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
The achievements and lessons learned of a project to advance ICT in teaching training in Africa will be shared at a meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 29 to 31 March 2017.
The Phase I conclusion and Phase II Launch Meeting on the UNESCO/China-Funds-in-Trust (CFIT) project “Harnessing Technology for Quality Teacher Training in Africa” will be attended by ministerial and institutional representatives, the Permanent Delegations to UNESCO from the ten CFIT countries, the donor country China, and external evaluators.
The meeting will address the achievements and lessons learned in eight Phase I project countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Namibia, Congo, DR Congo, Liberia, Tanzania, and Uganda. The meeting will also launch the Phase II of the projects, in the Phase I countries, and two additional countries: Togo and Zambia.
In the first phase of the project, over 100 training workshops were organized and the capacity of approximately 10,000 educators were strengthened. In addition, over 230 teacher training modules and policy documents were revised or developed, and have been institutionalized. Over 2,400 pieces of equipment has been purchased and installed, seven online teaching and learning platforms and three digital libraries were established, linking over 30 teacher-training institutions.
The CFIT project was launched in 2012 with a budget of $8 million donated by the Chinese government for a four-year period ending in 2016. The Chinese government is providing an additional $4 million to extend the project for a second phase from 2017 to 2018. The project is one of UNESCO’s initiatives to accelerate progress towards Goal 4 (Quality Education) and Goal 9 (Innovation) in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Key teacher training institutes enabled
At the end of the project, it is expected that the capacity of the selected key teacher education/training institutions of target countries will be enhanced. More specifically:
The implementation in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Namibia was completed in December 2015, and the implementation in Congo, DR Congo, Tanzania, and Uganda was completed in February 2017. External evaluations were also carried out and the results will be presented at the meeting.
Predicting the weather and natural catastrophes, breaking complex cryptographic codes, optimizing the routes for millions of travelers… In the era of Big Data, traditional computers are reaching their limits in terms of size and power. Professor Michelle Simmons has been developing the computers of the future: quantum computers. Last week she received a L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award, in recognition of her research on these extremely small and powerful machines, which could solve certain problems in 10 seconds compared to many thousands of years for a traditional computer.
This breakthrough is possible thanks to the atomic transistor. A transistor is the main component of all computers and it is the interconnection between millions of transistors on chips that allow electronics devices to work. The classical transistor was invented in 1947 and has been decreasing in size ever since, but Prof. Simmons’ work shows that it is now possible to create transistors all the way down to the atomic scale. In 2010, after perfecting the fabrication process for over a decade, her research team at the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology in Sydney succeeded in creating the world’s first atomic transistor from several atoms of phosphorus embedded in a silicon crystal. These transistors will be used to make tiny computers that exploit the principles of quantum mechanics to process information much faster than is possible with conventional computers.
In 2012, together with her team, she broke another world record by creating a transistor made from just one atom. The same year, they succeeded in fabricating the thinnest conducting doped wires in silicon. These wires are 10 000 times thinner than a human hair and are key components of an atomic-sized computer.
“Optimization and machine learning problems are amongst the first application areas,” explains Prof. Simmons. “For example, UPS have noted that if they can shorten the distance that their drivers travel in the US by one mile every day, they will save their company 50 million dollars a year.”
The researcher has six patents in this space to prepare for such potential applications in industry. She has also published more than 380 articles in some of the most prestigious scientific journals. She is also a natural leader, and one of the youngest scientist to have been elected to the Australian Academy of Sciences, when she was just 36 years old in 2006. An outstanding communicator, she now directs 180 researchers at the Center of Excellence which she helped to co-found in 2000. Not afraid of challenges, she chose the field of quantum physics for its complexity and her wish to “push things to their limits”. Her greatest achievement is having convinced the world that atomic-scale electronics is possible, paving the way forward for a quantum revolution in computing.
The 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards
The 2017 Edition of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards Ceremony celebrated 5 eminent women scientists and their excellence, creativity and intelligence. For the past 19 years, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme has worked to honour and accompany women researchers at key moments in their careers. Since the programme began, it has supported more than 2,700 young women from 115 countries and celebrated 97 Laureates, at the peak of their careers, including professors Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Ada Yonath, who went on to win a Nobel Prize. The Awards are presented every year to five women, one from each world region (Africa and the Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America).
