A positive start for the first Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) clinic in Ghana marks the beginning of a new chapter for girls’ participation in STEM education.
11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – and a reminder that today, many women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science education and careers.
Ghana is no exception. Girls’ participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in secondary schools is still lower than that of boys. There are many factors that influence girls’ participation in science, including a false belief among girls that science-related subjects are more suited for boys.
To increase girls’ participation in STEM-related courses in secondary schools and higher levels of education, the UNESCO Accra Office and partners are organising STEM clinics in selected districts in Ghana. These run on a quarterly basis to sensitise girls to various STEM-related careers that girls can pursue (e.g. teaching, medicine, laboratory work, or telecommunications engineering).
STEM clinics have a strong potential for increasing girls’ interest in science. Girls have a unique opportunity to interact with young female scientists and learn from the wide range of opportunities offered by the study of STEM subjects. Interactions with role models boost girls’ confidence about participating in STEM-related courses and helps to challenge the negative perceptions they may have about pursuing a career in STEM.
In December 2016, UNESCO Accra in collaboration with the Girls’ Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service organised their first STEM clinic in the Jasikan District of the Volta Region, which is among the lowest performing districts for girls’ participation in STEM. “Currently, there are only 29 girls reading pure science (physics, chemistry, biology) out of 855 girls in the three Senior High Schools in the Jasikan District. This is not good enough. Through the STEM clinics, we will improve these statistics in the coming years”, said Ruth Matogah, Girls’ Education Officer in Jasikan District.
Over 200 primary and secondary school girls participated in the one-day event in Jasikan District. At the start of the STEM clinic, very few participants raised their hands when asked if they would like to choose science at Senior High School; however, about 80% of participants raised their hands when asked the same question at the end of the day. It is still early to measure the impact of this intervention, yet it is encouraging to see the girls’ inspiring smiles as they left the venue of the STEM clinic.
This activity is part of a broader project in Ghana under the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education to improve the quality and relevance of girls’ learning. The UNESCO Accra Office will support the organisation of additional STEM clinics in the same district as well as in four other districts throughout 2017. The UNESCO-HNA Project Steering Committee in Ghana will plan follow up visits to evaluate preliminary results of the STEM clinics.
UNESCO and UNFPA supported a 10-day workshop early September, training curriculum developers, educators and teachers from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology on lifeskills and peacebuilding.
Lifeskills and peacebuilding education aims to provide knowledge and positive behaviours that enable individuals to make safe and effective decisions in the every-day demands and challenges in life. It is backed by a number of internationally approved frameworks including the recently launched South Sudan Curriculum framework.
“Developing materials for support is not an easy task and demands hard work,” said the Deputy Director in the education ministry, Mr. Scopas Lubang. “I would like to appreciate the support from the partners and Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports who spared their time and resources in developing the materials.”
The event brought together 26 selected curriculum developers, teacher educators, teachers from the Ministry of Education Science and Technology. Critical stakeholders who supported the process included UNICEF, Sports for Hope and Basic Education for Development Network (BEDN), Humanitarian Aid for Change and Transformation (HACT) among others.
The materials will guide educators and book writers from all fields to deliver education on topics such as personal development, social and citizenship, peace building education, healthy living, environment and entrepreneurship.
Six teams ensured content were finalised for pre-primary, upper and lower levels for both primary and secondary levels as well as for out of school youth. Cross cutting issues such as human rights, conflict sensitivity, gender and culture, HIV and AIDS, comprehensive sexuality education, and issues of disability were integrated into the materials.
This being the second phase of the exercise, the experts intended to finalise the activity which was started in May through UNICEF’s support.
Material development usually goes through several phases including creating content, teaching and then evaluating.
“The work is not complete,” commented, Castarina Lado, UNESCO programme officer during the closure of the workshop. “Both national and international experts will be consulted to ensure that the content is age appropriate, culturally sound in order develop the expected learning competencies and contribute to positive behavioural change among learners.”
