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UNESCO Director-General highlights the importance of education for citizenship at the Athens Democracy Forum

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 15:19

On 15 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the Athens Democracy Forum, organized by the New York Times under the theme ℜSolwtyons for a Changing World”.

The Director-General took part in an interactive round-table discussion on “Bridging the Generational Gap”, featuring 23 students who explored ways of engaging young people with the democratic process from voting to civic engagement. Speakers included Serge Schmemann, Member of the Editorial Board of The New York Times, Kerry Kennedy, President of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and Brian Smith, President, Europe, Middle East and Africa Group of The Coca-Cola Company.

The Director-General underscored the importance of Global Citizenship Education, and UNESCO’s work in this field currently focusing on the prevention of violent extremism, awareness raising and advocacy, guidance, capacity building  and partnerships. 

In the discussion with young students, UNESCO Director-General declared "I understand the criticism from new generation towards global leaders today, and the many challenges on the table, from uncertainty to climate change. But If I were to speak in defense of what has been done by my generation, I would mention that Gender Equality, which was not on the Agenda a generation ago, is now a priority concern. The Paris Agreement and the UN sustainable development goals are also a major political achievement. There is a strong social movement and quest for dignity around the world and this needs to be sustained and supported. It starts on the bench of schools and the education we need is about skills and competences for decent jobs, but is also about values and democracy. You cannot have a democracy if you do not have informed citizens equipped with critical thinking and this is why UNESCO integrated the notion of global citizenship into the UN Education goal."

Within the framework of the Athens Democracy Forum, the Director-General also participated in an event on sustainable tourism with the Google Institute in the presence of Mr Laurent Gaveau, Head of Google Arts and Culture Lab. “Tourism has tremendous potential to contribute, to inclusive economic growth and sustainable consumption, but it is also a driver of dialogue for mutual understanding and citizenship.” said Irina Bokova, recalling that the United Nations declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

While in Athens, the Director-General visited the “Marianna V. Vardinoyannis – ELPIDA” Oncology Children's Hospital (Athens) and was honored to receive the Elpida Honorary Award, on behalf of the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer “ELPIDA”. “I am humbled to receive this award,” said the Director-General. “I take this as a recognition of the work of UNESCO and the great cooperation we have built together with Marianna Vardinoyannis", recalling the commitment of the later as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.  

Categories: News

Can Open Educational Resources help achieve the Education 2030 agenda?

Unesco Most Programme - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:07
15 September 2017

Education Ministers and other experts will meet to discuss how the potential of Open Educational Resources (OER) can be unlocked to support achievement of the Education 2030 agenda, at the 2nd World OER Congress to be held from 18-20 September 2017 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Milan Brglez, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, will welcome over 500 experts and delegates, including more than twenty Ministers of Education and Science, to explore solutions for integrating OER practices into education systems worldwide.

Participants will address challenges to mainstreaming OER, which consist of any teaching, learning and research materials that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution.

Among the key issues are how to promote multilingualism and how to ensure OER are available to people with disabilities.

This Congress builds on the 1st World OER Congress held at UNESCO Headquarters, which adopted the 2012 Paris OER Declaration encouraging the open licensing of educational materials produced with public funds. This year’s Congress also marks 15 years of growth and development in open-licensed learning and teaching resources since the term “OER” was first coined at UNESCO in 2002.

In the run-up to the 2nd World OER Congress, six regional consultations, organized by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) in partnership with UNESCO, brought together experts and policy-makers from more than 100 countries, to discuss progress in implementation of the 2012 Paris OER Declaration. * National OER Surveys also were received from some 100 countries.

The Congress is expected to conclude with the adoption of the 2017 Ljubljana OER Action Plan, reflecting the recommendations from the six regional consultations, an open online consultation of global OER stakeholders, as well as the deliberations that will take place during the Congress itself.

*These were held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (December 2016); Valletta, Malta (February 2017); Doha, Qatar (March 2017); Port Louis, Mauritius (March 2017); Sao Paulo, Brazil (April 2017); and Auckland, New Zealand (May 2017).