On 27 March, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, will participate in a launch event for the collection on “Different Aspects of Islamic Culture”, which was completed in November 2016, held at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, in Oxford, United Kingdom.
The Director-General, Dr Farhan Nizami, Founder-Director of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, a representative of the World Islamic Call Society (WICS) and Dr Abdulrahim Ali, Editor of Volume VI, will open the event. A panel discussion on "Common Heritage and Cultural Diversity in Muslim Societies: Understanding the Past, Building the Future" will follow, with addresses from Professor Marcia Hermansen, Loyola University, Professor Carole Hillenbrand, St Andrews University, and Professor Bruce Lawrence, Duke University.
"The Different Aspects of Islamic Culture" is the latest collection of UNESCO's General and Regional Histories Project, a project that introduces another way of writing the history of populations by de-compartmentalizing historical narratives and by putting an emphasis on the values and links between populations on a regional and global scale.
This collection has been completed with financial and logistical support from the World Islamic Call Society (WICS) of Libya. It is a collection of six thematic volumes that gathers the contributions of around 150 scholars, Muslims and non-Muslims, from all over the world. It reflects profound academic exchanges among members of the Scientific Committee of the project, editors and authors, in order to present a comprehensive historical and geographical overview of Islamic culture.
The eight Member States of the Bureau deliberated for two days and agreed finally to support national media development projects in 38 countries.
Elected in 2016 by the 39 members of the Council, the Bureau also voted support for six regional projects and one international venture.
Community media, safety of journalists and gender in the media were the most supported areas this year, followed by investigative journalism and legislative and policy reform on press freedom law.
In addition to this, and thanks to a generous contribution made by The Netherlands, a series of larger scale projects and initiatives will also be supported to promote access to information and the safety of journalists around the world.
Bureau members were also able to assess progress on projects recently launched through IPDC, such as the Post COP 21: Strengthening media capacity to monitor and report on climate change in Asia Pacific (supported by Malaysia); and Defining Internet Universality Indicators (supported by Sweden).
Updates were also given on the projects Journalists and Media – Governance in the Gambia (supported by the European Union), and Training judicial authorities in Africa on freedom of expression and the safety of journalists through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) (supported by Denmark).
IPDC Bureau members further received reports on the Programme’s four Special Initiatives: 1) The Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity; 2) Media-related Indicators: Media Development Indicators (MDIs) and Journalists Safety Indicators (JSIs); 3) Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education; and 4) Knowledge-Driven Media Development: Follow-up to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Chaired by Ms. Albana Shala (The Netherlands), the current IPDC Bureau is made up of representatives of Bangladesh, Denmark, Ecuador, Ghana, Niger, Oman, Poland and Zambia.
The IPDC was set up in 1980 as a specialised intergovernmental programme in the UN system to mobilize international support in order to contribute to sustainable development, democracy and good governance by strengthening the capacities of free and independent media.
Since its creation, IPDC has channeled more than US$ 106 million to 1,800 media development projects in 140 countries.
Coordinated by the National Union of Tunisian journalists (SNJT), the "Monitoring and Documentation Unit on Attacks against Journalists" is supported by UNESCO and the Tunisia Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Ms Sylvie Coudray, Chief of Section for Freedom of Expression at UNESCO; Mr Dimiter Chalev, representative of the OHCHR in Tunisia; the SNJT’s president and members of its executive board; and members of the new monitoring unit attended the kick-off meeting.
The meeting came as part of the SNJT’s efforts, in partnership with UNESCO and OHCHR, to promote the safety of journalists and fight against impunity, within the framework of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
This new monitoring unit consists of a team of four specialists, selected through an open call: a project coordinator, two monitors and a lawyer. Their work builds on a series of joint trainings: first trainings on the safety of journalists organized by the SNJT and the UNESCO Project Office in Tunis (between July and October 2016) and then trainings on monitoring and documentation of rights violations organized by the SNJT and OHCHR (between November and December 2016).
