



ICT Islamabad