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WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TECHNICAL REPORT SERIES. 1987; (746):1-89.A World Health Organization (WHO) Study Group on Community-based Education of Health Personnel met during November 1985 to clarify the meaning of the term community-based education, to determine its implications, to suggest how to put it into practice, and to recommend ways of fostering it. This report of the meeting defines terms and covers the following: the rationale of community-based education (a historical account, underlying principles, 6 reasons in support of community-based education, the organization of community-based educational programs, major problems and constraints, and quantitative and qualitative considerations); and the principles and issues (educational principles and issues, coordination between the health and educational systems, the intersectoral approach, community involvement, the health team, the competency-based learning approach, problem-based learning, performance assessment, and recapitulation of the action to be taken in implementing a community-based educational program). Recommendations to the WHO are included along with recommendations on how to start a community-based educational program and on how to foster an understanding of the concept of community-based education. An educational program, or curriculum, can be termed community-based if, for its entire duration, it consists of an appropriate number of learning activities in a balanced variety of educational settings, i.e., in both the community and a diversity of health care services at all levels. Participation in community-based educational activities gives the students a sense of social responsibility, enables the students to relate theoretical knowledge to practical training and makes them better prepared for life and their future integration into the working environment, helps to break down barriers between trained professionals and the lay public and to establish closer communication between educational institutions and the communities they serve, helps to keep the educational process current, helps students to acquire competency in areas relevant to community health needs, and is a powerful means of improving the quality of the community health services. A clear organizational design is needed to create a community-based educational program.