Sunday, November 26, 2006

UNESCO Co-Organizes "Water for Life" Concert in the Sahara

“Water for Life” is the theme UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Jean Michel Jarre has chosen for an exceptional concert among the sand dunes of the Moroccan Sahara on 16 December. The Modern Arab Orchestra of Casablanca, the Morocco Philharmonic Orchestra and a number of eminent soloists will join Jean Michel Jarre on-stage for this unique concert which will take place at Merzouga, Morocco.

The concert is organized with the support of the Kingdom of Morocco and UNESCO. The concert will also be one of the highlights marking the end of the United Nations International Year of Deserts and Desertification and part of the UN Water for Life Decade (2005-2015). Using his hallmark state-of-the-art visual and sound technology, the French composer/musician will stress the importance of protecting and properly managing the planet’s limited freshwater resources and halting the advance of desertification.

“We want this concert to be a wake up call. We want to make people more aware of just how precious water is and the critical need to look after what we have,” said Jarre.

Desertification affects the lives of more than 250 million people and threatens another 1.2 billion in 110 countries. An estimated 60 million of those affected in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to move towards northern Africa and Europe by 2020.

*Check out the UNESCO Water Portal to learn about Water Events Worldwide and more
*Our previous postings:
A World of Science
U.S. to host 2007 UNESCO Hydrology Meeting
*World Water Assessment Program
* Facts and Figure extracted from the 2006 UN World Water Development Report

Senegal Hosts Event to Launch the 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report on Early Childhood

Photo ©UNESCO/Sam Dhillon

From 27-30 November some 80 experts, including African ministers, delegates of UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank will meet at the UNESCO Regional Office in Dakar (BREDA) to discuss the 2007 Report and strategies for developing early childhood care and education (ECCE) in Africa. We are proud to announce that Americans for UNESCO Board Member Emily Vargas-Barón will be a keynote speaker at the event. She will invite nations to consider and debate their options in view of the appalling statistics and few resources for children in the region.

ECCE is considered a missing link in the education chain in many regions of the world. More than half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa do not have a formal program for children under age three and participation in pre-primary education is less than 10%, according to the Report published by UNESCO. Most countries unlikely to reach the EFA goal are located in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and South Asia. Financing, links between education and poverty reduction, the development of national early childhood policies and international partnerships are among the themes on the agenda.

The Report states that targeting resources to the most disadvantaged children should be the first step of a broader national early childhood care and education policy for all children. Based on regional case studies, it emphasizes that strong political endorsement at the highest level can have a considerable impact on the development of ECCE policies. Click here to access full or summary report.

The EFA Global Monitoring Report is an annual publication prepared by an independent team based at UNESCO. It monitors progress towards the six Education for All goals adopted in Dakar, Senegal in 2000:

1) expand and improve early childhood care and education
2) provide free and compulsory universal primary education by 2015
3) equitable access to learning and life-skills programs
4) achieve a 50% improvement in adult literacy rates
5) eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and at all levels by 2015
6) improve all aspects of the quality of education

The last day of the meeting will highlight UNESCO’s Plan of Action for accelerating EFA Goal 1 in Africa and regional frameworks, with a concluding plenary on “next steps”. Click here for a detailed agenda of the meeting.

Journalists are invited to participate in the regional launch of the EFA Global Monitoring Report at 9:30 am at the Sofitel-Teranga. The report will not be presented at the press question and answer at 12:45 pm.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

UNESCO Hosts Roundtable to Discuss Violence Against Girls in School

International experts will meet at UNESCO Headquarters on 23 November to examine the problem of violence against girls in school and how it should be dealt with. The roundtable, will be opened by Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and Michel Doucin, Ambassador for Human Rights, French Foreign Affairs Ministry. The meeting will be divided into three panels that will focus on:
  • The role and responsibility of national and local public authorities,
  • The role and responsibility of civil society and NGOs
  • The role and responsibility of educational personnel

Recent reports, including Mr. Pinheiro’s study, The Secretary-General’s in-depth Study on Violence against Women, and the Education for All Global Monitoring Report published by UNESCO, show that gender-based violence in schools, often in the form of sexual violence and harassment, persists in all countries. It represents a generalized violation of human rights and a major obstacle to the achievement of Education for All: of the some 77 million children not enrolled in school, some 55 percent are girls.

The roundtable is organized by UNESCO, the French National Commission for UNESCO and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Photo ©Whole Woman Homeopathy

First Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Meeting

System of IFA Divination, Nigeria ©Wande Abimbola

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held their first meeting in Algiers on 18 and 19 November.