This collaboration between the SNJT, UNESCO and OHCHR aims to sensitize and mobilize the various actors in the Tunisian media landscape in order to enhance their ability to protect journalists and defend freedom of expression and information. The unit will contribute to this goal through monitoring and documentation of attacks against journalists and freedom of expression, particularly in relation to the issue of impunity.
The monitoring mechanism will also represent a tool for the media community in Tunisia to provide assistance on specific cases, as well as a resource for national and international press freedom groups in Tunisia. It will enable the SNJT to issue alerts, submit detailed reports and organize campaigns and activities for journalists suffering from serious attacks of freedom of expression.
The monitoring unit could facilitate the creation of the journalists' security center, foreseen in the lead-up to the establishment of a national action plan on the safety of journalists and the fight against impunity in Tunisia.
As a pilot project launched by the SNJT, the monitoring unit’s work will initially last for one year. The project will benefit from financial and technical support from the OHCHR in the first phase and from UNESCO in the second phase, within the context of a project financed by Sweden to promote freedom of expression in the Arab region.
The unit will present the initial results of its work in November 2017 in Tunis at a commemoration event for the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists.
Between 26 March and 11 April 2017, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel, is visiting Samoa, the Cook Islands, New Zealand and Fiji. High on her agenda will be a ministerial meeting on 29 and 30 March in Apia, Samoa, with representatives of 13 developing Pacific island nations.
She will be officiating over this UNESCO Dialogue with the International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA)on Science and Science Policy for the Sustainable Development Goals in the subregion. INGSA is chaired by Sir Peter Gluckman, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand.
When the previous edition of the UNESCO Science Report was published in 2010, it found that the lack of national and regional policy frameworks was still a major stumbling block for developing integrated national agendas in Pacific island states. The latest edition of the UNESCO Science Report (2015) notes that the subregion has since moved forward in this regard by establishing a number of regional bodies to address technological issues for sectorial development. None of these agencies has a specific mandate for science and technology policy, however. Examples are the:
A Pacific–European network to strengthen policy and research
The establishment of the Pacific–Europe Network for Science, Technology and Innovation (PACE-Net Plus) goes some way towards filling the void in science policy, at least temporarily. Funded by the European Commission within its Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development (2007–2013), this project has spanned the period 2013–2016 and thus overlaps with the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme (2014–2020).
PACE–Net Plus sets out to reinforce the dialogue between the Pacific region and Europe, support biregional research and innovation through calls for research proposals and to promote scientific excellence and industrial and economic competition. Ten of its 16 members come from the Pacific region and the remainder from Europe.
The Pacific partners are the Australian National University, Montroix Pty Ltd (Australia), University of the South Pacific, Institut Malardé in French Caledonia, National Centre for Technological Research into Nickel and its Environment in New Caledonia, South Pacific Community, Landcare Research Ltd in New Zealand, University of Papua New Guinea, Samoa National University and the Vanuatu Cultural Centre.
The other six partners are: the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Institut de recherche pour le développement in France, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union, the Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovação, United Nations Industrial Development Organization and Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology in Germany.
PACE-Net Plus focuses on three societal challenges:
A conference held in Suva (Fiji) in 2012 under the umbrella of PACE–Net Plus produced recommendations for a strategic plan for research, innovation and development in the Pacific. The conference report published in 2013 identified research needs in the Pacific in seven areas: health; agriculture and forestry; fisheries and aquaculture; biodiversity and ecosystem management; freshwater; natural hazards; and energy.
The conference also established the Pacific Islands University Research Network to support knowledge creation and sharing and to prepare succinct recommendations for the development of a regional policy framework for science, technology and innovation. This formal research network complements the Fiji-based University of the South Pacific, which has campuses in other Pacific Island countries.
Importance of data to inform policy
It was intended for the policy role of the Pacific Islands University Research Network to be informed by evidence gleaned from measuring capability in science, technology and innovation but the absence of data presents a formidable barrier. As of 2015, only Fiji had recent data on expenditure on research and development (R&D), which it calculated at 0.15% of GDP. None of the Pacific island countries had published recent data on researchers and technicians.
