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
‘Education sector responses to the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs’ is the new booklet in the UNESCO series ‘Good Policy and Practice in Health Education’. It was presented last week during the 60th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) that took place in Vienna, Austria.
UNESCO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released last week the joint publication on Substance Use, Good Policy and Practice in Health Education: Education sector responses to the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
Christophe Cornu, Senior Programme Specialist and Team Leader in the Section of Health and Education at UNESCO, presented the new joint publication during a side event on “Schools as valuable social institutions for prevention and to build socio-emotional skills”.
Why the Education Sector should respond to Substance Use among children and young people
Use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs commonly begins in adolescence. It is associated with a wide range of negative impacts on young people’s mental and physical health as well as on their wellbeing over the short and long term. Linked with a number of negative education-related consequences, including poor school engagement and performance, and school dropout, it has a negative impact on education sector efforts to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all and accomplish the new global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The education sector has therefore a fundamental responsibility to prevent and address substance use among children and young people.
“The value added of this new resource is that, for the very first time, a publication considers all components of a comprehensive education sector response to substance use, moving away from a focus on school-based interventions only.”
Key principles for education sector responses to substance use
Examples of good practice from various countries shared during the side event highlighted some of the key principles of effective substance use prevention education, also described in detail in the joint UNESCO-UNODC-WHO publication.
A key joint publication is the fruit of an extensive international consultation
The booklet is the result of an international consultation process involving extensive literature reviews and an international experts meeting.
Provides the context, rationale and a comprehensive conceptual framework for improved education sector responses to substance use;
Presents evidence-based and promising policies and practice, including practical examples from different regions that have been shown to be effective by scientific research;
Suggests issues to consider in scaling up and sustaining effective education sector approaches and programmes in responding to substance use.
Lors de la onzième Triennale de l’Association pour le Développement de l’Education en Afrique (ADEA) qui s’est tenue du 15 au 17 mars 2017 à Diamniadio, Sénégal, le ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche du Sénégal et le Bureau régional de l’UNESCO à Dakar ont signé le plan d’opération d’un projet d’appui à l’enseignement supérieur, notamment à l’Université Cheikh Anta Diop.
La Triennale est un événement phare de l’ADEA qui a regroupé les gouvernements, les partenaires techniques et financiers, les organisations de la Société Civile, le secteur privé afin de pouvoir échanger sur la revitalisation de l’éducation dans la perspective des Objectifs de Développement Durable 2030 et de l’agenda de l’Union Africaine 2063. Les deux principales recommandations fortes issues des trois jours de travaux sont la création d’un fonds africain pour l’éducation et la formation, d’une part, et, d’autre part, la transformation des systèmes éducatifs afin d’aider à la renaissance culturelle et au développement durable des pays africains.
En marge de cette triennale, le ministre de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche du Sénégal et le Directeur a.i. du Bureau régional de l’’UNESCO à Dakar ont signé le protocole d’accord sur l’opérationnalisation du projet d’appui à l’enseignement supérieur sur la valorisation du patrimoine culturel et de l’éducation à la citoyenneté au Sénégal. Sur financement du gouvernement de l’Italie à hauteur de 500.000 EUR, ce projet vise à soutenir l’amélioration de la qualité des formations aux métiers du patrimoine, à renforcer les activités de formation de citoyens sénégalais, dans un esprit de paix et de justice, à renforcer les capacités et pratiques pédagogiques des enseignants-chercheurs et à renforcer l’apprentissage de la langue italienne à l’Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar. L’UNESCO appuiera le ministère dans l’exécution des activités en fournissant ses experts et en contribuant à la visibilité.
Launch of the United Nations World Wa ter Development Report
Durban, South Africa, 22 March – What if we were to consider the vast quantities of domestic, agricultural and industrial wastewater discharged into the environment everyday as a valuable resource rather than costly problem? This is the paradigm shift advocated in the United Nations World Water Development Report, Wastewater: the Untapped Resource , launched today in Durban on the occasion of World Water Day.
The United Nations World Water Development Report is a UN-Water Report coordinated by the UN World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO. It argues that once treated, wastewater could prove invaluable in meeting the growing demand for freshwater and other raw materials. “Wastewater is a valuable resource in a world where water is finite and demand is growing,” says Guy Ryder, Chair of UN-Water and Director-General of the International Labour Organization. “Everyone can do their bit to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater a nd increase safe water reuse by 2030. It's all about carefully managing and recycling the water that runs through our homes, factories, farms and cities. Let's all reduce and safely reuse more wastewater so that this precious resource serves the needs of increasing populations and a fragile ecosystem.”
