Monday, November 30, 2009

The UNESCO Courier 2009

The 2009 Archives of the UNESCO Courier provides links to all the monthly issues of UNESCO's principle online magazine as well as to three special issues.

World AIDS Day 2009 : “Universal Access and Human Rights” this year's theme

Universal access to prevention and treatment will not be possible “without fully respecting the universality of human rights, regardless of a person’s age, sex, ethnicity, occupation, religious beliefs and sexual orientation,” stresses UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her message for 1 December, World AIDS Day.

Education: the key to a better future for excluded children.

Director-General of UNESCO Ms Irina Bokova said education was the key to a better future for excluded children. She spoke during a day of events at UNESCO headquarters on November 26 devoted to street children and held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Ms Bokova said education was not only a universal right but a weapon in the fight against poverty. ‘What can the future offer street children if they are excluded from education. It is by learning reading, writing and mathematics that they can break the vicious circle of misery and take their destiny into their own hands.’

Despite that the U.S. was an active and prominent participant in the decade-long drafting process, we, along with Somalia, remain the only two nations a party to the UN who have not ratified this celebrated document.

Friday, November 27, 2009

UNESCO publishes WSIS Followup brochure

The brochure, entitled Fostering Information and Communication for Development, is a short introduction to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and its follow-up. It presents different aspects and outcomes of WSIS. Read more!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pensez-vous que le monde globalisé menace les cultures nationales ? ... Forum d'Avignon 2009 Irina Bokova.

Shakira Supports Education for All

Singer Shakira has set up the Barefoot Foundation to insure that every child has the right to a quality education. The program already has schools running in Shakira's native Columbia.

I quote from a recent interview:
Education is a right, not a privilege, and we need to treat it that way. Far too often, children who are born poor die poor, trapping too many children in a cycle of despair. Education is the most powerful way to break the cycle. Education affects every aspect of development. Research has shown that access to education increases wages, lowers the risk of disease and decreases the likelihood a child will turn to a destructive violent life. A single year of primary education can increase a girl’s wages by 10 to 20 percent later in life. We cannot possibly hope to thrive as a global community if we continue to turn our backs on the potential and talents of millions of children.

It’s difficult to believe that, in today’s world, 72 million kids don’t have access to any kind of education, and 226 million adolescents don’t attend secondary school. Hundreds of millions who do attend school can’t learn because of inadequate teachers, lack of supplies or empty stomachs.
Shakira is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and honorary chair of the Global Campaign for Education.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The UNESCO Courier: Memory and History

Image source: UNESCO

From the cruel dictatorships of Latin America and Cambodia, the destruction of the Burgundian kingdom, and the Korean enlightenment, to the splendour and intrigues of the Malagasy Empire, the saga of the Kalahari and the constructive failure of the League of Nations – memory and history wend their way through this issue, revealing the extraordinary wealth of the documented heritage of humanity.

This issue of the UNESCO Courier (2009, Number 9) was produced in partnership with UNESCO’s Memory of the World program.

New UNESCO Director-General gives first speech on education and innovation

The new Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, is making her first public speaking engagement at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) taking place in Doha, Qatar from November 16 to 18.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday UNESCO

The Constitution of UNESCO, signed on 16 November 1945. Yesterday Irina Bokova began her term of office as 10th Director General of the Organization. Best wishes to both!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fall of Icarus

Pablo Picasso painted a huge mural for UNESCO, shown in a thumbnail image above. According to Time magazine (at the time of the unveiling of the mural):
"The painting represents the victory of forces of light and peace over those of evil and death. The skeleton-like figure [center] with black wings is falling through an infinity of blue, like the fall of Icarus, while a female form [left] rises majestically, white and radiant. On the right side of the painting, the three brown figures in repose are the motionless spectators of the drama; they symbolize humanity at peace, contemplating the fulfillment of its destiny.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

World Philosophy Day, 19 November 2009

For this year’s 2009 edition of World Philosophy Day, celebrated since 2005, the Russian Federation is at the honor as a host of the international celebration of the Day, which will take place from 16 to 19 November in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg. Various other activities will also take place at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris as well as in numerous countries in all regions around the world.