More about:

Open Educational Resources

2nd World Open Educational Resources (OER) Congress



Slovenia, Ministry of Education, Science and Sport:

  • Gašper Hrastelj, National Focal Point for the Organization of the 2nd World OER Congress, T.: +386 1 478 4678, Mobile: +386 41 785 468
  • Tina Hrastnik, Public Relations at Ministry Education, Science and Sport of the Republic of Slovenia  E:, T.: +386 1 400 5284, Mobile: +386 41 782 971)


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Les Organisations de la Société Civile mobilisent, pour la mise en place de la Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience, des facilitateurs au Sénégal (in French)

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 17:13
vaefacilitateurs.jpg © UNESCO

Trois jours après la célébration de la Journée internationale de l’alphabétisation, du 8 septembre 2017, une journée de mobilisation, concernant la Validation des Acquis de l’Expérience (VAE) pour les facilitateurs en alphabétisation, a été organisée par la Coordination Nationale des Opérateurs en Alphabétisation au Sénégal (CNOAS), à Dakar, en présence de près de 700 opérateurs et facilitateurs dont 80% de femmes.

Le Président de la CNOAS a remercié l’appui de l’UNESCO pour la mise en place du dispositif de VAE qui corrige aujourd’hui une doléance vieille de plusieurs années. Les acteurs de l’alphabétisation se sont toujours battus pour que l’expérience des facilitateurs soit certifiée et que leur formation initiale soit assurée par les centres régionaux de formation des personnels de l’éducation (CRFPE). Il a encouragé les opérateurs et les facilitateurs à aller s’inscrire dans les inspections d’académie et a appelé l’Etat à une revalorisation du métier de facilitateur.

Dans son allocution, le Directeur de l’UNESCO Dakar s’est pour sa part félicité de cette expérience réussie par le Sénégal qui est le premier pays, en Afrique subsaharienne, à mettre en œuvre cette initiative qui contribuera notamment à l’atteinte des ODD 4 (éducation) et 8 (emploi décent). Il a rappelé que l’UNESCO, à travers son programme CapED, continuera à accompagner le Sénégal à relever les défis auxquels il fait face, notamment dans les domaines de la qualité des enseignements-apprentissages, dans une perspective d’éducation tout au long de la vie.

Le discours de clôture a finalement été prononcé par la Directrice de l’Alphabétisation et des Langues Nationales. Elle a d’abord remercié la CNOAS d’avoir organisé cette journée de mobilisation, à l’occasion de la célébration de la semaine nationale de l’alphabétisation, qui a comme parrain cette année feu Amadou Wade Diagne qui a largement contribué à l’élaboration du manuel de VAE. Elle a rappelé l’importance, pour les facilitateurs, de la VAE qui trouve son ancrage dans le pilier 2 du Plan Sénégal Emergent « Développement du Capital Humain ». Elle a également remercié l’UNESCO de son appui constant dans la professionnalisation du personnel de l’alphabétisation et a elle aussi exhorté les facilitateurs à se rendre dans les Inspections de l’Education et de la Formation pour s’informer davantage sur la procédure et commencer à constituer leurs dossiers de candidature.

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UNESCO organized three workshops to present the results of studies on the response of education systems to school-related gender based violence (SRGBV) in Cameroon, Togo and Senegal

Unesco Most Programme - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 12:20
vgmsimage.jpg © UNESCO

SRGBV is a phenomenon that affects millions of children, families and communities in West and Central Africa, as in all countries of the world. It refers to acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence perpetrated in schools and their environment, resulting from gender norms and stereotypes and imposed by unequal power relations.

The effects of SRGVB on youth, including children, are considerable. Beyond the suffering and health consequences, violence has negative repercussions on school performance and long-term educational outcomes. The workshop participants in Senegal pointed out that “SRGBV constitute an obstacle to education and reduce the return on national investment in education. The education sector has a role to play in responding to school-related gender-based violence. It is up to the sector to fulfil this role and take action accordingly.”

Response to SRGBV involves actions at different levels, including curricula, teacher training, sectoral policies and regulatory provisions. In order to evaluate the responses, UNESCO has developed an analysis and imaging tool that has been used by the Institute for Demographic Training and Research (IFORD). The sharing of results across the three countries has provided valuable information to complement the diagnoses. In particular, IFORD now has a more comprehensive list of national documents on the four components, and can identify good practices to be shared among the three countries. Building on these elements, workshop participants were able to decide together on next steps to strengthen education responses to SRGBV. In particular, UNESCO will support ministries in the development of harmonized teacher training modules, and propose concrete solutions to strengthen sectoral policies, regulation, and classroom teacher practice.