“The 2017 World Water Development Report shows that improved wastewater management is as much about reducing pollution at the source, as removing contaminants from wastewater flows, reusing reclaimed water and recovering useful by-products. [...] Raising social acceptance of the use of wastewater is essential to moving forward”, argues UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her foreword to the Report.
A health and environmental concern
A large proportion of wastewater is still released into the environment without being either collected or treated. This is particular ly true in low-income countries, which on average only treat 8 % of domestic and industrial wastewater, compared to 70% in high-income countries. As a result, in many regions of the wo rld, water contaminated by bacteria, nitrates, phosphates and solvents is discharged into rivers and lakes ending up in the oceans, with negative consequences for the environment and public health.
The volume of wastewater to be treated will rise considerably in the near future especially in cities in developing countries with rapidly growing populations. “Wastewater generation is one of the biggest challenges associ ated with the growth of informal settlements (slums) in the developing world, ” say the repo rt’s authors. A city like Lagos (Nigeria) generates 1.5 million m3 of wastewater every day, most of which ends up untreated in the Lagos Lagoon. Unless action is taken now, this situation is likely to deteriorate further as the city’s population rises to over 23 million by 2020.
Pollution from pathogens from human and animal excreta affects almost one third of rivers in Latin America, Asia and Africa, endangering the lives of millions of people. In 2012, 842,000 deaths in low- and middle-income countries were linked to contaminated water and inadequate sanitation services. The lack of treatment also contributes to the spread of some tropical diseases such as dengue and cholera.
Solvents and hydrocarbons produced by industrial and mining activities, as well as the discharge of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus a nd potassium) from intens ive farming accelerate the eutrophication of freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems. An estimated 245,000 km2 of marine ecosystems—roughly the size of the United Kingdom—are currently affected by this phenomenon. The discharge of untreated wastewater also stimulates the proliferation of toxic algae blooms and contributes to the decline in biodiversity.
Growing awareness of the presence of pollutants such as hormones, antibiotics, steroids and endocrine disruptors in wastewater poses a new set of challenges as their impact on the environment and health have yet to be fully understood.
Pollution reduces the availability of freshwater supplies, which are already under stress not least because of climate change. Nevertheless, most governments and decision-makers have been primarily concerned by the challenges of water supply, notably when it is scarce, while overlooking the need to manage water after it has been used. Yet these two issues are intrinsically related. The collection, treatment and safe use of wastewater are at the very foundation of a circular economy, balancing economic development with the sustainable use of resources. Reclaimed water is a largely underexploited resource, which can be reused many times.
From sewer to tap
Wastewater is most commonly used for agricultural irrigation and at least 50 countries worldwide are known to use wastewater for this purpose, accounting for an estimated 10 % of all irrigated land. However, data remains incomplete for many regions, notably Africa.
But this practice raises health concerns when the water contains pathogens that can contaminate crops. The challenge, then, is to move from informal irrigation towards planned and safe use, as Jordan, where 90% of treated wastewater is used for irrigation, has been doing since 1977. In Israel, treated wastewater already accounts for nearly half of all water used for irrigation.
In industry, large quantities of water can be reused, for example for heating and cooling, instead of being discharged into the environment. By 2020, the market for industrial wastewater treatment is expected to increase by 50 %.
Treated wastewater can also serve to augm ent drinking water supplies, although this is still a marginal practice. Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, has been doing this since 1969. To counter recurrent freshwater shortages, the city has installed infrastructure to treat up to 35% of wastewater, which is then used to supplement drinking water reserves. Residents of Singapore and San Diego (USA) also safely drink water that has been recycled.
This practice can meet with resistance from the public, who may be uncomfortable with the idea of drinking or using water they consider to have once been dirty. Lack of public support led to the failure of a project to reuse water for irrigation and fish farming in Egypt in the 1990s. Awareness-raising campaigns can help gain public acceptance for this type of practice by referring to successful examples, such as that of the astronauts on the International Space Station who have been reusing the same recycled water for over 16 years.