Ever since its inauguration as a “Philosophy Day at UNESCO” in 2002 and particularly since its institutionalization in 2005 as a “World Philosophy Day”, this celebration of philosophy has inspired much enthusiasm. With its aim to bring philosophy closer to everyone, academics, students and the general public alike have all shown great interest in this activity that offers new opportunities and space for philosophical reflection, critical thinking and debate.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Confronting the shadow education system: what government policies for what private tutoring?

Mark Bray is Director of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and author of a new book, Confronting the shadow education system: what government policies for what private tutoring? He talks to Eduinfo about the global rise of private tutoring and its impact on mainstream schooling and equity in education. More....

Thursday, November 05, 2009

UNA/USA 2010 National High School Essay Contest

This year's National High School Essay Contest on the United Nations focuses on Millennium Development Goal Eight, "Develop a Global Parnership for Development," and asks students to tackle the challenge of promoting development through international partnership. Specifically, MDG 8 has five targets, including:
  • Target 1: Address the special needs of least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states, and
  • Target 5: In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications
The U.S. engages with the international community through a numberof organizations. While many of these are economic institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, U.S. participation also extends to a number of agencies with broader goals. Organizations like the Organization of American States and the Arctic Council promote regional cooperation, while such institutions as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Interpol ensure that no part of the globe is beyond the rule of law.

UNESCO, another intergovernmental organization seeks to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men through education, science, culture and communications. The United States played a critical role in its development and today it involves people from many of the intellectual communities of the United States in its programs. UNESCO has thematic interest in small island states and has played a key role in the field of information and communication technologies in development.

Students are asked to write a letter to the President of the United States answering the following questions:
1. How can the U.S. build an international system that promotes good governance, development, and poverty reduction?
2. How can the U.S. promote sustainable development and economic growth in developing countries?

UNESCO is recruiting a new senior staff

UNESCO has published the announcements of the competitive recruitment of the following posts:

Serra da Capivara

The Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil is a World Heritage site.
Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with cave paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. They are an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America.
Here is a nice video from YouTube on the site.

For those who are willing to deal with narration in Portuguese, this is also a very nice video on the Hill of the Capivara World Heritage site:

Brazil is now to join China and Bahrain as the third country to have a UNESCO authorized center for training of people to manage World Heritage sites.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

UNESCO pays tribute after death of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss

The world has lost one of its greatest thinkers with the death of Claude Lévi-Strauss, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today, as he paid tribute to the renowned anthropologist.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss was “one of the giants of the 20th century,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General, in a statement issued from the agency’s headquarters in Paris following the announcement of the Frenchman’s death at the age of 100.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Top Obama administration Official visits UNESCO

Ambassador Verveer with UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and UNESCO Director-General Elect Irina Bokova at the 7th UNESCO Forum on Gender Equality, entitled “Beijing: 15 Years After.”
©UNESCO/Michel Ravassard.

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?

Full list of GMR 2009 resources

Sunday, November 01, 2009

UNESCO: Virtual campus for Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has launched a three-year Avicenna Virtual Campus project with Unesco to expand access and improve the nation's higher education system.

Three Avicenna centres will be established at the universities of Baghdad, Basra and Salahaddin to link these institutions with others that are part of the Avicenna Virtual Campus in the Mediterranean region. The virtual campus was first created by the European Commission and Unesco and now has centres in 14 countries.

Photoshelter: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Photoshelter is a cooperative project making available digital photos via the Internet. It has made available a number of photos of World Heritage sites in Asia that are worth your interest.
Asia has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Luang Prabang, Hoi An and Penang are special for the blend of architecture that has been preserved there. My Son, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Angkor Wat are all well known for their history, archeological discoveries and ruins. Toshogu Shrine in Nikko is special for its unique design, as is Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok - one of the largest royal compounds in Asia. Japan is particularly rich in these protected sites, especially Kyoto.

"U.S. Conservatives Attack UNESCO's Sex-Ed Guidelines"

Sex-education and self-awareness classes are held for young women and girls in the sprawling Kibera slum in Nairobi
Time magazine has published an article by Bruce Crumley (September 3, 2009) on the controversy that was created by a UNESCO publication suggesting guidelines for sexuality education in its member nations.
Any attempt to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV around the world has to be a good thing, right? That's what the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) thought. But now it finds itself under fire from American conservatives for proposing a new set of guidelines on sex education in schools as a means of helping young people avoid potentially dangerous sexual activity.