In line with the context of South Sudan, the developed materials and curriculum intend to address the challenges faced by children and young people. Unlike previous curricula, teachers will employ child centred approaches to facilitate the development of psychosocial skills greatly needed to meet the demands and challenges of everyday life.
For more information or to coordinate an interview, please contact:
Castarina Lado, National Programme Officer
Office: +211 920002697
More than 60 Member States, across all regional groups, have sponsored a draft resolution on Safety of Journalists and the issue of impunity, which was adopted on Friday 28 April without a vote.
With two changes to wording proposed by Sweden on the suggestion of Russia, the resolution as finally adopted appealed to all stakeholders to redouble their efforts for successful implementation of the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
The resolution also invites Member States to ”provide input to, and engage in, the Multistakeholder Consultation on Strengthening the United Nations Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which will be organized by UNESCO and the United Nations Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva on 29 June 2017.”
More information on the June event, including templates for contributing information, are on the UNESCO website.
In their resolution, the Executive Board further noted ”with appreciation” the steady increase in voluntary responses by Member States concerning the judicial investigations of killings of journalists.
They strongly urged Member States to ”continue to actively provide this information to UNESCO as part of the Director-General’s Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, and to develop effective monitoring mechanisms for this purpose”.
The resolution also encourages ”Member States with the support of UNESCO to continue building capacity and setting up national safety mechanisms in order to prevent, protect against, and prosecute attacks on journalists and to combat impunity.”
Introducing the draft text, Swedish Ambassador Annika Markovic commended an increase in commitment by Member States in the United Nations to the safety of journalists. “A concrete example is the establishment of informal Group of Friends of Safety of Journalists with Member States in New York, Geneva and also here in Paris,” she said.
The Ambassador also stated that UNESCO has an important role to play in advancing Sustainable Development Goal 16.10 on public access to information and fundamental freedoms and in supporting Member States in strengthening national capacity in order to fight impunity.
Foreshadowing a specific emphasis in the resolution, Ambassador Markovic further noted that women journalists face specific risks, including threats, violence and sexual harassment.
The final list of Executive Board members sponsoring the resolution included: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Lebanon, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Uganda, Ukraine, USA.
Non-members of the Executive Board who co-sponsored the draft decision included: Canada, Finland, the Gambia, Iraq, Bulgaria, Liberia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Palestine, Slovakia, Latvia, Luxemburg, Palau, Austria, Namibia, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, Andorra, Cyprus, Croatia, Belgium, Portugal, Australia, Peru, Honduras, Tunisia, Kuwait and Guatemala.
Combining humor, satire and tragedy, Cartoons for Freedom of Expression feature fifteen cartoons designed by committed press cartoonists from around the world. The artworks in this series express the cartoonists’ different views on the state of press freedom and the many challenges that media and journalists face for informing citizens and carrying out critical reporting on issues of public interest.
“Sometimes playfully, sometimes bluntly, these cartoonists remind us of the importance of press freedom in a thought-provoking manner. Their critical artworks echo the right of society as a whole to express itself freely. We are pleased to join efforts with Cartooning for Peace for World Press Freedom Day,” said Frank La Rue, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information of UNESCO.
Under the theme Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media's role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies, World Press Freedom Day 2017 will bring together over 1100 participants to discuss current challenges from across the spectrum of media. With a special focus on retaining a critical approach to the information we consume, it will address the problems of “fake news” and hate speech online, as well as the safety of journalists and impact of new technologies on investigative journalism.
Special panels will also highlight the cutting-edge issue of artistic freedom as a pillar of freedom of expression, addressing questions of repression of artists, freedom of movement and international mobility for artists, and the right to participate in cultural life, as stipulated in the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Cartoonists will also report on the event, in pictorial form, inspired on the topics and debates of World Press Freedom Day’s International Conference. They include Cathy Wilcox, cartoonist for Fairfax Media and member of Cartooning for Peace, who recognizes that “freedom must be fought and advocated for, in the face of many challenges and obstructive forces – social, political, commercial and cultural”.