In charge of implementing UNESCO’s International Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Committee’s first task is to prepare operational directives for the Convention, with particular attention to assistance mechanisms and criteria for inscription.

The 2003 Convention aims to safeguard a wide range of living heritage in forms such as oral traditions and expressions; performing arts; social practices, rituals and festive events; knowledge and practices relating to nature and the universe; and know-how linked to traditional crafts. Two Lists are established under the Convention: the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding. The first inscriptions on the Lists should be carried out in the autumn of 2008.

Among the masterpieces of the oral and intangible cultural heritage of humanity proclaimed by UNESCO in 2001, 2003 and 2005, are manifestations such as the Oruro Carnival (Bolivia), the Ningyo Johruri Bunraku puppet theatre (Japan) and the Ahellil of Gourara, a poetic and musical genre emblematic of southwest Algeria.

In March 2004, Algeria became the first State to deposit its instrument of ratification of the Convention. As of 13 November 2006, 68 States ratified the Convention.

UNESCO Program of the Intangible Heritage

The 24 members of the Intergovernmental Committee

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More International Students Earn Doctorates in the U.S.

© Ryan McVay/Taxi/Getty Images

International students represent an important means for strengthening U.S. cultural diplomacy around the world. New reports show that the United States continues to welcome more international students than any other country and that a growing percentage of the doctorates U.S. universities award are earned by students who are not residents of the United States.

According to a new report by the National Science Foundation (NSF), "U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century", the largest groups of international students earning doctorates have come from China, India, Taiwan and South Korea. Students from the People's Republic of China, the largest international group, received more than 24,000 of the doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in the 1990s.

The NSF report describes the development of the unique U.S. graduate education in which fundamental research is conducted at universities, typically with the assistance of graduate students. The report also discusses other important changes in graduate education. Women made up 47 percent of all U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s from 1995 to 1999 -- a more than fourfold increase from 1960 to 1964, when they earned just 11 percent of U.S. doctorates. Minorities now earn about 14 percent of U.S. doctorates in both the sciences and engineering and in other fields as well.

Recent trends in international student enrollment in the United States reported by the American Council on Education (ACE) in Students on the Move: the Future of International Students in the United States show that by 2003 international students earned 55.3 percent of doctoral degrees in engineering, 44.3 percent in mathematics, and 43.8 percent in computer sciences.

International student enrollment declined slightly in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, after more than 30 years of continuous growth. The ACE report attributes this decline to a variety of factors including "perceptions that it is difficult to secure visas and that the United States is unwelcoming to international students; competition from other countries; the high cost of U.S. higher education; increasing higher education capacity in countries that traditionally send a large number of students to study overseas, such as China and India; and increased anti-American sentiment around the world."

For more information, see the Department of State's e-Journal Study in the U.S.

Jeffrey Thomas/ U.S. DoS

UNESCO and HP Launch Project To Counter Brain Drain In Africa

The UNESCO Hewlett-Packard “Piloting Solutions for Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa” project was launched yesterday to help reduce brain drain in Africa by providing universities laboratories and research centers in Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe with systems of interconnections that will enable students and faculty who have stayed in their countries to establish links with researchers and professionals around the world.

The African project was developed by UNESCO’s Education Sector in response to requests by Member States. Over the past decades, African countries have suffered greatly from the emigration of skilled professionals, scientists, academics and researchers who are estimated to be leaving the continent at the rate of 20,000 a year.

The Education Ministries of the countries involved, along with UNESCO, will choose the universities that will benefit from the project. Preference will be given to university departments with important information technology components. HP will provide equipment and local human resources to the universities, as well as training and support, until the projects become self-sustainable. It will also donate PCs and monitors and fund research visits abroad and meetings between beneficiary universities. UNESCO will be in charge of overall coordination and monitoring of activities, as well as administrative management; evaluation and promotion of results.

This new project in Africa follows the successful joint HP-UNESCO “Piloting Solutions for Alleviating Brain Drain in South East Europe” project, launched in 2003. Three years after its launch, the project has resulted in the development of websites, databases and new research projects at several of the universities involved. Four universities* have become self-sustainable in the use of grid technology and the project continues in three other universities**.

