On 24 and 25 July, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is undertaking an official visit to Chile, during which she is expected to meet with the President of the Republic, H.E. Michelle Bachelet and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Heraldo Muñoz.
She is also expected to meet high-level government officials including the Minister of Education, Ms. Adriana Delpiano, the Minister President of the National Council of Culture and the Arts, Mr. Ernesto Ottone, and the Minister of Social Development, Mr. Marcos Barraza.
While in Chile, the Director-General will give a lecture on “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: the Educational and Cultural dimensions" at the Chilean Diplomatic Academy. She will also visit the Human Rights and Memory Museum which was inaugurated in 2010 by President Bachelet.
She is expected to meet with the Director of Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums (DIBAM), Mr. Angel Cabezas, and Ms. Silvia Rucks, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Members of the UN Country Team.
Twenty-three representatives from the 10 UNESCO-China Funds-In-Trust (CFIT) Project joined a study tour in China to learn about the ICT in education experiences in China and other countries from 10 to 14 July 2017.
The study tour was composed of participants from the International Forum on ICT and Education 2030 Forum in Qingdao and the Dujiangyan International Forum – Ensuring Quality Education and Lifelong Learning through ICT that took place in Dujiangyan, Chengdu. During the forum, representatives actively engaged in themes including digital innovation for SDG 4, scaling up digital innovations for disadvantaged groups, national policies to leverage ICT to achieve education 2030, and future e-schools etc. In addition, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Congo presented their experience of using ICT for teacher training in the CFIT project in a CFIT dedicated session during the Qingdao Forum.
CFIT representatives also visited two rural primary schools which adopts the ‘Future school’ model and saw how ICT was used in student management, and facilitating interaction of teaching and learning in the classroom.
Participants found this study tour very useful, with many lessons learnt to further share and apply in their own countries. “This tour motivated me to support my country in exploring avenues to ICT-related application to enhance quality of learning,” said one participant. Another representative said: “I liked the diversity of the speakers, topics and backgrounds.” Many found the discussion and demonstration of ‘future schools’ fascinating and pledged to apply it in their countries: “It is an eye-opener for me,” said a participant. “I will identify key elements that are in line with the model of ‘future schools’ in my country and will incorporate it in our system.” Participants also thanked UNESCO, the Chinese National Commission to UNESCO, and the Government of China for this learning opportunity.
This is the fourth study tour of the CFIT Project, following the study tours in Beijing, China; Cote d’Ivoire; and Ethiopia in 2015, which aims at facilitating peer learning and south-south cooperation. Over 50 representatives from the CFIT countries have participated in these study tours to date.
The CFIT Project supports capacity building in teacher training / education institutions via ICT in 10 Africa countries, namely: Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Namibia, Congo, DR Congo, Liberia, Tanzania, Uganda, Togo, and Zambia.
Learn more about the UNESCO-China Funds-In Trust (CFIT) Project here.
The sixth plenary group meeting of the Regional Coordination Group on SDG4-Education 2030 for West and Central Africa (RCG4-WCA) took place on 6 July 2017 in Dakar. In addition to exchange on the latest activities, the group discussed its potential expansion in East and Southern Africa, as well as strategies to strengthen its internal and external communications efforts.
In addition to discussing the latest activities, the group discussed its potential expansion in East and Southern Africa as well as strategies to strengthen its internal and external communication efforts.
About ten member organizations, including the Institut de la Francophonie pour l’Education et la Formation (IFEF) that recently joined the Group, attended this meeting.
The three operational task teams shared updates on their major contributions over the last quarter. The Education Systems’ Strengthening task team is developing a guide to support countries in SDG4 integrating into national education planning. Following the review of professional standards for teachers in WCA, upon request of Member States, to bridge the gap between formal and non-formal basic education teachers in the region, the Teaching and Learning task team (TALENT) is organizing a technical validation workshop in Cameroun at the end of July. The Gender Equality and inclusive Education task team has completed a policy brief on girls’ education in WCA and is finalizing plans for its official launch.
Progress was also made with the task team on Higher Education led by the Conseil Africain et Malgache pour l’Enseignement Supérieur (CAMES) that will be officially launched in July. Moreover, AfDB agreed to lead the task team on Technical and Vocational Education and Training.
After a lively discussion on the perceived advantages as well as the possible challenges of an expansion of the group to East and Southern Africa (ESA), RCG4 decided to continue to function within its current scope of WCA. Once a corresponding group has been established in ESA, the RCG4 will return to the discussion of an Africa-wide coordination effort.
Participants were also introduced to the new Education 2030 in Africa web platform, which is expected to increase both internal knowledge sharing and coordination among organization members and external visibility.
The Group will continue its reflection on how to collaborate with the Regional Economic Communities and the African Union, and to strengthen its support to WCA countries. The next plenary group meeting is scheduled for mid-October.
Gender was the focus of the 3rd annual UNESCO panel on the safety of journalists at the 2017 academic conference of the International Association for Media and Communications Research, held in Cartagena, Colombia this week.