“As an Australian cartoonist working for a major metropolitan newspaper, I enjoy a great deal of artistic and editorial freedom. Striving for independence of thought – free of ideology, prejudice and vested interest - is a constant aim for me, as is making the best use of the power, privilege and responsibility of its free expression,” Wilcox said.
Cartooning for Peace, is an international organization founded by Kofi Annan, 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former United Nations Secretary-General, and editorial cartoonist Plantu.
“As an observer of his time, the cartoonist draws with humor and depth the political, social and geopolitical realities. Very often, it points where it hurts - where freedom of the press is in danger, where human rights are flouted, where censorship is imposed over thoughts,” Plantu said.
The special launch of Cartoons for Freedom of Expression is the first joint raising awareness campaign to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, although UNESCO and Cartooning for Peace have collaborated before in several projects to highlight the vital role of freedom of expression.
"With a view to strengthening its advocacy activities and supporting press designers at risk, Cartooning for Peace welcomes this partnership with UNESCO for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom to draw,” said Mark Gore, Director of Cartooning for Peace.
Through keynote conferences and panel discussions, the Forum will mainly focus on the following topics:
Breakout sessions will also delve more specifically into the following sub-themes:
More information on the programme and logistics are available under the url unescongoforum2017.com, where participants can also register. Extensive information on the Forums of NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO and the work coordinated by the NGO-UNESCO Liaison committee are available on the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee’s website (www.ong-unesco.org).
UNESCO-NGO LIAISON COMMITTEE
Maison des ONG
1, rue Miollis 75732 Paris Cedex 15 - France
Tel.: +33 1 45 68 36 68 Fax: +33 1 45 66 03 37
Facebook: Ngo-Unesco Liaison Committee
DESK FOR INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
Sector for External Relations and Public Information
7, place de Fontenoy 75352 Paris 07 - France
Tel.: +33 1 45 68 14 98
The 14th edition of UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture was awarded, by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, to two calligraffiti artists, Lebanese-Egyptian Bahia Shehab and Franco-Tunisian eL Seed, during an official ceremony that took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 18 April 2017.
In her speech, Irina Bokova emphasized the importance of renewing Arab culture as a force of dialogue and mutual understanding. The power of culture lies in its capacity to unite, dignify and elevate as it deepens the understanding of a shared history and present, and enriches society on the basis of mutual respect and cultivation of peace, all of which resonate in the spirit of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize. She commended both laureates considering their works to be exemplary of the vitality of Arab culture, its richness and the link it establishes with other cultures by means of openness, creation and optimism.
Bahia Shehab expressed her gratitude to the Director-General, International Jury and organizers of the Prize, and the Sharjah authorities for their appreciation of her work. Receiving the award is very significant to her as she views herself as a global citizen belonging to a world beyond borders and notions of nations drawn by man. “To me these borders do not exist. To my mind the divide is no longer between us and them, between East and West or North and South, but rather a divide between those who are enlightened, compassionate, considerate, humble and kind, and those who are not.”, she said.
For Shehab the award comes as a testimony that culture can manifest itself in any form. The street is an essential social space for dialogue. It brings art closer to the people, “unlike museums, the streets are not exclusive,” she emphasized. Finally, Shehab called for more governments around the Arab world to recognize the importance of culture as an essential bridge between different civilizations and different ideologies. Hoping that more women will take initiatives to make their dreams concrete.
eL Seed on his part, spoke of his expedition through shedding light on how using calligraphy as an art medium has helped him embrace both his French and Tunisian identities, and travel beyond borders to connect with peoples and cultures. He elaborated that the message of embracing and learning from cultures is at the core of his artwork as an ambassador of culture and a citizen of the world.