The three workshops, organized with the support of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France (MEAE), in collaboration with UNESCO's Multisectoral Regional Offices for West Africa (Sahel) and Central Africa (ECCAS), the ministries in charge of education of each country and the Cameroonian and Togolese National Commissions for UNESCO, took place on 23-24 August (Togo), 29-30 August (Cameroon) et 5-6 September (Senegal).

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UNESCO Director-General calls for stronger cooperation for heritage protection at the Blue Shield International General Assembly

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 21:38
dg-blue-shield-infocus.jpg © UNESCO

On 13 September 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova addressed the opening session of the Blue Shield International General Assembly, held in Vienna, Austria, in the presence of the Vice-Mayor of Vienna, Johann Gudenus and the Interim President of the Blue Shield International, Mr Karl von Habsburg-Lothringen.

“UNESCO and Blue Shield International share a common goal,” declared the Director-General addressing the Public Plenary Session.

“We seek to protect cultural property, and, by extension, humanity’s cultural legacy,” she continued underscoring that this is more than a cultural issue, “This is about renewing the basic tools for peace building and security.” 

The Director-General took stock of all the progress made since UNESCO’s 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict ratified by 128 States Parties, including by the United Kingdom most recently.

“This is true testament to a new global recognition of the role of cultural heritage in modern conflict, and our role is to transform this new consciousness into effective networks, law enforcement tools and concrete protection measures,” said Irina Bokova, recalling recent programmes led by UNESCO to train military officials, police forces and customs professionals in this area.

During the Ceremony, Colonel Keba Sangare (Mali) and Major Corine Wegener (USA) received the Blue Shield International award for their outstanding commitment to the protection of heritage. President Karl von Habsburg described notably how during the battle for Timbuktu in 2015, Colonel Keba Sangare decided not to call the air force and pursue the battle on the ground to defeat  violent extremist so as not to inflict severe damage upon the great most of the City. "This is forbidden by international law," he said at the time. "The 1954 Convention is not only international law, it is part of humanitarian law and of law of war," said the President of Blue Shield, and to defeat violent extremism, we need to do so through the means of international law.

“We have come a long way since 1954, and yet, now more than ever, we need to strive for peace,” said Irina Bokova, calling for stronger coordination amongst all actors, and for deeper cooperation between the military, the judicial, humanitarian and cultural experts. 

Addressing the recent listing of the historic center of Vienna on the World Heritage list in danger, the Director-General recalled the importance of the City as "the heart of European spirit and culture", and expressed UNESCO's readiness to work with Austria to implement the recommendation of the World Heritage Committee, to ensure the heritage of the city is transmitted to future generations. 

Categories: News

Biosphere reserves promote sustainable development in Sub-Saharan African countries

Unesco Most Programme - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 20:16
focus_afrimab_5thga_2017_nigeria.jpg © UNESCO 13 September 2017

Government representatives, biosphere reserve managers and experts came together in Ibadan, Nigeria, to share the results of innovative projects in African biosphere reserves and expand regional cooperation. They gathered for the 5th General Assembly of the AfriMAB network, which includes 75 biosphere reserves in 28 countries and promotes efforts for better conservation and sustainable management of the ecological and socio cultural heritage in African biosphere reserves. The approach combines the conservation of biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources, to empower people to improve their livelihoods sustainably.

The principles of participation, solidarity and dialogue are the cornerstones of the democratic governance of biosphere reserves”, reminded UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for the Natural Sciences, Flavia Schlegel, in her keynote presentation. “The concerted management of resources within biosphere reserves promotes dialogue between actors and thus helps to reconcile sometimes divergent interests and thus to establish a sustainable peace. As model regions for sustainable development, biosphere reserves provide local solutions to the global challenges of sustainable development, including climate change.”

The participants will share lessons learned through case studies and projects across Africa, notably the Green Economy in Biosphere Reserve project that aims to conserve biodiversity by reducing the immediate adverse effects of local reliance on forest products (such as fuel wood), reduce poverty by diversifying the economy, and promote sustainable development by building the capacity of the communities in a holistic manner to ensure sustainable biodiversity businesses. It was implemented in three sub-Saharan biosphere reserves with similar ecosystem types: tropical humid forests in Bia (Ghana) and Omo (Nigeria), and tropical submontane and evergreen forests in the East Usambara (Tanzania). Participants will visit the Omo biosphere reserve to familiarize themselves with four green economy initiatives first hand.

The meeting provides an opportunity to present a new project aiming to promote peace in the Lake Chad basin through the sustainable management of its resources. Over 30 million people depend on this critical ecosystem for water and livelihood, and it is facing environmental, social, and economic and security issues, through land and water degradation, overuse, pollution, climate change, leading to loss of job opportunities and livelihoods. The project will apply the lessons learned in biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites to strengthen the capacities of Chad, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Niger and Nigeria to safeguard and sustainably manage their hydrological, biological and cultural resources.

The 5th General Assembly of the AfriMaB network is taking place from 12 to 15 September. It was opened by the Minister of Environment of Nigeria, Mr. Ibrahim Usman Jibril, and counted with the participation of high-level decision makers and representatives of leading environmental institutions, biosphere reserves and UNESCO. Prof. Augustine Isichei, member of the Nigerian  National Committee for the Man and Biosphere programme of UNESCO (MAB) gave a keynote presentation on African Biodiversity and Challenges of Conservation. 

Categories: News

UNESCO welcomes United Kingdom commitment to protecting cultural property in armed conflict

Unesco Most Programme - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 19:21
dg-uk-amb-hague-convention-drupal.jpg © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX 12 September 2017

The United Kingdom has joined 128 other countries in becoming a party to the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, often referred to as the 1954 Hague Convention. H.E. Matthew Lodge, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to UNESCO, delivered to Director-General Irina Bokova the instrument of ratification today, on the same day that he officially submitted his credentials as the new ambassador.  

The Director-General welcomed the move. “This is very good news for the protection of heritage in times of conflict, and I see this also as a mark of a renewed commitment of the United Kingdom to the mandate and work of UNESCO.”

The UK also acceded to the two Protocols to the Convention (1954 and 1999) which add further safeguards for protecting cultural heritage important to all humankind.

The accession to the Second Protocol will make the United Kingdom the second permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to be party to this agreement, following the accession by France in March 2017 to this instrument.

The United Kingdom’s ratification of the Hague Convention and the accession to the two Protocols is another significant step for further strengthening the legal framework for protecting cultural heritage at an international level, following adoption of UNSC Resolution 2347 by the United Nations 15-member Security Council, earlier this year, under the Presidency of the United Kingdom. The resolution, unanimously passed, affirmed that attacks on cultural heritage sites might constitute a war crime and their perpetrators must be brought to justice. It was the first UN Security Council resolution of its kind.

The United Kingdom first announced its intention to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention and accede to its two Protocols, including the two protocols in 2004. The Cultural Property in Armed Conflict Bill passed in the upper chamber, the House of Lords, on 19 May 2016 paving the way for the necessary domestic legislation to be adopted.

Categories: News

How digital learning is improving livelihoods in Nigeria

Unesco Most Programme - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:42
digital-learning-improving-livelihoods-nigeria-c-unesco_abuja.jpg © UNESCO Abuja - Learners attend a digital literacy class in Cross River State 12 September 2017

“I stopped going to school when I was in third grade,” says Atim Ewa, 29, who started taking digital literacy classes in Nigeria’s Cross River State. The young man had to rely on his junior brother in order to do the basic accounting and paperwork for the small business that he operates in his hometown because he was unable to read and write. “Every time I had customers, I had to wait for my brother to arrive before I could start doing business. It was not easy.”

UNESCO’s “Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy” Project (RAYL) established a pilot digital literacy scheme in Nigeria’s Cross River state in November 2015 to tackle the high illiteracy level in the country.  The RAYL Project is committed to the eradication of illiteracy in Nigeria by strengthening national capacity for designing and delivering quality literacy. The project aims to provide basic literacy skills for adults and youth who have been excluded from the formal educational system.

The scheme develops digital content and instructional materials for the learners, proving laptops and handheld devices with integrated learning content. Facilitators are essential to the digital learning process but the project is not restricted within the walls of a classroom. The interactive software allows learners to study in their own style and at their convenient time, making the practice more personal and engaging. The software also lets learners study at their own pace, spending more or less time on lessons to achieve the same level of learning. At the end of the pilot project in two centres in Cross River State, 927 learners had successfully acquired digital learning skills in addition to basic literacy.

Today, things are very different for Atim, who learned how to read and write, as well as essential computing skills. “I can now read well, count my money and produce receipts to my customers,” he says. “My business is growing very well and I’m currently employing eight people.”

In the second Phase of the RAYL project, UNESCO will deliver more digital learning materials to address the post-literacy needs of learners. About 40,000 learners will be provided with ICT driven vocational skills using an apprenticeship system that will be put in place.

Ada Obi is another Nigerian youth who did not get a chance to complete primary school as a child because of her parent’s financial situation. It was one of her relatives visiting from abroad who encouraged her to go and register at a local learning centre. Ada is now learning with a facilitator using a mobile phone and is already able to read and write. “I want to be a nurse and take care of people,” she says. “I’m happy!” 

UNESCO has been at the forefront of global literacy efforts since its foundation in 1946. Literacy is a fundamental human right and the foundation for lifelong learning. Last year marked the beginning of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to further work on solutions in closing the literacy gap for millions around the world who still lack basic literacy skills.

This year’s International Literacy Day was celebrated around the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’.

Categories: News

Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain and the Director-General inaugurate Bahraini Women Artists Exhibition at UNESCO

Unesco Most Programme - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 16:35
dg-queen-consort-bahrain.jpg © UNESCO

On 12 September Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Queen Consort of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Director-General Irina Bokova, inaugurated the exhibition “Women” by Bahraini Women Artists, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 12 to 15 September 2017.

The exhibition features a group of five women artists with a wide range of styles, schools and artworks, selected as representatives of the Bahraini art scene, coming from different generations and covering different topics through photography, paintings and juxtaposition of images. It was organized by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and the curator, Ms Louise-Amelie Barbier, who sees the exhibition as “an opportunity to show an unfamiliar artistic scene to the French public as well as the artistic and cultural world”.

“Gender equality is a UNESCO global priority and that it is not a women’s issue but a human rights issue, it’s about the societies we want to live in and is a key condition for sustainability,” said the Director-General, underscoring the importance of art and how it has a “unique potential to open minds, spur thinking, engagement and even action”.

H.E. Dr Mai bint Mohamed Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, addressed the importance of sharing Bahraini artwork with the world,  highlighting that Bahrain “considers art and culture of vital importance within its national vision”.

Following the opening of the exhibition, the Director-General held a bilateral meeting with Her Royal Highness in presence of H.E. Dr Mai bint Mohamed Al Khalifa, President of Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to UNESCO H.E. Dr Mohammed Abdul Ghaffar and representatives from the Supreme Council for Women.


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Dreams of graduation

Europaid - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 13:19
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UNESCO International Conference on the DarkNet, the dark side of the Net

Unesco Most Programme - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 09:45
12 September 2017

How to tackle the challenges posed by the DarkNet, a parallel cyberworld often used for criminal purposes? This is the subject of an expert meeting organized on 15 September at UNESCO headquarters (Room IV, 10am-1pm) with the aim of understanding this complex, shifting and little-known phenomenon.

Entitled “DarkNet: the New Societal, Legal, Technological and Ethical Challenges”, this meeting will explore themes such as the dangers of an underground internet accessed anonymously; potential strategies for avoiding the negative consequences of this system which can be used as a platform for violence extremism; as well as the technical and legal implications of this parallel internet.

The main speakers include Chafica Haddad, Chairperson of the Intergovernmental Council for the International for All Programme of UNESCO; Nacira Guerroudji-Salvan, Founder of the Circle of Women in Cyber Security; Dan Shefet, Lawyer and President of  the Association for Accountability and Internet Democracy; Nicolas Arpagian, Lecturer at the French National Police College (ENSP); Tony Day, Senior Software Developer at the Centre of Excellence in Terrorism, Resilience, Intelligence and Organised Crime Research; and Jonas Seider, Criminal Intelligence Officer at INTERPOL.

This meeting is part of a series of international conferences organised by UNESCO’s Information for All Programme in an attempt to fight against Internet radicalisation and violence in cyberspace. The first of these conferences, “Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalisation and Extremism”, took place in June 2015, followed by “Internet and the Radicalisation of Youth: Preventing, Acting and Living together” (Quebec, Canada, November 2016) and recently “Youth and Information and Communication Technologies; Preventing Violent Extremism in Cyberspace” (Beirut, Lebanon, May 2017).


Journalists wishing to attend this event are requested to contact: Djibril Kebe, UNESCO Media Services,'; // -->

(link sends e-mail), +33(0)145681741


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