Without relevant data, it will be difficult for developing Pacific Island states to monitor their progress towards Sustainable Development target 9.5, namely: Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.
Industrial sectors with potential for development
The UNESCO Science Report observes that ‘Pacific Island economies are mostly dependent on natural resources, with a tiny manufacturing sector and no heavy industry’. Moreover, ‘the trade balance is currently more skewed towards imports than exports, with the exception of Papua New Guinea, which has a mining industry’.
Forestry is an important industry for both Fiji and Papua New Guinea, for instance, but it uses low and semi-intensive technological inputs. As a result, only a few limited finished products are exported. There is a need to adopt automated machinery and design in forestry and to improve training, in order to add value to exports.
In addition to forestry, fisheries and agriculture are key economic sectors in Fiji. The government plans to diversify the fisheries sector to ensure it remains sustainable. This is fuelling a drive to use science and technology to make the transition to value-added production. The fisheries sector in Fiji is currently dominated by the catch of tuna for the Japanese market. The Fijian government is offering incentives and concessions to encourage the private sector to invest in aquaculture, inshore fisheries and offshore fish products such as sunfish and deep-water snapper.
In agriculture, Fiji is shifting away from subsistence agriculture towards commercial agriculture and agro-processing of root crops, tropical fruits, vegetables, spices, horticulture and livestock.
Fiji also plans to become a Pacific hub for ICT support services. Relative to many other South Pacific Islands, Fiji has a fairly reliable telecommunications system with access to the Southern Cross submarine cable linking New Zealand, Australia and North America. A recent move to establish the University of the South Pacific Stathan ICT Park, the Kalabo ICT economic zone and the ATH technology park in Fiji should support this ambition.
A subregional approach to improving climate resilience
For the UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 (2015), ‘climate change seems to be the most pressing environmental issue for developing Pacific island countries, as it is already affecting almost all socio-economic sectors. The consequences of climate change can be seen in agriculture, food security, forestry and even in the spread of communicable diseases’. Rising sea levels are increasing the salinity of soils and groundwater, for instance, threatening agriculture and freshwater supplies, even as many island populations are growing and urbanizing.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Community has initiated several activities to tackle problems associated with climate change. These cover a great variety of areas, including fisheries, freshwater, agriculture, coastal zone management, disaster management, energy, traditional knowledge, education, forestry, communication, tourism, culture, health, weather, gender implications and biodiversity. Almost all Pacific Island countries are involved in one or more of these activities.
The first major scheme focusing on adaptation to climate change and climate variability dates back to 2009. Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change involves 13 Pacific Island nations, with international funding from the Global Environment Facility, as well as from the US and Australian governments.
Several projects fostering greater eocystem resilience to climate change are also being co-ordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme, wthin the Secretariat of the Pacific Region Environmental Programme.
In February 2014, the European Union and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat signed an agreement for a programme on Adapting to Climate Change and Sustainable Energy worth €37.3 million which will benefit 15 Pacific Island states. These are the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Renewable energy taking hold
The development of sustainable energy offers numerous advantages for the vast, fragmented territories of Pacific island nations. On average, countries set aside 10% of GDP to fund imports of petroleum products but this figure can exceed 30% in some cases. In addition to high fuel transportation costs, this reliance on fossil fuels leaves Pacific economies vulnerable to volatile global fuel prices and potential spills by oil tankers.
Consequently, many Pacific Island countries are investing in renewable energy. In Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu, renewable energy sources already represent significant shares of the total electricity supply: 60%, 66%, 37% and 15% respectively. Tokelau has even become the first country in the world to generate 100% of its electricity using renewable sources.
According to the Secretariat of the Pacific Community(1), renewable energy still represented less than 10% of total energy use in the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories in 2015. The regional body observed that, 'while Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa are leading the way with large-scale hydropower projects, there is enormous potential to expand the deployment of other renewable energy options such as solar, wind, geothermal and ocean-based energy sources'.