*University of Split in Croatia, University of Montenegro, East Sarajevo University and the University of Sarajevo

**University of Belgrade, University of Skopje and the University of Tirana


Check out the October 2006 issue of UNESCO’s “Education Today” Newsletter: From brain drain to brain gain (PDF)

UNESCO and the private sector

African students the most mobile in the world, From the UNESCO Institute for Statistics

Hewlett-Packard and UNESCO, A partnership that works

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Join the UNESCO/OECD Internet Discussion Forum on Open Educational Resources

UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) are holding an Internet discussion forum to focus on the findings and conclusions from a draft OECD study on Open Educational Resources*, and raise awareness on OER. The Community of Interest that has been formed has been active since October 2005 and has more than 600 members from 94 countries. For more information about the Community and previous discussions, go to

The forum will end on December 1st,2006. The upcoming sessions are organized as follows:

  • 20-26 November: What are the motives or incentives and barriers for individuals and institutions to use, produce and share OER?
  • 27 November – 1 December: What are the policy implications and the most pressing policy issues at institutional, regional and national level coming out from this study?

To participate in the forum, send an email to Susan D’Antoni with "Join OECD OER forum" in the subject line.
For more information and continuous updates regarding the OECD study, go to

*OER – educational resources that are freely available on the Internet for use, adaptation and re-use

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Global Microscience Project (GPME)

Practical experiences are an essential part of learning science. However, in many countries these experiences are not provided in the majority of their primary and secondary schools. There are several reasons for this: cost, safety, waste disposal and teacher preparation. Indeed, relatively few university students can be trained in science because of these factors. To help overcome these problems, microchemistry and other microscience kits and workbooks have been developed under this UNESCO project.

The project has been in existence for several years, and more than 80 countries have introduced microchemistry workshops and training courses. In some countries, UNESCO-Associated Centers have been established to further develop the microscience project. Now, English versions of the available microscience materials provide coverage of all educational levels: from primary to all of the secondary level (and university/tertiary level in some cases). While the set of teaching and learning packages is only complete in English, many specific microscience materials are available in other languages.

Download Microscience Materials (English Version): Click on the materials to download the different chapters.
I. Primary Microscience Experiences

II. Chemistry

III. Physics (Microelectricity)

IV. Biology

Friday, November 17, 2006

UNESCO's Decentralization Policy

UNESCO's decentralization policy seeks to ensure that UNESCO designs and implements programs that, although global in scope, are adapted to the needs and specific circumstances of Member States. Special attention is given to developing countries and their local socio-economic, geographical, cultural and political contexts.

UNESCO's Decentralization Action Plan groups Member States for service by a global network of multi-disciplinary Cluster Offices, National Offices, Regional Bureaus and Liaison Offices. The Bureau of Field Coordination is responsible for ensuring the smooth implementation of this new field network and provides a clear, single line of management. In addition, UNESCO Institutes and centers with well defined mandates and operations exist worldwide.

Click on the subtitle below for linked lists of the relevant offices.

Cluster Offices
These are the main platform for delivery of all UNESCO activities. They are multidisciplinary, ideally with each Sector represented. The Head of Office, while often having a background in a particular field, mostly play executive roles, managing the Program Specialists covering the various domains. The office implements a cluster program which is the result of consultation and consensus; National Offices join that cluster program.

National Offices
National Office programs are more focused, according to their individual purposes. They implement a time-bound national program, which results from consultations within that country. They assist in devising the cluster program where that Member State is concerned.

Regional Bureaus
Each Regional Bureau is responsible for the program in a given region and program domain; the programs are implemented through the Cluster and National Offices and drawn up through regional consultations. Regional Bureaus are almost always located in a Cluster Office and as such benefit from staff in a variety of fields, but often have an additional complement in their own substantive domain. Those staff with regional responsibilities based in offices other than Regional Bureaus act first and foremost as Program Specialists answerable to the Head of their Office. Regional Bureaus have no representational authority, nor do they oversee the Cluster and National Offices in hierarchical terms.

Liaison Offices
Liaison offices in New York and Geneva maintain close relationship with the Headquarters of the United Nations and other United Nations organizations.

Websites of UNESCO Institutes and Centers
There are two UNESCO international Centers and nine Institutes. They are all linked to this website.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Winners of the 2006 UNESCO Literacy Awards

© UNESCO/B. O'Malley
The UNESCO prizes are awarded annually in recognition of particularly effective contributions to the fight against illiteracy, one of UNESCO’s priorities. This year’s Prizes have been attributed to the following literacy projects:

The UNESCO International Reading Association Literacy Prize* has been awarded to the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD) of Pakistan, which provides literacy classes to adults and to out-of-school children, recruits volunteers and schoolteachers to ensure wide community participation in the enrolment of children in school. >> More

The Mother Child Education Foundation (Turkey) has received one of the two UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prizes** for its contribution to literacy, and to raising women’s political awareness and participation in decision-making processes. The other UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize was given to the Youth and Adult Literacy and Education Chair of the Latin American and Caribbean Pedagogical Institute of the Republic of Cuba (IPLAC). Its program – Yo, sí puedo – has been adapted to, and replicated in different parts of the world.

As for the two UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy***, awarded for the first time this year, one prize was presented to the Ministry of National Education of the Kingdom of Morocco for its Non-formal Education Programme designed specifically for marginalized adolescents in rural areas. The other UNESCO Confucius Prizes for Literacy is awarded to the Directorate of Literacy and Continuing Education of Rajastan, India for having raised literacy significantly among both men and women during the past decade through innovative programs – including educational camps covering subjects such as vaccination, sanitation, child care, family planning, environmental issues, etc.

*The US $ 20,000 UNESCO International Reading Association Literacy Award was founded in 1979 thanks to the International Reading Association.

**The two US $ 20,000 King Sejong Literacy Prizes were created in 1989 through the generosity of the government of the Republic of Korea.

***The US $ 20,000 UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy was established 2005 through the generosity of the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

UNESCO Beijing Office: The Education Programs

The goal of Education for All (EFA) is at the core of UNESCO Beijing’s Regular Program in education, with emphasis on expanding opportunities for women, girls and ethnic minorities. A highlight of the education program by UNESCO Beijing is its cooperation with the International Research and Training Center for Rural Education (INRULED).

The Office continues to support the Golden Key Research Center of Education for the Visually Impaired. Golden Key is a Chinese non-governmental organisation dedicated to educating visually impaired children in rural areas.

UNESCO has been providing support to China, D.P.R. Korea and Mongolia under the transdisciplinary program on “Educating for a Sustainable Future (EPD)”, for their national efforts in integrating issues of environment, population, health, and development through education, training and information activities. UNESCO Beijing also contributes to the development of technical and vocational education in these three countries, thereby promoting a “learning society” in which education is no longer restricted to its traditional forms.

The UNESCO Beijing Office regularly cooperates with UNDP, UNICEF and other UN agencies on a number of projects and inter-agency activities. With UNDP China, UNESCO Beijing has been working as a technical cooperative agency for the project “Capacity Building for Environmental Education in Primary and Middle Schools through the Production of Interactive Teaching Materials.” It is also implementing the project “Improving Nine-year Compulsory Education in Poor Areas, Focussing on Girl Students”.

UNESCO's Beijing Office

UNESCO's Beijing Office was created in 1984 as the UNESCO office in China for Science and Technology. The office has gradually expanded its activities and territory since then. In January 2002, it became a Cluster office for East Asia covering the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan, Mongolia, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Korea (ROK). The office serves as the main platform to communicate with UNESCO's Member States in the region.

The Beijing Cluster covers 25% of the world population, consisting of five countries that are interrelated historically and culturally. There are, however, significant cultural and societal differences among the countries. The languages are totally different. Two are highly industrialized countries, two are less developed.

Today, the office serves all five UNESCO programs:
* Education
* Natural Sciences
* Social and Human Sciences
* Culture
* Communications and Information
The Social and Human Sciences sector unit was created in February 2002. The Communication and Information sector unit was created in September 2004.

UNESCO and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour announce Global Partnership to Advance Gender Equality

UNESCO and the Sony Ericsson Women’s Tennis Association Tour (WTA) just announced a landmark global partnership. The social responsibility program marks a new level of commitment to raise awareness of gender equality issues and advance opportunities for women’s leadership in all spheres of society.

Venus Williams has volunteered to serve as the first global “Promoter of gender equality” under the partnership:

“I have always believed that as the world’s leading sport for women, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to help break down barriers to success for women. Through this partnership with UNESCO, our goal is to let women and girls throughout the world know that there are no glass ceilings, and to do our part to support programs that provide real opportunities for women to succeed in whatever they set their minds to.”

UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura stated:
“I am very happy to announce (…) that UNESCO and the Sony Ericsson WTA are joining forces to launch a unique program between the private sector and a UN agency aimed at strengthening national commitment to women’s empowerment and enhancing women’s capacity to fully partake in all forms of societal development…”

Key planned elements of the program include:

  • A Sony Ericsson WTA Tour/UNESCO Fund for women and leadership. The fund will be endowed initially with approximately €200,000 as seed funding,
  • A “Promoter of Gender Equality” player program, which will involve players at both a global and national level in awareness raising activities as well as direct involvement in specific gender equality and women’s leadership programs throughout the world,
  • Mentoring, scholarship and fellowship programs designed create opportunities and the environment for women and girls to succeed in all walks of life and usage of existing UNESCO and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments, galas and conferences as awareness and fundraising platforms. Additionally, the Sony Ericsson Championships promoters and the city of Madrid will support the program through marketing, awareness and fundraising activities. Advertising to raise awareness of gender equality issues is also planned.
Since it’s founding in 1973, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and its players have been leaders in fighting for equality, including most notably in the area of equal prize money at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

UNESCO promotes the empowerment of women, women’s rights and gender equality as an overall objective in its five fields of competence: education, natural and human sciences culture and communication/information. In particular, UNESCO seeks to integrate a gender equality perspective into all stages of its program. The ultimate goal is to strengthen the Organization’s ability to create the conditions for women and men alike, from all walks of life, to enjoy human development and peace on an equal basis.


*United Nations Girl's Education Initiative (UNGEI)
Toolkits on Education of Girls and Women
EFA Global Monitoring Report 2003/2004 (Focus on Gender and Education for All)

©Photo: AFP/USA Today

Towards a New UNESCO Portal on Higher Education Institutions

Free of charge, easy to access and searchable, these are the characteristics of the Pilot Project “UNESCO Portal on Recognized Higher Education Institutions”. Experts met in UNESCO on 13 and 14 November to discuss the ways to increase the transparency of quality provision in cross-border higher education.

The principal aim of the Pilot Project is to provide information and easy access to online resources for students through a UNESCO-hosted portal. The pilot project will involve a limited number of countries that are each responsible for their own national content. Once the feasibility, cost-effectiveness and sustainability of the project are established, it can provide the foundations for the implementation of a larger-scale project hosted by UNESCO.

This project is a follow-up to the UNESCO/OECD Guidelines on Quality Provision in Cross-Border Higher Education.

Related links

*UNESCO’s work in Higher Education

*UNESCO Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications

*UNESCO Position Paper on Globalization

*UNESCO/OECD Guidelines on “Quality provision in cross-border higher education” (available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese)

Reflect and Celebrate on November 16, World Philosophy Day & International Day for Tolerance

© Photo: Mohamed Bannani

World Philosophy Day - celebrated each year on the third Thursday in November – falls this year on the same day as the International Day for Tolerance, 16 November. Today is thus an excellent day to join events worldwide and celebrate this UNESCO initiative. The idea behind the initiative was to encourage people in different parts of the world to share their particular philosophy with others and to open up their ways of thinking to new ideas, while fostering public debate among intellectuals and civil society on the challenges now facing our societies.

Until tomorrow, November 17, special celebrations will take place in Rabat, Morocco to honor the event. Events such as an opening lecture on “Philosophy and the condition of the modern world”, a Philosophy Café, a book fair and art exhibition will be organized alongside the round tables, as well as an Interregional Philosophical Dialogue: Asia and the Arab World.

Countries in all regions of the world will be organizing events in celebration of World Philosophy Day. >>Events in the World
>> Click here for a more detailed look at the World Philosophy Day program.

At UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, two international seminars and an exhibit will be held throughout the week until November 18. Topics for discussion are “A century with Levinas: Levinas-Blanchot, thinking the difference” and “Philosophy as a cultural and educational practice: a new citizenship”. Philippe Maurice’s paintings and a dramatic “Installation” by the Collectif fragmentaliste entitled “From the Fragment to the Series” will add a visual dimension to the seminars.

If you are in New York, you may want to attend the celebrations organized and hosted by St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, NY. Events are free and open to the public. Today’s sessions
are scheduled through 9 p.m. Topics include “Philosophy and Education,” “Philosophy and Science Fiction,” “Philosophy in Popular Culture,” “Philosophy and Communication,” “Philosophy and the Creative Arts,” “Philosophy and the Emotions,” and “Philosophy in the 21st Century.”


In celebration of International Day for Tolerance, the 2006 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence will be awarded at a ceremony to take place at 6 p.m at UNESCO Paris.

This Prize was established thanks to UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Madanjeet Singh, to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandi. The Prize is presented every two years to individuals or institutions in recognition of exceptional achievements in the promotion of tolerance and non-violence.
The 2006 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize will be awarded to Veerasingham Anandasangaree from Sri Lanka, President of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). A tireless defender of democracy and peaceful conflict resolution, Veerasingham Anandasangaree has helped improve knowledge of the Tamul cause, through dialogue, through the promotion of non-violent solutions in Sri Lanka and by taking a stand against terrorism.

If travelling or living in one of those countries, don’t miss:

  • The Conference on "Interregional Philosophical Dialogues: Asia and the Arab world – encounters with modernity” to be held November 17-18 in Rabat, Morocco
  • 21st Century Talks: What future is there for humankind? What future for the planet? to be held 25 November at UNESCO, Paris.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Third Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities

The Third Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Highest Appropriate Authorities focuses on four main themes:

• Preservation and presentation of cultural heritage;
• Cultural identity, diversity, and dignity;
• Culture, the creation of decent work, and the fight against poverty;
• Culture and the role of indigenous peoples

It is being held in Montreal, Canada (November 13-15).

According to CCN Mathews
, The Honourable Beverley J. Oda, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, is chairing the meeting:
"Canada's New Government is proud to host this prestigious meeting in the province of Quebec. We believe in the importance of these meetings to exchange ideas and information and foster cooperation on cultural policy issues," said Minister Oda who will deliver a Keynote Address during the Opening Session of the Meeting on November 14. "Canada intends to use this meeting to engage countries of the Americas on the issue of cultural diversity and to promote the ratification of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"More power for UN reps urged"

Read the full article by Mark Turner in the Financial Times , November 9 2006.

A blue-ribbon reform committee has recommended that the United Nations should establish a network of much more powerful country representatives who have and exercise the authority to rein in and allocate funds for country programs. This would presumably affect UNESCO's programs as well as those of other decentralized U.N. agencies.

The reform committee of 15 including the UK chancellor of the exchequer, the prime ministers of Pakistan, Norway and Mozambique, and the former presidents of Chile and Tanzania.

The committee suggests designing unified UN development plans in each country, putting all funds into a single pot, and then allocating money to the different agencies as appropriate. The process would be overseen by a UN resident-coordinator in that country who would have far more authority than at present. The UN’s global network of coordinators would then report to a powerful new ‘Sustainable Development Board’, headed by the UNDP in New York.

Their proposals need the approval of the General Assembly to become policy.
According to the The Financial Times article, it is far from clear whether the recommendations will be accepted by the General Assembly.

Friday, November 10, 2006

UNESCO produced TV documentary on Darfour gets best investigative journalism award

Read the full UNESCO press release.

The Children of Darfur”, directed by Denmark’s Camilla Nielsson and produced by UNESCO, receives the International TV3 Actual Award today in Barcelona, Spain, a 10,000-euro first prize for outstanding examples of investigative journalism.

UNESCO produced this documentary as part of its “Revisiting Public Service Television” series.

The Children of Darfur had already received this summer the 25th Grand Prix of Documentary at the 2006 Monte-Carlo TV Festival. Other prizes received by the series include the Golden Award from the Aljazeera Documentary Film Festival and the Bronze Medal at the URTI TV Film Festival.

Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its 175th session, Paris, 26 September-12 October 2006

Read the full 77 page report online. (PDF format.)

More than 15 States ratify the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Read the full UNESCO news release online.

As of 8 November, 16 nations have ratified the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. The Convention was adopted by UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2005. It will enter into force three months after the the 30th nation has ratified. According to Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura" “No other UNESCO Convention concerning culture has been ratified by so many States in such a short time.”

UNESCO now administers of a range of standard setting instruments in the field of culture including three Conventions – concerning world heritage (1972), intangible heritage (2003), and the diversity of cultural expressions (2005).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Job Opening: Senior Programme Specialist for Literacy Assessment and Monitoring

Go the UNESCO Institute for Statistics job posting for full details.

Our U.S. Mission to UNESCO would like to be able to propose several Americans of stature who can firmly oversee the monitoring of the UNESCO literacy program. The LAMP program was recently awarded an additional $1 million by the First Lady during the September White House Conference on Global Literacy.

Senior Program Specialist (LAMP)
Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Program

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is seeking a qualified candidate for the post of Senior Program Specialist, LAMP, based in Montreal. Under the authority of the Director of UIS, the incumbent as a senior team member will be responsible to develop, manage and implement the UIS strategy for measuring education quality and outcomes, including the following responsibilities:
* Establishing the long term strategy for literacy assessment to be managed by the UIS including a financial strategy;

* Leading the development of the literacy assessment tests to be used in LAMP as well as background questionnaires, survey methodologies and estimation procedures;

* Raising funds and assisting countries to raise funds for their activities under the LAMP program. Liaising with pilot countries and assuring the quality of their work.

* Working closely with users of literacy data (UNDP, World Bank, Global Monitoring report team, Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to ensure that the implementation of LAMP is managed in a statistically and politically appropriate manner.

* Collaborating with the Quality Division of the Education Sector to develop and implement the measurement of global student assessments; taking responsibility for liaison with the various regional and international student assessment studies across the world.

* Managing the UIS LAMP team and cooperating with other UIS sections to ensure that the UIS involvement in Literacy Initiative For Empowerment (LIFE) and the development of regular literacy estimates and projections is integrated with LAMP developments; analysing International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) data and contributing to the Education for All, EFA, Global Monitoring report.
Closing Date: 2006-11-30 12:00 pm

Requirements: An advanced university degree with a specialization in statistics, education planning or direct related field. At least 10 years of progressively responsible relevant national and field experience
in educational policies and planning, of which at least 5 years in a management position. Experience in international cooperation is required; UNESCO experience desirable. Excellent verbal and written communication skills in English or French, and good knowledge of the other language is required.

The annual remuneration (including post adjustment) is at the current exchange rate 126 000 USD (116 900 USD without dependents) exempt from income tax and prior to deductions for social security.

Candidates should submit electronically a completed UNESCO CV (available on our website under 'jobs') with a letter of introduction by 30 November 2006, to:
U.S. citizens interesting in this position should also alert the U.S. Mission to UNESCO to their candidacy:
2, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris, Cedex 08

T: 33(0)
F: 33(0)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Nobel Committee Broadens Definiton of Peace

©Banker to The Poor, Autobiography of Prof. Muhammad Yunus

Michael Renner, a Senior Researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, comments on the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize award. >>Full article

Alfred Nobel stated that the Prize be given to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses ”. Though the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s latest decision is grounded on a more modern principle; that “peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.”

The 2006 Peace Prize, -awarded to micro-credit pioneer Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank he founded-, may indeed draw criticism from traditional security analysts. Yet, although disarmament, conflict prevention, and reconciliation remain crucial in achieving peace, the nature of conflict has changed. And so did the variables of peace.

Working towards a conception of peace that is more than the mere absence of war demands a commitment to sustainable development, equity, and participatory democracy. We need to enhance our comprehension of the ways in which a multitude of social, economic, environmental, and demographic pressures interact, and how these dynamics play out in light of ethnic and political fault lines.

© Worldwatch Institute/ Eye on Earth

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The USA-Iran Team wins special recognition at the Mondialogo School Contest Award Ceremony

The awaited winners list of the 2006 Mondialogo School Contest initiated by UNESCO and DaimlerChrysler to promote intercultural learning among young people was announced Monday evening in Rome. This year 35,000 students from 138 nations took part in the competition.

The winner team is one that brought together students from schools in Indonesia and Italy for raising money to provide free schooling to Indonesian children living off garbage dumps.

Second prize was awarded to a team from Japan and Turkey for a game they designed about cultural heritage protection and on how to respond to natural disasters.

The third place in the contest was shared between partner teams from Congo-Poland and a team from the Czech Republic and Argentina. The Congo-Poland team published a magazine dedicated to the life of children in these countries, while the Czech Republic-Argentina team produced an inspiring video report highlighting similarities in their everyday lives.

Special recognition for commitment to dialogue was given to a team from Iran and the U.S.A., for their project on water supply. Because direct communication between the two countries proved difficult, the partner team used intermediaries in Bolivia and Pakistan to complete their project.
Further special recognition went to a Romania-Yemen partner team for outstanding creativity. Team members set up a model intercultural community whose architecture unites Christian and Muslim elements in a single city.
A partner team from South Africa and Australia also received special recognition for a project on HIV-AIDS education.

Visit the Mondialogo School Contest Website
Read our previous related postings
*The Mondialogo School Contest
*Call for Applications: The Mondialogo Engineering Award 2006-2007

© Mondialogo

Monday, November 06, 2006

Alice Ilchman; Advisor to Americans for UNESCO

Alice Stone Ilchman was a member of the Advisory Council of Americans for UNESCO, sharing her great knowledge and experience in education and international affairs. She died in August at her Bronxville home from complications of pancreatic cancer. She was 71. We mourn her loss.

Dr. Ilchman was dean at Wellesley College for five years and president of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y., for 17. She was appointed dean of the college and professor of economics and education at Wellesley in 1973. Dr. Ilchman was instrumental in establishing Wellesley's Center for Research on Women. Her accomplishments while she was at the helm of Sarah Lawrence from 1981 to 1998 were many. Her legacy includes two new buildings, 10 faculty chairs, three overseas programs, and stronger fiscal health.

During her tenure at Sarah Lawrence, Dr. Ilchman received an Honorary Doctorate from Mt. Holyoke College (1982), the Maternity Association Carola Warburg Rothschild Award (1991), the Maxwell "Spirit of Public Service Award" (1994), The Wellesley College Distinguished Service Award (1995), a Fulbright Honor (1996), and the Alice Ilchman Award for Public Service (1998).

She served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs during the Carter administration for two years, with responsibility for the newly created United States Information Agency, the Fulbright program, US libraries abroad, and the international visitor program.

For 13 years, she was a member of the board of the Rockefeller Foundation. At the time of her death, she was director of the Jeannette K. Watson Fellows program, which creates paid summer internships for first-generation college students in New York City.

She had a long interest in and association with India. In 1962 and 1963, she and her husband lived in Delhi and Rajasthan, while she worked on her dissertation on rural development in India for the London School of Economics. She lived in Delhi again in 1968 and 1969. While at the University of California at Berkeley, she directed three Peace Corps training projects for India and co-taught the school's first interdisciplinary South Asian studies course.

Dr. Ilchman graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1957 and was a member of its board of trustees for 10 years. She earned her master's degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and her doctorate from the London School of Economics and Politics in 1965.

In addition to her husband and son, Dr. Ilchman leaves a daughter, Sarah, of New York City; two sisters, Nancy Dickinson of Indianapolis and Elizabeth Stone of Los Angeles; and a brother, Donald C. Stone Jr. of Oakland, Calif.

Read obituaries from:
* The Boston Globe

* Sarah Lawrence College

* The New York Times

* The Washington Post

Saturday, November 04, 2006

"National Geographic rates best and worst"

Photograph by MIchael Yamashita

Read the full article in The Seattle Times of November 3, 2006.

"The (National Geographic) magazine's November-December issue had 94 World Heritage sites evaluated by experts in ecology, sustainable tourism, preservation and other fields, to determine which sites were at risk from development or environmental pressures and which ones were being preserved and promoted appropriately.

"The magazine's "best-rated" World Heritage sites were Norway's West Fjords, followed by Vezelay in France, which is known for its abbey and medieval architecture; Mexico's Guanajuato, which dates to the 16th century; and Alhambra, Granada and Cordoba in Spain.......

""Destinations in trouble" were identified as Stonehenge, England; China's Great Wall; Machu Picchu, Peru; Acropolis, Greece; Egypt's pyramids; and Ha Long Bay, Vietnam."

From an earlier National Geographic article* in National Geographic:
UNESCO officials do not see the list as a mere trophy case of superlative places. World Heritage status commits the home nation to protect the designated location. And if a site—through natural disaster, war, pollution, or lack of funds—begins to lose its value, nations that have signed the treaty must assist, if possible, in emergency aid campaigns. To date 172 of the world’s 192 nations have signed the treaty.

The World Heritage program has scored high-profile successes. It exerted pressure to halt a highway near Egypt’s Giza Pyramids, block a salt mine at a gray whale nursery in Mexico, and cancel a dam proposal above Africa’s Victoria Falls. Its funds, provided by dues from the treaty’s signers, have hired park rangers, bought parkland, built visitor centers, and restored temples.

It relies on persuasive powers more than legal threats, but at age 30 the World Heritage initiative has quietly become a force for appreciating and safeguarding the world’s special places.
*"They need a world of support, and they’ve got it. Today 730 World Heritage sites find salvation in the United Nations," feature by Tom O’Neil, National Geographic Magazine, October 2002.

"In the Holy Caves of India"

Buddhist figures in the Ajanta Caves of the Indian state of Maharashtra. The caves are an extensive series carved, beginning in the second century B.C., into an escarpment above the Waghora River.
Image by Sam Hollenshead/Polaris for The New York Times

Read the full article by SIMON WINCHESTER in The New York Times of November 5, 2006.

"The monument comprises a series of 29 caves that have been carved deep into this sheer face of a horseshoe-shaped cliff a few miles from the old walled town of Ajanta, hidden away in the deep gorge gouged in the high Deccan plains by the Waghora River about 300 miles inland from Mumbai. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated as such back in 1983 as one of India’s first, along with the Taj Mahal. And though Shah Jahan’s famous memorial in Agra is far better known, the Ajanta Caves are hugely popular, particularly with Indians, who see them as eloquent testimony to their country’s immense and unbroken history. The caves can in consequence become insufferably crowded. But I went in March, the lowest of the low seasons — the schools hadn’t closed for spring break and the weather, though warm, wasn’t as hot as most Indian travelers prefer. There were so few people around that it sometimes seemed as though the tourists were outnumbered by the monkeys, who gathered in troops up in the neem trees, gazing down at the scattering of humans who wandered, in rapt attention, in and out of great gaping holes in the high walls of the cliff."