The IBE is created as a private Swiss association

During its first years, the IBE organized courses, study visits, exhibitions, and conferences, and gathered and disseminated information on all matters related to education.


Signature of the New Statutes

Jean Piaget, the eminent Swiss psychologist, is appointed director, with Pedro Rossello, a Spanish educationist, as his deputy. Together, they led the IBE for almost forty years.


First session of the ICPE

The IBE starts convening sessions of the International Conference on Public Education (ICPE) through the intermediary of the Swiss Federal Council (an arrangement that continued until 1946), inviting ministries of education to present reports on recent educational developments in their countries.

1934 · 1939

Third to Eighth ICPEs

Authoritarian and democratic regimes discussing together.


Nineth ICPE

Last International Conference on Public Education (ICPE) organizedby IBE alone.


Tenth ICPE

First International Conference on Public Education (ICPE) organized by IBE and UNESCO together.


Sixteenth ICPE

After Stalin’s death, the Communist States were present again; Cold War entered IBE.


Participation of ancient colonized countries

More and more ancient colonized countries participated in IBE’s activities.

1963 · 1964

Exclusion of the colonial Portugal

Majority of African, Arab and Communist countries excluded the colonial Portugal from the International Conference on Public Education (ICPE).


Resignation of Jean Piaget

Letter of resignation of Jean Piaget as Director of the IBE.


Integration of the IBE to UNESCO

The IBE becomes an integral part of UNESCO, as an international center of comparative education, with a mandate of pursuing research particularly in the area of comparative education and maintaining educational documentation and information services.


Note on the IBE and the League of Nations

Piaget and the secretariat defended the neutral, Swiss-situated IBE against the French IICI’s tendency to intervene in international educational matters.

«After having remained aloof from educational questions for several years because it considered them to be the most sacred area of national sovereignty, the League of Nations has suddenly changed its tactics and [...] is trying, under the guise of "moral disarmament", to bind States by conventions on education. This project [...] will make the IICI [Institute of Intellectual Cooperation] in Paris play a leading role in this attempt to regulate education internationally. All those who wish to see educational questions treated from a strictly objective point of view cannot but have reservations about the influence of a given country on a delicate and important question». (Note on the IBE and the League of Nations, ~ 1930)



Courting all the governments of the world, be they fascist (Italy) or democratic (USA): Desire to balance by all means.


The ascension from the individual to the universal

The ideal of the ICPEs: based on the conception of moral and solidarity in child development.

Piaget, J. (1931a). L’esprit de solidarité chez l’enfant et la collaboration internationale. Recueil pédagogique, 2, p. 26


Piaget: Diplomat during the Cold War

Piaget regularly intervened in the bodies of the BIE so that all the countries of the world were invited to participate in the IICE, independently of their political regime: it is the concrete application of the principle of neutrality.

Mr. PIAGET wished to recall another problem […] namely that of the participation of the People's Republic of China. […] The BlE is interested in the development of education in all countries, regardless of their political system. // M. PIAGET points out that already before 1947, when the BlE was solely responsible for for the organization of the International Conferences on Public Education, it sent invitations to all States, whether or not they were members of the IBE. // Mr. ELVIN pointed out that China was on the list of States to be invited to the Conference; it remained to be specified which China was concerned. As far as Unesco […it] decided in favour of the Republic of China.

1963 · 1964

Piaget and the rise of newly independent countries, the ancient colonies

Piaget regularly condemned colonialism. But, faithful to the principle of neutrality and respect for the legal rules in force, he opposed the exclusion of Portugal from the IBE proposed by the African states and supported in particular by the communist countries. In 1963, the ICPE continued; in 1964, he left the ICPE after the vote of exclusion.

Piaget intervened to remind the delegates that he considered as not valid, in the name of the customs in use since the foundation of the IBE, the tabling of this draft resolution [of expulsion]. (Tribune de Genève, 4/5 July 1963)
«But dear Sirs, the fact that we are weak politically […] is the strength of our objective and active neutrality» (Piaget, statement for the XXIIth ICPE 1964, after exclusion of Portugal)


Diplomat of Educational Internationalism