International development partners are participating in several projects to develop renewable energy in the Pacific island states. In April 2014, Pacific Ministers for Energy and Transport agreed to establish the Pacific Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, 'a first for the Pacific'. The centre will be part of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s network of regional Sustainable Energy for All Centres of Excellence.
Since 2013, the European Union has funded the Renewable Energy in Pacific Island Countries Developing Skills and Capacity programme (EPIC). EPIC has developed two master’s programmes in renewable energy management and helped to establish two Centres of Renewable Energy, one at the University of Papua New Guinea and the other at the University of Fiji. Both centres became operational in 2014 and aim to create a regional knowledge hub for the development of renewable energy.
High international collaboration rates a double-edged sword
In order to tackle local problems effectively, countries are seeking ways to link their national knowledge base to regional and global advances in science. More than three-quarters of articles published by scientists from Pacific Island nations between 2008 and 2014 were signed by international collaborators, according to Thomson Reuters' Web of Science (Science Citation Index Expanded). The rate of international collaboration was high in the larger countries of Fiji (83%), Papua New Guinea (90%) and Vanuatu (95%) and even attained 100% in some of the smaller island states, such as in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Tonga and Tuvalu.
All of these countries count North American partners among their top five partners. Many also collaborate closely with scientists from Australia and Europe. Some Pacific Island states also count one another among their closest scientific collaborators, as in the case of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
One motivation for this greater interconnectedness is the region’s vulnerability to geohazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis – the Pacific Rim is not known as the Ring of Fire for nothing. In 2009, Samoa and Tonga were affected by a submarine earthquake of a magnitude of 8.1 on the Richter Scale, the strongest earthquake recorded that year. The subsequent tsunami caused substantial damage and loss of life in both countries.
Between 2002 and 2014, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu published the greatest number of articles in geosciences: 126, 86 and 37 respectively. In Papua New Guinea, half of these articles were produced after 2007 but in Fiji, the figure was 67% and, in Vanuatu 76%, suggesting a growing interest in this field. In Samoa and Tonga, on the other hand, only one and three articles had been published in geosciences five years after the 2009 earthquake.
The high rate of international co-authorship in developing Pacific island states can be a double-edged sword. According to the Fijian Ministry of Health, research collaboration often results in an article being published in a reputed journal but gives very little back in terms of strengthening health in Fiji. A new set of guidelines are now in place in Fiji to help build endogenous capacity in health research through training and access to new technology. The new policy guidelines require that all research projects initiated in Fiji with external bodies demonstrate how the project will contribute to local capacity-building in health research.
Local journals to nurture endogenous research
In 2012, the Fijian Ministry of Health launched the Fiji Journal of Public Health, in an attempt to develop endogenous research capacity. In parallel, the Ministry of Agriculture revived Fiji’s Agricultural Journal in 2013, which had been dormant for 17 years. Between 2008 and 2014, agriculture accounted for only 11 out of Fiji's 460 articles catalogued in Thomson Reuters' Web of Science, compared to 72 for health.
Two regional journals were also launched in 2009 to provide a focus for Pacific scientific research, the Samoan Medical Journal and the Papua New Guinea Journal of Research, Science and Technology.
(1)Pacific-first centre of excellence for renewable energy and energy efficiency takes shape. Secretariat of Pacific Community press release. 18 June 2015.
Source: adapted from UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030 (2015), pp. 724-729; source of publications data: Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science, Science Citation Index Expanded, data treatment by Science-Metrix.
Roland Kalamo lives and studies at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. The Congolese university student and youth community activist is pursuing a degree in Applied Arts. “It is human behaviour to think that everyone is just like you and that we all are the same,” he says. “Yet, the similarities we have as humans are not applicable in all the fields.” Roland’s words kicked off the Mobile Learning Week Symposium’s on how technology can provide continuity of education for displaced learners.
Roland says that while refugee learners face numerous obstacles, they also carry the potential to transform educational practices. “A normal citizen learns to fit into society,” he says. “But a refugee brings change to a society.” For Roland, who studies with Jesuit World Learning’s online diploma program, education provides him with skills and knowledge, and empowers him as a community leader. It has brought him to think differently about his role in his community. Roland says he has learned to listen to people who do not agree with him or his ideas and seek to find common ground. While pursuing his diploma, he founded an organization with other refugees called Movement of Youth for Peace and Change, which teaches youth at Kakuma about human rights, peace building and conflict resolution through training in arts like cinema and music, language, journalism and sports.