Setting the context, UNESCO’s director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, Guy Berger drew attention to draft recommendations arising from the Organization’s current global consultation on strengthening the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.
These include recommendations whereby:
The five research presentations in the session were titled:
The presenters were Carolyn M. Byerly (Howard University, USA); Aimeé Vega Montiel (National Autonomous University of Mexico, Center of Interdisciplinary Research in Sciences and Humanities); Linda Steiner (University of Maryland, USA); Jonathan Bock (Fundacion para Liberdade de la Prensa – FLIP, Colombia). Michelle Ferrier (Ohio University, USA) took part through video conferencing.
Commenting from the floor, Prof Rune Otteson (Oslo University College, Norway) said that it was important to expand the focus to research into the attitudes and experiences of male journalists in regard to the safety of their female counterparts. He encouraged participation in a forthcoming conference “Safety of Journalists covering Conflict and Sensitive Issues”, to be held in Oslo in November to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.
Five Internet specialists provided expert comment this week on UNESCO’s project to develop indicators for the Organisation’s concept of “Internet Universality”.
The discussion took place at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communications Research, in Cartagena, Colombia this week.
The indicators project follows the decision of UNESCO’s 2015 General Conference to endorse the concept of “Internet Universality” and its four principles of Human Rights, Openness, Accessibility and Multistakeholder participation.
At a well-attended session, Robin Mansell (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK), said that the proposed indicators could be used for “emancipatory” rather than “catch-up” purposes.
Her point was taken further from the floor by Binod Agrawal (MICA, India), who emphasised that “Internet universality” should not lead to cultural and linguistic domination via the Internet.
In her remarks, Mansell also described as an upside of indicators the possibility that they could encourage investment in key issues.
The issue of investment in online local content was taken up further by Jeremy Shterns (Ryerson University, Canada). He signalled a new trend in sponsored entertainment content online, produced by local people in local languages. This suggested that there could be an indicator linked to local content and cultural diversity, he said.
Claudia Padovani (Padova University, Italy) proposed that gender be mainstreamed through the indicators and not reduced to the principle of accessibility. It was not enough to look at the inclusion of women in Internet issues, she said, but rather at transformation as covered in UNESCO’s Gender Sensitive Indicators for Media.
In the face of “ubiquitous digital tracking”, the proposed Internet indicators should include attention to national conditions for encryption and anonymity, said Arne Hintz (Cardiff University, UK). Also important, he added, would be an indicator to assess the availability of online services that do not track.
Gabriel Kaplun (Universidad de la Republica, Ecuador) said that indicators were about “what we decide for the future”, and that research using them for country assessments needed to be reliable and legitimate.
Based on his experience in Uruguay of using UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators, Kaplun signalled the need for an expert and co-ordinated research team to tackle problems of complexity, as well as the difficulty of the research being overtaken by legislative developments.
* The IAMCR conference was also the occasion for the academic launch of the recent UNESCO publication in the Internet Freedom Series, titled “Protecting journalism sources in the digital age”
A panel of eight academics commended UNESCO for recent research into key challenges facing freedom of expression, in a session at the 2017 conference of the International Association for Media and Communications Research, in Cartagena, Colombia this week.
The panel was headlined: “Media and social media meet the issues of terrorism and violent extremism”.
Divina Frau-Meigs of University of Sorbonne, France, previewed findings of soon-to-be published research commissioned by UNESCO, titled “Social media and the radicalization of youth leading to violent extremism”.
Responding, Robin Mansell (London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) said a new paradigm was needed to show that direct causality was hard to find, and yet policy makers needed “something to use”.
Kate Coyer (Central European University, Hungary) commented that a human-rights centred approach was needed. She signalled that the role of social media in regard to radicalization for violent extremism would vary depending on the press freedom situation in different countries.
Discussing the UNESCO publication “Countering Hate Speech Online”, Silvio Waisbord (George Washington University, USA) noted that the study responded to the mainstreaming of hate speech in recent times which was “poisoning the well of civic discourse”. He called for recognition of the difference between individual expressions of hatred and those by organised groups and elites.
Gholam Khiabani (University of London, UK) cautioned that hate speech should be treated as a social issue linked to state policies about inequality and discrimination, and not as a purely individual or online phenomenon. He signalled the complexity of boundaries between critical speech and hate speech, and proposed Media and Information Literacy (MIL) for states around this issue.
While social media is a key site for hate speech, many news media are also culpable such as in tabloid discourse around immigration, said Khiabani.
Manisha Pathak-Shelat (MICA, India) praised the publication “Media and Information Literacy: reinforcing human rights, countering radicalization and extremism” for including contributions from the global South. She advised that mapping who is influential and who is vulnerable on social media is essential for the design of MIL interventions.
Abiodun Salawu (North West University, South Africa) said this publication dealt with the emotive issues of division and identity, and showed well that audiences needed to be educated.
Also discussed on the IAMCR panel was the book “Terrorism and the Media: a handbook for journalists”.