H.E. Mr. Abdullah Al Owais, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Information of Sharjah, illustrated the cultural activities supported by the Sharjah Emirate. He indicated that it has been Sharjah’s mission to promote a vivid cultural landscape in many places around the world. On his part, H.E. Mr. Abdullah Alneaimi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to UNESCO reiterated that the Prize embodies the approach and direction the Sharjah Emirate takes towards achieving moderation, tolerance and cultural advancement.
Hiam Abbass, President of the International Jury of the 14th edition, stated that this edition relished significant innovations by choosing two dynamic artists of whom one is a woman artist from the Arab region. She hopes that this will incite countries and organizations to submit more candidatures for deserving females for future editions. She also expressed her satisfaction that the Jury of the 14th edition decided to honor two artists in recognition of the role art plays in enriching and promoting Arab culture.
The event concluded with the two laureates presenting a calligraffiti painting that they prepared together for UNESCO.
Bahia Shehab (b. 1977) is an Egyptian artist, designer and art historian, whose work has been displayed in exhibitions, galleries and on the streets of cities in many parts of the world. As an engaged and committed calligraffiti artist, Bahia’s project, No, A Thousand Times No, is a series of graffiti images centered on the one thousand ways of writing “no” in Arabic. Her artistic work in graffiti brings to the forefront issues pertaining to political and economic injustices, as well as personal issues and gender-based violations, reflecting her conviction that art is a tool for change that can provoke people to leave their comfort zone and engage in action for justice.
eL Seed, was born in Paris to Tunisian parents in 1981 and learned to read and write Arabic in his late teens. He developed his unique pictorial style in calligraffiti that mixes poetry, calligraphy and graffiti and disseminates messages of peace and beauty perceptible even to those unable to decipher Arabic writing. eL Seed says that the beauty of calligraffiti is like music that can be appreciated independently of intellectual analysis. As an artist of Maghrebin background, he uses his artwork in public spaces to engage viewers in a dialogue that questions stereotypical narratives around Arab and Islamic culture in Europe.
Created in 1998 at the initiative of the United Arab Emirates, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture rewards the efforts of two personalities or organizations, one from an Arab country and one from any other country, who have made a significant contribution to the development, dissemination and promotion of Arab culture in the world. The Prize carries a monetary value of $60,000, equally divided between the two laureates.
Director-General Irina Bokova, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue, Herbie Hancock, will join an extraordinary array of artists from around the world in Cuba for the sixth annual International Jazz Day. An All-Star Global Concert will be offered at the Gran Teatro de La Habana Alicia Alonso, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture of Cuba, the Cuban Institute of Music and the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO. The musically vibrant and culturally rich city of Havana, Cuba, has been selected to serve as the 2017 Global Host City, presented each year on April 30th, in close collaboration with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz.
The 2017 celebration in Havana of the International Jazz Day coincides with the seventieth anniversary of Cuba’s accession to UNESCO and the foundation of the National Commission for UNESCO.
As part of International Jazz Day celebrations, the Director-General will also attend a concert featuring young Cuban musicians, and participate in the presentation of the movie “Jazz and Film” alongside Herbie Hancock and Quincy Jones.
While in Cuba, from 28 April to 1 May 2017, the Director-General is expected to meet with the Minister of Sciences, Technology and Environment, Ms Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, the Minister of TICs and Communications Mr Maimir Mesa Ramos and the Minister of Culture, Mr Abel Prieto Jiménez. She will also meet Mr Eusebio Leal Spengler, Historian of Old Havana and its historical centre, inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1982.
Critical Minds for Critical Times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies is the theme of UNESCO’s main celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, 3 May. The event will take place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1 to 4 May.
The programme of the four-day conference has been designed to raise awareness of the importance of free and fact based journalism in promoting peace and justice, and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the 16th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. The event is organized with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council.
The 3 May celebration will be opened by Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. It will feature a plenary session on Quality journalism: a public good for just, peaceful and inclusive societies and six parallel sessions on subjects spanning media and information as a bulwark against hate speech, inclusiveness and gender equality, and violent extremism. A specific session will be dedicated to Press Freedom in Southeast Asia.