Wastewater and sludge as a source of raw materials
As well as providing a safe alternative source for freshwater, wastewater can also be seen as a potential source of raw materials. Thanks to developments in treatment techniques, certain nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrates , can now be recovered from sewage and sludge and turned into fertilizer. An estimated 22% of global demand for phosphorus, a finite and depleting mineral resource, could be met by treating human urine and excrement. Some countries, like Switzerland, have already passed legislation calling for the mandatory recovery of certain nutrients such as phosphorus.
The organic substances contained in wastew ater could be used to produce biogas, which could help power wastewater treatment facilities, helping them transition from major consumers to becoming energy neutral or even net energy producers. In Japan, the government has set itself the target of recovering 30% of the biomass energy in wastewater by 2020. Every year, the city of Osaka produces 6,500 tonnes of biosolid fuels from 43,000 tonnes of sewage sludge.
Such technologies need not be out of reach for developing countries as low-cost treatment solutions already allow for the extracti on of energy and nutrients. They may not yet allow for the direct recovery of potable water, but they can produce viable and safe water for other uses, such as irrigation. And sales of ra w materials derived from wastewater can provide additional revenue to help cover the investment and operational costs of wastewater treatment.
Today, 2.4 billion people still do not have access to improved sanitation facilities. Reducing this figure, in keeping with Sustainable Development Goal 6 on water and sanitation of the UN 2030 Agenda, will mean discharging even more wastewater, which will then need to be treated affordably.
Some progress has already been made. In Latin America, for example, the treatment of wastewater has almost doubled since the late 1990s and covers between 20% and 30% of wastewater collected in urban sewer networks. But that also means that between 70% and 80% is released without treatment, so there is still a long way to go. An essential step on that road will have been taken with the widespread re cognition of the value of safely using treated wastewater and its valuable by-products as an alternative to raw freshwater.
Note to the editors
The United Nations World Water Development Report is a UN-Water Report produced by the UN World Water Assessment Programme of UNESCO. The Report is the result of the collaboration between the 31 entities of the United Nations System and the 38 international partners that comprise UN-Water. The Report presents an exhaustive review of the state of global water resources and, up until 2012, was published every three years. Since 2014, the WWDR is published annually, with each edition focused on a given theme. It is launched every year on World Water Day, 22 March, which shares the same theme as the report.
The 2017 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards in the physical sciences will receive their awards at a ceremony in Paris on 23 March 2017.
Proposed by an international community of more than 2,000 leading scientists, the five laureates were selected by an independent international jury of 12 renowned scientists presided this year by Professor Christian Amatore, of the French Académie des sciences. Each laureate will receive a prize of €100,000 to reward for their contribution to science.
The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science 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) in recognition of their scientific accomplishments. Each scientist has had a unique career path combining exceptional talent, a deep commitment to her profession and remarkable courage in a field still largely dominated by men.
Together with the 15 Internatioanl Rising Talents recognized in 2017 by the L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme, they are participating in a week of events, training and exchanges that will culminate with the award ceremony on 23 March 2017 at the Mutualité in Paris.Laureates Africa and the Arab States
Professor Niveen KHASHAB
Associate Professor of Chemical Sciences and Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia
“For her contributions to innovative smart hybrid materials aimed at drug delivery and for developing new techniques to monitor intracellular antioxidant activity.”
Professor Michelle SIMMONS
Professor, Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology - University of New South Wales, Australia
“For her pioneering contributions to quantum and atomic electronics, constructing atomic transistors en route to quantum computers.”
Professor Nicola SPALDIN
Professor and Chair of Materials Theory, ETH Zürich, Switzerland
Solid state physics
“For her groundbreaking multidisciplinary work predicting, describing and creating new materials that have switchable magnetic and ferroelectric properties.”
Professor Maria Teresa RUIZ
Professor, Department of Astronomy, Dept. / Universidad de Chile, Chile
“For her discovery of the first brown dwarf and her seminal work on understanding the faintest stars, including stars at the final stages of their evolution (white dwarfs).”
Professor Zhenan BAO
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, USA
“For her outstanding contribution to and mastery of the development of novel functional polymers for consumer electronics, energy storage and biomedical applications.”
+33 (0)1 47 56 77 47
About the L’Oréal Foundation
Accompany. Value. Communicate. Support. Move boundaries. The convictions, the core values which drive the L’Oréal Foundation’s commitment to women everyday. A commitment divided into two main areas - science and beauty.
Through its’ For Women in Science programme, a worldwide partnership with UNESCO, the L’Oréal Foundation motivates girls in High School to pursue scientific careers, supports women researchers and rewards excellence in a field where women remain underrepresented.
Through its beauty programmes, the Foundation assists women affected by illness, who are economically disadvantaged or isolated, to recover their sense of self-esteem and femininity in order to feel better and to fare better. Its’ actions also include providing training programs for beauty industry professions.
Since its’ creation in 1945, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization has been supporting international scientific cooperation as a catalyst for sustainable development and peace. UNESCO assists countries in the development of public policies and in building capabilities in the fields of science, technology, innovation and scientific education. In addition, UNESCO leads several intergovernmental programmes for the sustainable management of freshwater, ocean and terrestrial resources, the protection of biodiversity and the promotion of the role of science in combating climate change and handling natural disasters. To meet these goals, UNESCO is committed to ending discrimination and promoting equality between women and men.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the killing of journalist Ricardo Monlui Cabrera in the eastern state of Veracruz in Mexico on 19 March 2017.
“I condemn the killing of Ricardo Monlui Cabrera,” said the Director-General. “This violent crime not only took a life -- it also affects every single member of society as it attacked the fundamental right to freedom of expression. I welcome the initiative taken by the local authorities to ensure that the perpetrators will be brought to trial.”
A journalist for more than 30 years, Monlui was the Director of the daily newspaper El Político as well as a columnist for the dailies El Sol de Córdoba and the Diario de Xalapa. He was shot by unknown assailants in the municipality of Yanga.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, email@example.com, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
“Building a more just, more peaceful, more sustainable future for all must start on the benches of school,” said the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, in her keynote address on 21 March, during an event on the role of “Education for preventing violent extremism” held at the European Parliament, organized in partnership with UNESCO.
This was held on the eve of the first anniversary of devastating terrorist attacks in 2016 against Brussels.
The event took place in the presence of Mr Pavel Telicka, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and was led by Mr Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Member of the European Parliament, as well as Members of the European Parliament.
On this occasion, the Director-General called for new forms of education and for new approaches to education.
“We need education of quality that reaches every girl and boy, education that promotes dialogue and understanding between cultures,” she said. “Education today must be about learning to live in a world under pressure, it must be about new forms of cultural literacy.”
This was echoed by Pavel Telicka, who said young people "are not born as terrorists," and Ilhan Kyuchyuk, who underlined the vital importance of education, skills and opportunities for employment, "to empower young people while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms."
Irina Bokova said “we must act early, not just to counter violent extremism, but to prevent its rise,” underlining that education as the most powerful way to build peace, to disarm processes that can lead to violent extremism.
“We need to build the defences of peace in the minds of women and men, starting with education,” declared the Director-General highlighting the importance of ‘soft power’ to counter a threat that draws on an exclusive vision of the world, based on false interpretations of faith, hatred and intolerance.
The event featured a Panel Discussion that explored “How to prevent violent extremism and radicalisation through education”.
Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative to the European Institutions, moderated the panel that included Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair Child and Family Research Centre, Hans Bonte, Federal Representative for the constituency of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde and Mayor, and Sara Zeiger, Senior Research Analyst, Hedayah.
Professor Pat Dolan stressed the vital importance of nurturing empathy in young people, to build engagement and advance empowerment while deepening solidarity. "For all this, education is key."
Mayor and MP Hans Bonte shared the experience of the city of Vilvoorde in preventing and countering radicalisation leading to violent extremism -- the city having seen a steep challenge of radicalised young people travelling to Syria.
"Young people face enormous stress today," he said. "This is something we must face in discussing what education we need and the shape of educational systems, to support young people, keep them in learning. We have to work on all sides, with youth and on schools -- this is where we will win or lose."
He underlined the need for bridge-building at the local level to deepen the sense of belonging and solidarity for young people of all backgrounds.
Sara Zeiger, of Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, spoke of the need for comprehensive approaches to education for maximal impact, tailored to specific contexts. She shared good practices from two cases in Pakistan and in Nigeria, to foster critical thinking and resilience building as well as employment skills, in young women and men.
Discussion followed on the importance of strengthening media literacy with young people as well as deepening dialogue with religious representatives -- including to counter hate speech on the Internet, while respecting human rights. The vital role of supporting teachers was underlined in all this.
"We must provide young people with a renewed sense of belonging, with new skills, and new confidence in the future -- and this must start on the benches of schools," concluded Irina Bokova.
This year’s Mobile Learning Week, UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education conference currently taking place in Paris, is focused on ‘Education in emergencies and crises’.
Organized in partnership with UNHCR and ITU, Mobile Learning Week examines how new and affordable technologies can reinforce education in emergency and crisis contexts, and expand learning opportunities and inclusion for displaced people.
The UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World is participating at the conference. The initiative seeks to determine how digital solutions, outside of the traditional education lens, can better include low-skilled and low-literate youth and adults into the digital economy and knowledge society in order to help close the global literacy gap by 2030.
Senior Project Officer for the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy, Steven Vosloo, will co-present initial findings from an upcoming trends analysis, which includes a special focus on e-services and inclusive digital solutions for low-literate and low-skilled migrants and refugees.
“There are many e-services for the refugee lifecycle today: from pre-departure and transit, to settling in and long-term integration,” he says. “But without being usable by low-skilled and low-literate users, these groups are denied the related benefits.”
While digital services become increasingly important for migrant and refugee support, the trends analysis has found there are insufficient services targeted at low-skilled and low-literate users.
Low literacy levels are the second-biggest barrier to connectivity for refugees
Some of the opportunities that inclusive digital solutions can bring to migrants and refugees are vital communication and information sharing, access to learning, making payments and receiving financial support, and getting health information and psychosocial support. However, the lack of literacy skills constrains refugee communities. Along with cost, low literacy levels comprise the second-biggest barrier to connectivity for refugees (UNHCR, 2016).
Today, approximately 758 million adults, including 115 million youth worldwide, cannot read or write (UIS, 2015) which results in a severe lack of skills needed to benefit from digital technologies. The collaboration between UNESCO and Pearson is part of the Project Literacy movement.
"Literacy is a critical pathway for making progress on development more broadly,” says Jennifer Young, director of social impact programs at Pearson. “Through this partnership with UNESCO, we are looking to other sectors for promising and proven solutions – whether they’re in agriculture, health, energy and the environment or government services – so we can generate new ways of thinking about the challenge of closing the global literacy gap."
Project Literacy brings together a diverse and global cross-section of people and organizations to help unlock the potential of individuals, families and communities everywhere with the vision that by 2030, no child will be born at risk of poor literacy.
Learn more about the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World and Mobile Learning Week.
Mobile Learning Week, UNESCO’s yearly flagship ICT in education conference, opened on Monday 20 March 2017 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Focusing on ‘Education in emergencies and crises’, this year’s event is organized in partnership with UNHCR and examines how new and affordable technologies can provide learning opportunities for displaced people around the world.
The sixth edition of Mobile Learning Week was opened by UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Qian Tang and UNHCR Representative in France Ralf Gruenert. Keynote addresses were delivered by H.E. Zhanyuan Du, Vice Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China, and H.E. Laila Bokhari, State Secretary of Norway.
“We are witnessing the highest levels of displacement ever recorded,” said Mr Tang. “Education is uniquely important in emergency and crisis settings.”
Mobile Learning Week 2017 is designed to help global knowledge sharing and develop solutions that can be scaled to strengthen inclusion in education and keep the cycle of learning in emergencies. It will look specifically at how innovative mobile learning can effectively support learners, teachers and systems.
The five-day event will feature a symposium with 76 breakout sessions, exhibitions, and a mix of panel discussions and plenary addresses. It will highlight solutions that leverage technology to reach displaced learners, protect and maintain education in emergency settings and facilitate integration efforts.
“Our overall aim is that all refugees and the communities that host them have access to accredited, quality and relevant educational opportunities which are facilitated, supported or enhanced through mobile learning,” said Mr Gruenert. “These new learning environments will prepare refugees and displaced communities to fully engage in the economic, social and cultural world of tomorrow."
Solutions to reach displaced people where they are
The United Nations estimates that in 2015, 24 people were forced to flee their homes each minute - 4 times more than a decade ago. One in every 113 people globally has been displaced due to conflict or persecution and over half of the world’s refugees are children, many separated from their parents or traveling alone.
“It is our task to help find solutions to leverage this technology to reach people where they are, opening portals to learning and empowerment,” said Mr Tang. “This is what Mobile Learning Week is about: helping our Member States and other partners understand how to harness technology to strengthen education and promote lifelong learning, particularly for the most vulnerable.”
Mobile Learning Week will include workshops highlighting innovative mobile learning content, technology, research and projects. Strategy Labs designed to help guide the conceptualization and refinement of projects will be hosted jointly with partner organizations. A Policy Forum held in collaboration with UNHCR and ITU will bring together ministers of education, ministers of ICT and leaders from private sector companies to examine how governments can foster innovation in the education sector and facilitate the acquisition of e-skills, particularly for disadvantaged or displaced learners.
On 20 March, UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, met with the Executive Vice President of B'nai B'rith International, Mr Daniel S. Mariaschin, accompanied by several senior members of this organization, at UNESCO Headquarters.
This meeting was an opportunity to highlight the longstanding cooperation between UNESCO and B'nai B'rith International, marked by significant joint initiatives such as the symposiums “Permanence of Yiddish” and “Judeo-Spanish Heritage trail and in the Mediterranean” co-organized by B'nai B'rith and UNESCO at UNESCO Headquarters in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Mr Mariaschin praised UNESCO for successfully developing its Programme on Education about the Holocaust and expressed his strong wish that the Programme be further strengthened in the years to come stressing the importance of the Organization’s leadership role in the field of education. The Organization stands as the sole UN agency with a mandate to promote Holocaust education worldwide for the prevention of genocide, promoting respect for human rights, through policies and initiatives at a global level, in order to make young people, whatever their origin and culture, become more aware of the mechanisms that can lead societies to scale up hatred and mass violence, and how to prevent these phenomena.
The Director-General expressed her gratitude to B'nai B'rith for its continuing support of UNESCO on matters of common interest, including fostering intercultural dialogue, combating anti-Semitism, youth radicalization and violent extremism, as well as all forms of discrimination and intolerance.
Ms Bokova and Mr Mariaschin pledged to continue with the constructive engagement and cooperation in these areas.
On 20 March 2017, Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, participated in the Donors' Conference on the occasion of the launch of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas. The Conference was held at the Paris Louvre Museum in the Khorsabad courtyard, in the presence of the President of the French Republic, Mr. François Hollande, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates, HE Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Director-General welcomed the profound commitment of France and President Hollande to defending heritage and placing culture at the heart of the International Political Agenda.
"You have been among those who have put the greatest emphasis on heritage and the strategic need to protect it in order to respond to modern conflicts," she recalled, highlighting the joint mission to Timbuktu in 2013 following the liberation of the city and which kicked off UNESCO mausoleum reconstruction campaign.
The Director-General reviewed the wide range of measures taken by UNESCO in recent years, including the adoption of a comprehensive strategy and the creation of an emergency fund for the protection of heritage.
“UNESCO will continue to play its full part in coordinating international initiatives in this field," she concluded.
"The protection of heritage is inseparable from the protection of human life," declared President François Hollande, announcing the project of a framework resolution at the United Nations Security Council on the protection of cultural heritage.
"Those who destroy heritage are well aware of its power to unite communities, and they intentionally target culture, schools and libraries to enslave and accelerate the disintegration of societies. I have called this a strategy of cultural cleansing. This is a war crime and it has become a tactic of war," added the Director-General.
The creation of a new international fund, announced at the Abu Dhabi Conference in December 2016, reinforces existing tools - including UNESCO's emergency fund established in 2015 - and gives a new impetus to international cooperation for the protection of heritage.
The Fund, whose statutes are deposited in Geneva, aims to raise $ 100 million by 2019. Seven countries, including France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Morocco and Switzerland pledged some $ 75 million on Monday. Several other states have promised to make a contribution also, including in the form of expertise and political support, including notably Italy, Great Britain, Germany, China, the Republic of Korea and Mexico.
"Three-quarters of the target has already been reached," concluded Jack Lang, President of the Arab World Institute, and organizer of the conference, alongside Mohamed Al Mubarak, special representative of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
On 21 March, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is in Brussels to give a keynote speech during an event on the role of “Education for preventing violent extremism” held at the European Parliament, and organized in partnership with UNESCO.
Mr Pavel Telicka, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Mr Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Member of the European Parliament, will open the event that will take place in the presence of Members of the European Parliament.
The Director-General will highlight the importance of ‘soft power’ and the message of the UNESCO Constitution to counter a threat that draws on an exclusive vision of the world, based on false interpretations of faith, hatred and intolerance.
The event will feature a Panel Discussion that will explore “How to prevent violent extremism and radicalisation through education”. Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative to the European Institutions will moderate the panel including Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair Child and Family Research Centre, Hans Bonte, Federal representative for the constituency of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, Sara Zeiger, Senior Research Analyst, Hedayah, and Afzal Khan, Member of the European Parliament.