Megan Knight, (University of Hertfordshire, UK) said the book provided journalists with tools and arguments to do professional coverage of terror attacks. She cautioned against overestimating the extent to which journalists are able to act independently of commercial and political pressures at such times.
Taking a longstanding collaboration to a new level, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova signed a partnership agreement with the Lebanon-based Makhzoumi Foundation on 19 July 2017 that will encompass projects on civic engagement, cultural sustainability, climate change education and the prevention of violent extremism.
Affirming that “partnership is the new leadership” required to face the complexity of present-day challenges, Irina Bokova praised the Makhzoumi Foundation, founded 20 years ago in the aftermath of Lebanon’s civil war, for its work to overcome divides, provide youth with opportunities and promote tolerance. The Foundation is active throughout Lebanon in the areas of education and professional training, health care, sustainable development and humanitarian aid. Today, she said, new circumstances in the context of the humanitarian crisis and the rise of violent extremism make these initiatives all the more important. “You are working in a very diversified manner in a region under enormous pressure,” she said, noting that “the scope of the Foundation’s interventions is the best response to violent extremism, one of the greatest dangers we face today, one that knows no borders.” She recalled that Ms Makzhoumi had received an award in New York in 2016 for the Foundation’s humanitarian initiatives, in the context of the global campaign against violent extremism.
Ms May Makhzoumi, President of the Foundation, emphasized the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 17 on partnerships, agreeing that “without this, we cannot move forward.” She expressed appreciation for UNESCO’s global role in tackling wide-ranging issues, in particular to protect cultural heritage under attack. A member of the jury of the UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development, she drew special attention to initiatives in Lebanon to integrate environmental education and knowledge about alternative energies into curricula, carried out in collaboration with the UNESCO Regional Bureau in Beirut.
The Makhzoumi Foundation has been working with UNESCO’s Regional Bureau on projects relating to Education for Sustainable Development, the preservation of cultural heritage, volunteering and training for refugees and hosting communities. Earlier this month, UNESCO and the Foundation collaborated on a regional training workshop for youth volunteerism in the Arab Region, focusing on civic protection and cultural heritage to build social cohesion, historical awareness and a sense of shared belonging.
UNESCO and the Foundation will now take forward the partnership agreement through the development of specific projects.
More than 50 sport ministers and senior officials representing 115 countries agreed on actions to provide universal access to sports and physical activity to women and men of all ages during the Sixth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport, MINEPS VI (Kazan, Russian Federation, 13 to 15 July).
Over 500 participants at MINEPS VI determined that the time for action had come as they adopted the Kazan Action Plan, which tackles three priorities: universal access, maximizing the contribution of sport to sustainable development and peace, and protecting the integrity of sport (emphasizing safety of practitioners and governance of sports organizations and competitions).
During MINEPS VI the representatives of China, France, Japan and the Russian Federation made a public pledge to support the international implementation of the action plan.
“Over the past two days we have, I believe, achieved a true breakthrough in international sport policy development," said Nada Al-Nashif, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences in her closing remarks at the conference. "Such consensus concerning the comprehensive Kazan Action Plan is a strong message to government decision-makers that we must celebrate.”
As countries work to achieve the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals, the Kazan Action Plan, reaffirms the need to align sport policy development with the overarching framework of the SDGs.
The Macau Ethics Teachers Training Course (ETTC) organized by the UNESCO Office in Beijing and hosted by the Kiang Wu Nursing College was opened in Macau, China, on 18 July 2017, with some 20 participants from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
Speaking on behalf of the Kiang Wu Nursing College, Lau Veng Seng, Chairperson of Board of Directors, noted that this is the first time that such a training course has been organized in Macau. He noted that although Macau was a small community, it is fast growing and so the ETTC is being held at a very timely juncture.
In her opening remarks, Eunice Smith, UNESCO Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, welcomed the facilitators and participants, and thanked the Kiang Wu Nursing College for hosting the ETTC. She explained UNESCO’s leading role in bioethics in the United Nations system, and introduced the International Bioethics Committee and the Intergovernmental Bioethics Committee, as well as the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights and other legal instruments available to help Member States navigate the area of bioethics.
The ETTC is designed as a master class for confirmed and future teachers to enhance their teaching abilities within the field of ethics and bioethics. The Macau ETTC was facilitated by Professors Leonardo DeCastro from the Philippines; Alice Tsang of Macau; and Pascale Rangoni from France.
Guest speaker, Dr. Ma, Director of Kiang Wu Hospital of Macau engaged with participants on Day One in a discussion on some of the ethical challenges and dilemmas faced in health care in Asia. It focused primarily on providing participants with pedagogical skills for teaching and cases in Bioethics and the Ethics of Science and Technology. Participants were given an opportunity to share their own teaching techniques with the group and the facilitators.
The Macau ETTC is the third such training organized by UNESCO in China to help reinforce teaching capacities. The first ETTC in China was held in Shenzhen in October 2015, and a second was organized in Beijing in November 2016.