After his own experience with mobile learning, Roland is inspired to empower other young people to understand that they are part of the solutions to their own problems. Rosalind Hudnell, President of sponsoring organization Intel Foundation, addressed his words in her plenary address. “Roland is right. A refugee is not just a refugee. A refugee is a student, a teacher, and a social transformer,” she said.
Mobile solutions to address the challenges of displaced people
Although there are multiple obstacles such as connectivity facing refugee learners like Roland, mobile learning provides them with an opportunity to invest in their own lives and potential, gaining some control over their futures. “When a refugee is using mobile learning, they enjoy the same rights as a normal citizen and no matter the circumstances,” Roland says. “If they’re alive and have access to internet, nothing will stop them from learning.”
The program of Mobile Learning Week is designed to present diverse initiatives and facilitate discussion and collaboration between actors across different sectors of society. Participants, whether national ministers of education or leaders at a grassroots NGO, will return to their countries with plans and solutions toward successfully integrating mobile technologies to aid education in crises.
Mobile Learning Week exhibited two UNHCR tents used by refugee families, one assembled with a living kit to manifest the living and learning conditions of those displaced, and another with live demonstrations of mobile-learning solutions designed to work in unstable conditions or without internet connectivity.
Interactive Workshops, from a solar-powered digital audio player for teacher education in South Sudan, to smartphone games for Syrian refugee children, demonstrated how mobile solutions are able to meet the unique challenges of displaced people.
New York, 24 March 2017 - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova addressed today’s public briefing of the United Nations Security Council on “Maintenance of international peace and security: destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorist groups and in situations of armed conflict,” where the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2347 for the protection of heritage.
“The deliberate destruction of heritage is a war crime, it has become a tactic of war to tear societies over the long term, in a strategy of cultural cleansing. This is why defending cultural heritage is more than a cultural issue, it is a security imperative, inseparable from that of defending human lives," Director-General Bokova told the Security Council, as she spoke in support of the resolution, with Executive Director of UNODC Youri Fedotov and Commander Fabrizio Parrulli of the Carabinieri Italiani.
"Weapons are not enough to defeat violent extremism. Building peace requires culture also; it requires education, prevention, and the transmission of heritage. This is the message of this historic resolution," she added.
The briefing by Director-General Bokova before the Security Council marked the first time a Director-General of UNESCO has been invited in this capacity. The briefing was held at the initiative of France and Italy and under the Presidency of the United Kingdom.
The Director-General went on to explain that since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2199 in 2015, which prohibits trade in cultural property from Iraq and Syria, efforts are well-underway to disrupt terrorist financing through the illicit trafficking of antiquities. “In a global movement launched by UNESCO, some 50 States have strengthened their legislation and are sharing information and data, to dismantle trafficking routes, to facilitate restitutions.
“Together, UNESCO, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, customs services, the private sector and museums are all bolstering cooperation, coordinating new action," she said.
Commander Fabrizio Parulli of the Carabinieri Italiani and the Unite4heritage task force shared the latest data on illicit trafficking, recalling that over 800,000 artefacts have been seized since 1969 by Italian forces in the fight against the financing of criminal activities.
Resolution 2347 is the first ever resolution adopted by the Security Council to focus on Cultural heritage. The unanimous support to the Resolution reflects a new recognition of the importance of heritage protection for peace and security. UNESCO is guardian of a wide array of legal instruments that are of vital importance in the protection of cultural heritage. These include the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property on the Event of Armed Conflict (1954) and its two Protocols, as well as the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting the Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972).
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) and the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission (DG MARE) adopted today a "Joint Roadmap to accelerate Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning processes worldwide".
The roadmap identifies common challenges and proposals for actions to be implemented in the coming years, reaching out for collaboration with other UN bodies and Member States. The joint document is a practical outcome of the Second International Conference on Maritime/ Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) organised jointly by DG-MARE and IOC-UNESCO on 15-17 March 2017.
The main objective of the Conference was to review the status of Maritime/Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) - one decade after the first International MSP Conference – and to identify a path forward that addresses multiple global challenges from 2017 onwards.
The outcome went far beyond expectations, showcasing an international community of planners and stakeholders ready to identify solutions and commit to cross-sectoral actions in order to conserve our oceans and seas and to use their resources in a more sustainable way.
Exchanging experiences and networking, including through innovative tools such as gaming and cartooning, brought together 300 maritime players around the table and empowered them to promote the planning of the maritime space around the globe.
Across eleven thematic sessions, conference speakers highlighted MSP as a significant planning tool and process to implement global ocean governance goals and in particular the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It can ensure that the global ocean remains healthy and sustainably managed, delivering economic growth, jobs and resources to all countries.
The 2nd International Conference on MSP reflected the international momentum for a global boost in MSP implementation. Participants walked out with renewed appetite for joint initiatives and further cross-border collaboration, and the two co-organizers kicked-off a significant political commitment through the joint MSP roadmap.
The roadmap will be submitted to the UN Conference on SDG 14 (5-9 June 2017) by IOC-UNESCO and DG MARE as part of a joint voluntary commitment highlighting the contribution of MSP to the implementation of Agenda 2030. The two organizations intend to host a special side event on MSP during the Conference to present the MSP roadmap and to catalyse partnerships with all relevant stakeholders.
For more information, please contact:
Julian Barbière (j.barbiere(at)unesco.org)
On the occasion of the Arab Anti-Doping Symposium that took place in Riyadh from 19 to 20 March 2017, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia committed to invest 50,000 USD in the Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport.
To encourage anti-doping momentum, a further 100,000 USD to support the activities of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was also pledged.
Aimed at strengthening the anti-doping fight in the Arab region, the Symposium’s agenda included the sharing of experiences and good practices between National Anti-Doping Organizations; updates on WADA’s accredited laboratories; information on WADA compliance policy and mechanisms; as well as an overview of the implementation status of UNESCO’s International Convention against Doping in Sport. UNESCO was represented at the meeting by the Secretary of the Convention, Mr Marcellin Dally, who delivered a keynote address on the need for public authorities to fulfil their obligations related to the provisions of the Convention, as well as the importance of inter-regional partnerships.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, currently holding the position of President of the Bureau of the Conference of Parties of the Convention (represented by Dr Mohammed Saleh Al-Konbaz, Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Anti-Doping Committee), recognized the importance of cross-country capacity building and highlighted the unique role of UNESCO’s Fund for the elimination of doping in sport.
One of the key outcomes of the Symposium is the recommendation to establish an “Arab Anti-Doping Forum” for a consolidated and comprehensive approach to anti-doping challenges in the region.
UNESCO is grateful to all Member States who have contributed to the Fund in the 2016-2017 biennium, including Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Monaco, the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.
Contact: Marcellin Dally, m.dally(at)unesco.org
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will award the 14th edition of the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture to an Egyptian artist, Bahia Shehab, the first woman from the Arab region to receive this award, and French artist eL Seed.
The award ceremony of the Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture will take place on 18 April at UNESCO’s Headquarters (Room IV, 4.15 pm).
An international jury recommended the two laureates to the Director-General for their innovative use of Arabic calligraphy in street art.
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.
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The Colloquium Journalism under fire: challenges of our time, featured lively debates from leading social scientists, journalists, and representatives of social media companies and media development organizations through four roundtable discussions.
Topics ranged from rise of identity politics, to threats to business models, responses to the spread of “fake news”, the role of social media platforms, and the importance of journalism training and media and information literacy.
In her opening remarks, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova explained that the event comes within the spirit of the Organization’s mandates to promote freedom of expression and to “act as a laboratory of ideas”, providing “a forum for debate on difficult questions of the day.”
“Combined with the concept of ‘fake news’, we see the rise of new forms of manipulation, propaganda, disinformation, raising questions that go to the heart of free, independent and professional journalism today,” observed Director-General Bokova.