In the evening of 3 May, Ms Bokova will award the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Dawit Isaak, the imprisoned Eritrean-born journalist who will be represented by his daughter, Bethelem Isaak, during a ceremony that will be hosted by Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia.
The morning of 4 May, will be dedicated to a 2nd plenary session entitled Spotlight on investigative journalism: Perspectives from Southeast Asia and beyond. It will be followed by six parallel sessions on subjects including the impact of fake news on journalism, journalists’ safety and internet universality.
Artistic freedom, a principle enshrined in UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, will be the focus of three sessions on 2 and 4 May.
Notable speakers to address the conference will include José Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Richard Gingras, Vice President of News at Google, and Oscar Cantu Murguia, editor of Norte, the Mexican newspaper that had to close down operations this month following the killing of one of its journalists.
The main concerns and principles expressed during the four-day conference will be reflected in a declaration, the Jakarta Declaration, that participants are expected to adopt at the close of the event.
Also in Jakarta on 3 and 4 May, Hong Kong Baptist University will host a conference about academic research into issues pertaining to the safety of journalists with participants from many countries.
Some 30 partners are contributing to World Press Freedom Day 2017 in Jakarta with events that will feature training sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions and are expected to draw more than 1,200 participants.
Approximately 80 other Press Freedom events are being organized around the world this year and leading news organizations including Al Jazeera, El Pais and Rappler will host dedicated blogs and feature special content for World Press Freedom Day. An awareness-campaign has been launched with the Cartooning for Peace Network to raise visibility on the importance of freedom of expression through a series of press cartoons.
A partnership of intergovernmental, scientific and educational institutions has launched a global commitment to raise awareness for the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of our ocean.
Most of us live our lives unaware of how our day-to-day actions impact on the health of the ocean, or how the health of the ocean impacts on our own daily lives. Entitled “Ocean Literacy for all: a global strategy to raise the awareness for the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of our ocean”, this global initiative aims to change this through an improved public knowledge base across the world’s population regarding our global ocean and the close links between ocean and human well-being.
Backed by a partnership of over a dozen intergovernmental, scientific and civil society organizations, the “Ocean Literacy for All” initiative will focus its activities around three main goals:
- Encourage cooperation and exchange on ocean education to improve ocean literacy frameworks
- Raise awareness of the two-way interactions between the ocean and peoples’ daily lives to empower citizens to adjust everyday behaviors
- Apply innovative means to generating an ocean literate citizenry that recognizes environmental challenges and makes systematically informed and responsible decisions related to ocean stewardship and the use of ocean resources.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) will coordinate “Ocean Literacy for All” activities in close collaboration with all official partners*. A number of activities are planned over the next two years, including a global month-long online workshop on ocean literacy, the creation of an online networking and resource-sharing platform, and the development of ocean literacy training and academic programmes for youth as well as for the business and policy sectors.
The “Ocean Literacy for All” initiative was conceived as one substantive outcome of the United Nations Ocean Conference (5-9 June 2017), to take place at the UN Headquarters in New York. The initiative figures on The Ocean Conference Registry of Voluntary Commitments alongside other commitments undertaken by Governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, the private sector, scientific institutions and other stakeholders toward the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 – to conserve and sustainable use our ocean.
Please visit the official UN Ocean Conference website for a comprehensive view of the programme, expected outcomes, and voluntary commitments.
For more information, please contact:
Francesca Santoro (f.santoro(at)unesco.org), for information about the “Ocean Literacy for All” initiative.
Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org), for information about UNESCO’s IOC in the Ocean Conference.
*Official “Ocean Literacy for All” partners include: College of Exploration, Consortium for Ocean Science Exploration and Engagement, European Marine Science Educators Association, World Ocean Network, Ocean Frontier Institute, Ciencia Viva, Italian Network on Ocean Literacy, Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, Asia Marine Science Education Association, Canadian Network for Ocean Education, Planeta Oceano, Centre for Environment & Society of Washington College, Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance.