Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Babylon's Ancient Wonder, Lying in Ruins: History Not Served By U.S. Presence"

Article source: Nada Bakri, The Washington Post, July 29, 2009.

The Washington Post today has an article describing massive damage done to the ruins of Babylon because the site of the city was used by U.S. troops in Iraq as a military base. The story cites a major report recently published by UNESCO. The article notes that efforts are now under way to have the site of Babylon added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites.

Several efforts to restore Babylon have been announced in the past six years, but none has made progress. Now, with security in Iraq improving, officials hope to start work on a $700,000, two-year project funded by the U.S. State Department to restore the site. .....

"Of course this is not enough, but it is better than nothing," lamented Mussa, the site director. "We had hoped that work would start this year."

On her desk were papers detailing the damage, gathering dust.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Senate Hearing on David Killion

David Killion has been nominated by the Obama administration to serve as the U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing today on his nomination, as part of the confirmatin process. Killion has many years of experience in the State Department and as a Congressional aid, and deep knowledge of UNESCO. It is expected that he will be quickly confirmed.

You can also watch the hearing on streaming video. Mr. Killion is one of several nominees, and during the video he reads from his prepared statement and responds to a question from Senator Barbara Boxer with regard to the poor educational opportunities for girls in Afghanistan. Killion responded to the effect that UNESCO focuses on gender issues and that it can be even more credible than bilateral efforts in promoting education in some circumstances; he pledged to work on girls education in Afghanistan if confirmed.

Only two Senators participated in the hearing, which Senator Boxer interpreted as a good sign for the nominees since there were few if any concerns about their nominations. She indicated that a vote was scheduled on the nominations on August 4th, prior to the August Congressional recess.

From the Press Citizen

The Iowa City Council at its Monday night work session committed to providing financial support to the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature’s nonprofit organization.

Iowa City was named a “City of Literature,” one of only three in the world and the first in the United States, by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

The new organization will promote reading, support writers and literary education, create literary activities and facilitate appreciation of literature, according to a city memorandum.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Election of the Director General of UNESCO

The new Director General of UNESCO is to be elected in the Fall of 2009. Nine people were nominated by member nations and their candidacies are to be considered by the Executive Board, with the final election by the General Conference on the basis of the Board's recommendation. A website, using a blogging platform, provides an overview of the process and information on the eight active candidates. Comments are permitted.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Clubs for UNESCO: a practical guide

"This updated guide is designed for every individual with a desire to contribute to a worldwide movement. It is a basic how-to manual for setting up a Club for UNESCO. It addresses each of us, as individuals and as groups, who wish to be part of humanity’s solution and believe in a sustainable global community that can think globally and act locally. This guide also provides basic information on UNESCO’s ideals and offers general ideas on how to maximize a community’s outreach capacity."

UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education

Opening Session Keynote Address by Dr. Jill Biden
Dr. Jill Biden at the
UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education
© UNESCO/M. Ravassard

Dr. Jill Biden, educator and wife of U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden, led the U.S. delegation to UNESCO’s second World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE), held at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters from July 5-8, 2009.

Dr. Biden was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony, where she spoke about her passion for teaching and the influential role that community colleges play in America’s university system.

U.S. Cultural Preservation Awards for 2009:

Patan, Kathmandu Valley.
©UNESCO/F. Bandarin.

Eight projects at World Heritage Sites to receive U.S. financial support

U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation Awards for 2009 Support Projects at Eight World Heritage Sites

The restoration of the intricately carved stone sculpture of the Tusha Hiti and Bhandarkhal Tank at the Patan Royal Palace in Kathmandu, Nepal, is one of eight projects at World Heritage Sites to receive financial support from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) in 2009. Full text.

Eye on Education Regarding Global Climate Change

Educators, policymakers, and curriculum designers interested in global climate change take note: A seminar conducted early next week will bring much discussion and suggest initiatives regarding how to best to disseminate information about climate change in educational settings.

UNESCO and the Government of Denmark have partnered together to conduct a seminar July 27-29 at UNESCO headquarters that will seek to promote education regarding climate change. It also hopes to identify learning materials educators can use as well as to connect educators on local, national, and global levels interested in this topic. The seminar will be conducted in English, French, and Spanish and will bring together 60 participants in both plenary and working group sessions.

This seminar will elicit information that can better promote awareness of global climate change in multiple levels of education. For more information regarding the seminar, click here

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The New Issue of The UNESCO Courier

© Laurent Testot

Of the 32 billion tons of CO2 we produce globally, our natural ecosystems can absorb approximately 18 million tons. Without this natural sponge, the global ecological situation would be far more desperate.

In the past 30 years the planet’s natural resources have diminished by 30% - due to over-consumption, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

This month’s edition focuses on several of the 22 new biosphere reserves within UNESCO’s world network, which now has a total of 553 sites. Scattered among 107 countries, these vast regions consist of land, coastal and marine ecosystems internationally recognized as important.

Maintaining biodiversity, finding the right balance between human activities and environmental protection, safeguarding inhabitants’ traditional rights and preserving wildlife: these constitute the main challenges for the sustainable management of these sites. Read the editorial.

EFA - Global Monitoring Report 2009

Overcoming inequality: why governance matters

Despite much progress since 2000, millions of children, youth and adults still lack access to good quality education and the benefits it brings. This inequality of opportunity is undermining progress towards achieving Education for All by 2015.

Who are these individuals and groups? What are the obstacles they face? How can governance policies help break the cycle of disadvantage and poverty? What policies work? Is education reform integrated into the bigger picture? Is the international community making good on its commitments?

Go to the EFA Global Warning Report website!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Nicholas Burnett to leave UNESCO on October 31

Nicholas Burnett was appointed as Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO in September 2007. Mr Burnett was previously at the head of UNESCO’s flagship Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Os pássaros cantam todas as manhãs
Trazendo uma renovação ao dia que nasce.
Observe que quando os pássaros cantam
O Sol brilha uma vez mais na savana.
-Assim como as aves, os africanos insistem em fazer a manhã.
E mais uma manhã, depois outra, e outra...
O que é o atraso para uns, é a ponta do paraíso para os que sabem...

Ben Poem

Ben Poem

A fake real tale

There is a ray of light
In the darkest deep eyes
Behind the miserable face of that African boy.
There is an emptyness to fill
-With naughty and enigmatic smile.

After this uncertain scene
I'm still felling blue
Dogged closely by that little creature
I'm so worried, I'm so busy...
And this annoying baby is disturbing me:
-Hey boy, c'mon! Your halo is shying the Moon!

Ben Poem

Editor's note: These two poems were provided by the author as a form of support for Americans for UNESCO and its mission. JAD

"Writers, poets take part in book festival"


Iowa City has been designated by UNESCO as a city of the book, and this month's book fair there is conducted in part in honor of that designation.

"Writers around the world know that Iowa City is a center for writing, Christopher Merrill said Saturday.

"Iowans throughout the state, however, might not think of the city in the same way, said Merrill, the director of the University of Iowa International Writing Program who led the efforts to designate Iowa City as a UNESCO City of Literature.

"Sharing Iowa City's literary qualities with the state and beyond is one of the goals as the city and supporters determine how to build upon the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization designation, Merrill said.

"Merrill was one of a number of writers and poets to participate in the first Iowa City Book Festival on Saturday, a daylong celebration of books, reading and writing presented by the University of Iowa Libraries."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Venus Williams & UNESCO: A Program to Empower Women

Source: "There is more to Venus Williams than meets the eye," Helene Elliott, The Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2009.
What most fans don't know is that behind the scenes the world's third-ranked player is just as powerful as she is on the court.

Williams has successfully pushed for equal prize money for women, helped formulate a better-calibrated tour schedule and was a key figure in a joint program between the WTA and UNESCO -- the cultural arm of the United Nations -- that promotes gender equality and leadership opportunities for women.

The idea for the UNESCO program emerged from her experience at an ESPY awards ceremony in which two Afghan women were honored for starting a soccer program in their war-torn homeland. The UNESCO-WTA program uses tennis as a vehicle to educate women around the world, making the sport a steppingstone to a better and fuller life.

Student Success: A Published Paper

UNESCO is a world leader both in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) and in recognition of local knowledge systems and their value. I want to point to a newly published paper by an American author which describes a UNESCO program that promotes the incorporation of local knowledge in early childhood education in Africa. I am especially pleased to do so because the author is a former student in our UNESCO seminar, and the paper was written as a project for that seminar.

Alicia Ranck Soudée
Current Issues in Comparative Education

Abstract: "Early Childhood Development (ECD) has emerged as a theme in international and African dialogue on education in recent years. UNESCO’s Division of Basic Education Early Childhood promotes an integrated approach to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy development and review. The study examines how this is implemented in three West African countries, with similar cultural groups in their diverse populations: The Gambia, Mali and Senegal. In The Gambia there is thus far a proposal on how indigenous knowledge should be included in early childhood programs. The clos d’enfants [children’s groups], in Mali demonstrates similar ideas through an international partnership with a local initiative program, developed in Bamako using mothers, local materials and toys made by the participants. Senegal’s program combining local traditions and European pedagogical philosophies, the case des tout-petits [children’s huts], came from the President. Analysis of these three cases suggests that these programs and proposals may be a springboard for UNESCO and partners to further develop ECCE with indigenous knowledge and practice in Africa."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For News and Views on UNESCO

I recommend the following two resources for people interested in UNESCO:

UNESCO Job: Senior Programme Specialist

Manager: Teacher Training Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa)
Location: Dakar, Senega
Level: P5
Closing Date: 16 September 2009
For More Information:
To Apply:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

To Admire and Preserve: World Heritage Site News

World Heritage Sites have long been places that both inspire us by their beauty and evoke our protective instincts as we strive to preserve our cultural histories. Since the 1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage international treaty, UNESCO has officially encouraged conservation of sites the World Heritage Committee has found to have outstanding universal value.

The list has grown over the years. Now at 890 sites that include 689 cultural, 176 natural, and 25 mixed properties, the World Heritage Site list is a burgeoning collection of some of the world's greatest treasures. Two recent pieces of news have drawn attention to these sites once more:

First, the convention met late last month to admit 13 more sites, remove one site, and place three on the danger list. More information can be found here.

Also, an exciting partnership between UNESCO and the NHK Japanese broadcasting corporation has produced documentaries on World Heritage Sites. Selected videos have been edited by UNESCO and are available on its World Heritage documentary site.

Summer often draws out feelings of admiration for natural beauty the world has to offer. With these sites and resources available, it is very easy to continue this admiration.

City of Bath, World Heritage Site

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Global Education Digest: new data

The 2009 Global Education Digest (GED) presents the latest education statistics from primary to tertiary education levels for more than 200 countries. Data are provided for the school year ending in 2007 or the latest year available, as well as for 2008 for a small number of countries. The wide range of education indicators presented in the report helps assess progress towards Education for All and Millennium Development Goals.

In 2007, over 2.8 million students were enrolled in higher educational institutions outside their country of origin, a 53% increase since 1999.

Microsoft Commits $50 Million in Higher Education Resources, Training and Certifications

Gates & Matsuura at 2004 signing

In an effort to help higher education institutions support economic stimulus efforts and work-force development strategies, Microsoft Corp. has committed up to $50 million through the Microsoft Education Alliance Program agreement. As part of the agreement, the company will provide resources and tools for short-term work-force training and higher education enhancements.

The announcement was made at the Education Leaders Forum, a one-day forum jointly organized by UNESCO and Microsoft, where more than 150 ministers of education, senior education officials and policy advisors discussed how governments and universities can take full advantage of e-technology's potential to address the current knowledge and skills challenges facing higher education.

Earlier this week, Microsoft and UNESCO announced a joint task force to help higher education institutions worldwide meet the growing challenge of supporting economic stimulus efforts and work-force development strategies. The UNESCO-Microsoft Task Force on Higher Education and ICT will develop a strategic plan of action to identify how ICT can be used by governments as a catalyst for change. Microsoft's $50 million commitment is supporting the mission of the new task force and enabling the implementation of critical UNESCO and Microsoft educational resources.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Biden at UNESCO's WCHE 2009

Source: Associated Press

"Jill Biden, the wife of the U.S. vice president and longtime educator, says American community colleges could be a pillar of economic recovery and a source of new skills after layoffs — and a model for poorer countries struggling to educate their citizens.

"The World Bank had a similar message in a report Monday that denounces the "hype" surrounding elite universities. The report says developing countries, especially in times of recession, would be better off meeting the educational needs of their local communities and economies than trying to build world-class schools.

"Community colleges are "a gateway in this economy, as people are losing jobs and going for new training," Biden told The Associated Press in a telephone interview late Sunday.

"Biden, who teaches English as a second language at Northern Virginia Community College, called on 28 years of education experience in a keynote speech at a UNESCO forum on higher education in Paris."

Read the full article!

Editorial comment: One would not want to underestimate the contributions made to this country by Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Cal Tech or the University of Chicago. On the other hand, one should not underestimate the contributions of the other 4000 institutions of higher education. Dr. Biden's suggestion -- that community colleges are an important model that developing nations should study and perhaps utilize -- is clearly useful. Failure to recognize the value of world class research universities would be as dangerous as overvaluing them or assuming they were easier to develop than is in fact the case. JAD

Summer UNESCO intern learns about other cultures, people

Photo by Travis Pratt
Source: The Frederick News Post
As a sociology and anthropology major in college, Jessica Gillespie enjoys learning about the ways people interact, especially when they are from different cultures.

"I like learning about the interaction between people, to look at why people do what they do," she said.

The job she has as summer intern for Frederick 's UNESCO Center for Peace, then, is a perfect fit, she said.
Read more!

Editorial comment: Americans for UNESCO has a close relationship with Frederick's UNESCO Center for Peace and its director, Guy Djoken. JAD

The World Heritage Marine Program

The mission of the World Heritage Marine Program is to safeguard the world's marine cultural and natural heritage by assisting countries with the nomination of marine properties and with the effective management of these sites. The program seeks to ensure that these precious marine areas will be maintained and thrive for generations to come.

Marine areas of "outstanding universal value" will be inscribed as World Heritage sites thus leading to a better protection of marine biodiversity. All marine World Heritage sites are to be exemplary models of effective and results-based management benefiting coastal communities around the world.



Martha J. Kanter, New Under Secretary of Education, at a Unesco Conference in Paris

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Two days after being sworn in as under secretary of education, Martha J. Kanter was on her way here to attend the 2009 World Conference on Higher Education, held by Unesco, the United Nations education and science agency.
Editorial comment: This is a good sign that the Obama administration will take a serious interest in UNESCO. JAD

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

"Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution"

This Report highlights key trends in higher education and provide a brief description of worldwide developments of these trends with supporting statistical or data illustrations and an analysis. The major trends are: massification in higher education; globalization and internationalization; distance education and new applications for information and communication technologies (ICTs); the privatization of higher education; the global flow of talent (globalization has exacerbated the worldwide movement of highly educated people); the academic profession at a crossroads for the student experience; research universities and the “world-class” phenomenon; financing higher education; quality assurance and university-industry linkages. The Report outlines some future trends in higher education.

The authors of the report (Philip G. Altbach
Liz Reisberg 
and Laura E. Rumbley) are from the Center for International Higher Education, Boston College. The report was prepared as an input to the World Conference on Higher Education 2009, and published by UNESCO.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Background Documents WCHE 2009

UNESCO has made available a number of background documents for the World Conference on Higher Education 2009.

ICTs for Higher Education (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.3)

A New Dynamic: Private Higher Education (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.4)

Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.5)

Trends in Global Higher Education: Tracking an Academic Revolution – Executive Summary (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.6)

Student Affairs and Services in Higher Education : Global Foundations, Issues and Best Practices (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.7)

Student Affairs and Services in Higher Education : Global Foundations, Issues and Best Practices – Executive Summary (

La nouvelle dynamique de l’enseignement supérieur du développement durable (réinventer le progrès) (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.9) (Only available in French)

L’Aventure des savoirs dans la vie académique de ce siècle (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.10) (Only available in French)

Public Responsibility for Higher Education (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.11)

Brain Gain Initiative: A Digital Infrastructure Linking African and Arab Regional Universities to Global Knowledge

Synthese des études thématique réalisées dans le cadre de la Task Force pour l’enseignement supérieur en Afrique / Thematic Studies Synthesis Realized in the Context of the Task Force for Higher Education in Africa (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.13)

List of Documents (ED.2009/Conf.402/INF.14)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for outstanding practice and performance in enhancing the effectiveness of teachers

On 13 March 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, and Dr Hanif Hassan Ali, Minister of Education of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing the “UNESCO-Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for outstanding practice and performance in enhancing the effectiveness of teachers”.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Lula Wins UNESCO Peace Prize

The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize is awarded this year to Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, President of the Federal Republic of Brazil. The prize includes a gold medal and $150,000. Henry Kissinger is the President of the Jury that selects the prize winner. The prize is to be awarded in a ceremony on July 7th.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

ICT Transforming Education

13th UNESCO-APEID International Conference on Education
and World Bank-KERIS High Level Seminar on ICT in Education

ICT Transforming Education
15-17 November 2009

Hangzhou, People's Republic of China

The 13th UNESCO-APEID International Conference, in conjunction with the World Bank-KERIS High Level Seminar on ICT in Education, emphasizes the powerful role ICT can play in changing the way we teach and learn. The conference will provide a forum to explore, identify and synergize innovative approaches for harnessing the potential of ICT to increase the reach and quality of education.