These issues were the subject of a recent Joint Declaration on ‘Fake News’, Disinformation and Propaganda issued by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression and his counter-parts at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).
In the colloquium’s opening, the President of the World Editors Forum, Marcelo Rech, identified additional challenges to journalism, namely the lack of public trust in the institution of journalism, the development of echo chambers on social media, and challenges to economic models.
“In opposition to fake news and echo chambers, professional journalists have to become 24/7 certifiers of the reality around us,” Rech stated. “Truth is the scarcest good in this new and scary world. But truth is exactly the product good newsrooms manufacture.”
The complex relationship between traditional media and social platforms appeared throughout the day’s discussions.
In light of Facebook’s major role as a platform for content distribution, Norwegian newspaper editor Espen Egil Hansen called Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg “the world’s most powerful editor”, noting that the company had moved beyond a tech company to being a media company.
Yet Facebook “really [doesn’t] want to be the world editors,” responded the company’s Director of Policy for Europe, Richard Allan, adding that as a social media company, Facebook does not fit perfectly into traditional regulatory frameworks developed for telecommunications companies or the media industry.
Maria Ressa, editor-in-chief and CEO of the Filipino online news site Rappler, urged more cooperation between traditional media and social media companies, stating, “We must work more closely with the tech platforms.”
The day ended with a reminder of the importance of quality journalism and media and information literacy for preserving truth, authenticity and critical thinking.
“Truth is not the result of an algorithm,” said UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Frank La Rue, in reference to the automated procedures that determine the rank order of social media newsfeeds and search engine results. “Truth is something we build together through honest dialogue.”
The role of journalism in facilitating this space for dialogue will be at the heart of this year’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day, under the theme Critical Times for Critical Minds: Media’s Role in Advancing Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies.
Today’s colloquium on “Journalism under Fire” was organized by UNESCO’s Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development with the support of the International Programme for the Development of Communication, the World Associations of Newspapers and News Editors (WAN-IFRA), and the Governments of Finland, Indonesia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands.
It took place during La Presse en Liberté week, which includes an exhibition of first-edition newspapers and debates on press freedom organized at UNESCO by the Delegations of France and Switzerland to UNESCO.
A summary of the highlights of the colloquium will be published on the conference website in the coming weeks. This will in turn provide input to the 2017 edition of the UNESCO flagship series World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development, to be published in November 2017.
UNESCO invites Members States, in consultation with their National Commissions, and non-governmental organizations maintaining formal consultative relations with UNESCO and active in a field covered by the Prize to propose candidates for the UNESCO-Juan Bosch Prize for the Promotion of Social Science Research in Latin America and the Caribbean 2017. Deadline for the submission of candidates: 30 May 2017 at midnight.
The Executive Board of UNESCO instituted the UNESCO/Juan Bosch Prize for the Promotion of Social Science Research in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2009 at the initiative of the Government of the Dominican Republic. In creating this Prize, the Executive Board recognized the remarkable contribution of Professor Juan Bosch to the study of social and political processes in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean region. An author, politician, social analyst and fervent advocate of democratic values and a culture of peace in Latin America and the Caribbean, he made a particular impact in the Dominican Republic and the entire region.
The purpose of the Prize is to reward, every two years, the best social science thesis, written by young researchers in the Latin American and Caribbean region, which has made a significant contribution to the promotion of research in the social sciences that endeavours to improve social development.
In accordance with its Statutes, the Prize consists of a diploma and of a monetary award of ten thousand US dollars for the successful candidate.
How to submit your nomination
Nominations for the Prize should be submitted no later than 30 May 2017, by filling out the nomination form in either English or Spanish.
Members States may not submit more than three candidates for any one edition of the Prize. No individual submissions will be allowed.
Download the Nomination Form
Send it, duly signed and stamped, together with supporting documentation on the work carried out by the candidate, to:
Mr Pedro Manuel Monreal Gonzalez
Executive Secretary of the UNESCO/Juan Bosch Prize
UNESCO - Social and Human Sciences Sector
7 place de Fontenoy 75352 Paris 07 SP FRANCE
Tel.: +33 1 45 68 38 62