Why the consultation of Member States and National Commissions for UNESCO of the Africa region in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire was so important?

Delegations of 34 countries (out of 47) attended the Director-General’s consultation of Member States and National Commissions for UNESCO of the Africa region from 6-8 June 2012 on the preparation of the Medium-Term Strategy for 20014-2021 (37 C/4) and the Programme as well as the Budget for 2014-2017 (37 C/5) that was organised by UNESCO in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Ms Kandia Camara, Mrs Irina BOKOVA and President of Côte d’Ivoire

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“YOUNG”, DYNAMIC AND RICH IN NATURAL AND HUMAN RESOURCES

The first speaker, Ms Kandia Camara, Minister of Education and Chairperson of the Côte d’Ivoire National Commission for UNESCO, began her address by highlighting the symbolic choice of Abidjan for the Director-General’s consultation of sub-Saharan African Member States, thus reflecting the fruit of the efforts of the Ivoirian authorities to restore peace and of the support of the international community.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, thanked the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for its warm welcome. She also thanked Africa in its entirety for the support given to UNESCO in the financial crisis that it currently faces and for Africa’s contribution to the Emergency Fund, stating that such a token of trust honoured the Organization and obliged it to redouble its efforts for Africa.
Stressing the importance of the National Commissions network with which she wished to strengthen cooperation, she informed participants of the record number of responses to the questionnaire sent to Member States on documents 37 C/4 and 37 C/5. She concluded by calling on multilateral organizations, including UNESCO, to support Africa – “young”, dynamic and rich in natural and human resources – stating that education, the sciences and culture were key to the continent’s future.

CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING PEACEFUL AND KNOWLEDGEABLE SOCIETIES THROUGH EDUCATION, ...

The Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, Mr Jeannot Kouadio-Ahoussou, representing the President of the Republic, welcomed similar approaches by other Africa States attending the meeting, which were required to solve the same problems in education, the sciences, culture and communication.
Agreement was reached on the following formulation of UNESCO’s mission statement for the next medium-term period: «To contribute to building peaceful and knowledgeable societies through education, sciences, culture and communication and information.»
Two overarching objectives were retained: 1) promotion and generation of, and access to, knowledge and; 2) building peaceful, inclusive and resilient societies.
With regard to the Major programme I, Education, the need for enhancing skills development to address youth unemployment was highlighted. The following areas were mentioned also as priorities for the next programme cycle: human rights, peace and values education; sector-wide policy formulation and planning through the development of Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), as well as of quality data collection and dissemination.
In the field of Natural Sciences the following priority areas were underlined: water issues, in particular with regard to the development of policies on water accessibility, management and protection of water resources; development and implementation of Science, Technology and Innovation policies; capacity-building in science, technology and engineering, including in environmental and occupational health sciences; sustainable use of natural resources; development of policies for the use of renewable and alternative sources of energy; management of natural disasters including disaster preparedness and mitigation; utilization of Indigenous Knowledge Systems; implementation of the Consolidated Plan of Action for Science and Technology Development in Africa.
With regard to the Social and Human Sciences, participants underlined the need for addressing youth unemployment and empowerment, through, inter alia, implementing UNESCO’s Strategy on African Youth and linking it to the African Union Action Plan for Youth.
In the field of Culture, the following priorities were highlighted: promotion of and awareness-raising on UNESCO’s Culture Conventions, with the involvement of civil society; support to African countries for the actualisation of their cultural policies; implementation of the ‘culture and development’ concept; capacity-building for culture practitioners; promotion of African languages; enhancement of education-culture linkages; development of cultural industries in Africa and; culture of peace.
With regard to Communication and Information, participants agreed that focus should be put on: development of media regulatory frameworks to promote freedom of expression and of association, while respecting ethical principles; development of media infrastructure, in particular of community media centres, to promote access to information and knowledge; training of journalists and media professionals; ICTs and its applications in UNESCO’s fields of competence.

MUSANGABATWARE Clément
Director of CI
Rwanda national Commission for UNESCO
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