Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Centre and IUCN Representatives to visit Yellowstone

At the invitation of the United States government, the Director of the World Heritage Centre and a representative of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are headed to Yellowstone later this month to get a first-hand look at how the National Park Service is addressing challenges facing the world's first national park which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

A variety of threats to the park prompted the World Heritage Committee to place Yellowstone on its List of World Heritage in Danger in 1995. The park was subsequently removed from the list in 2003. Since then, the United States has continued to report on the conditions of the park to the World Heritage Committee.

During this visit to Yellowstone, part a routine monitoring effort, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN representatives will tour Yellowstone and meet with staff members to learn more about management of the park and actions being taken to address issues facing it.

As part of their visit, the park will host a public listening session with the World Heritage delegation in West Yellowstone on Wednesday evening, September 21. The meeting will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn West Yellowstone Conference Hotel. The World Heritage representatives are hoping to attract individuals representing a wide array of divergent interests and viewpoints to attend and briefly share their thoughts and concerns.

UNESCO Chief at 2011 Clinton Global Initiative

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova is to attend "Conversations on Courage" at the 2011 Clinton Global InitiativeRead more....

Today is the International Day of Peace

 The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. The International Day of Peace is also a day of ceasefire – personal or political.

Read UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova'a:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Democracy and Renewal in the Arab World: UNESCO in support of transitions to democracy

 In the light of current changes in the Arab world, UNESCO organized a high level round-table on the theme "Democracy and Renewal in the Arab World: UNESCO in support of transitions to democracy" in Paris on 21 June 2011. About 20 internationally renowned personalities participated in a dynamic and interactive debate.

Irina Bokova to join other Education for All Principals in New York (18 September)

UNESCO is organizing a meeting of the heads and senior representatives of the five convening agencies for Education for All (EFA), UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA and the World Bank, on 18 September in New York. Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, will also be joined by the head of UN Women and the Chair of the Fast Track Initiative.

They will address institutional cooperation to scale up efforts for the 2015 EFA goals and beyond. Ten years since the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar, the prospects for achieving the EFA goals by 2015 are deteriorating. Progress in access to education has slowed down and the quality of education remains desperately low in many countries, with many children leaving school without adequate literacy and numeracy skills.  
Other issues on the agenda will be a joint response to emerging education needs in the Arab States and the first formal EFA Fast-Track Initiative Replenishment Pledging Conference. This event will be held in Copenhagen on 7 and 8 November in order to revitalize political and financial support for education.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The UNESCO General and Regional Histories: A Contribution to the Rapprochement of Cultures

A 10 minute film to illustrate the extraordinary intellectual adventure embodied in the elaboration of the General and Regional Histories of UNESCO. Launched in 1952 by UNESCO, this endeavour has generated 51 volumes of History in 6 different Collections: The History of Humanity, the General History of Africa, the History of the Civilizations of Central Asia, the General History of Latin America, the General History of the Caribbean and the Different Aspects of the Islamic Culture. Mobilizing more than 1800 historians and experts from all regions of the world, this vast enterprise has introduced a new understanding of human history by highlighting the exchanges between peoples and cultures and their respective contributions to the general progress of humanity.

These books are rather expensive, intended for reference libraries and professional  but many are available from UNESCO publications.

To consult more documentaries on this, as well as many other subjects, visit:

UNESCO History

UNESCO was born on 16 November 1945. UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO'S mission and activities. Go to "Introducing UNESCO: what we are"

Top UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO World Heritage sites includes some of the most beautiful, famous and historic landmarks around the world, from Australia's Great Barrier Reef to Egypt's Pyramids. But there are some that you may not have heard as much about--like Peru's "geoglyphs" of Nazca or the ancient center of Edinburgh. NBC Travel Editor Peter Greenberg shares some of his favorite UNESCO sites from around the world.

UNESCO Initiative for Haiti to be funded by Clinton Initiative

Jacmel scene after the earthquake
UNESCO's Commitment to Action for the cultural recovery of Jacmel (Haiti) has been accepted by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The project was seeking USD 500,000 matching funds to an initiative of USD 1,000,000 to support the culture sector in Jacmel, which was badly affected by the earthquake of January 2010.

In a project building on various assets of the culture sector, UNESCO committed to help rebuild and safeguard the cultural heritage of the town of Jacmel and its annual carnival, as well as to improve economic development in the region through tourism and cultural industries. As result, sustainable jobs in tourism and cultural industries will be created, especially for the young people of the Jacmel area. The project accepted by the CGI is building on earlier efforts financed by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID). Integrated, these action will allow for a substantial support to Jamel, as also identified in UNESCO's strategy: Haiti - Making Culture a Motor for Reconstruction.

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the CGI convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place in New York City from 20 to 22 September 2011.

A roadmap for democracy and renewal in the Arab world

Education and respect for human rights underpin a “roadmap” aimed at supporting the Arab world’s transition to democracy, developed at an international round table organized by UNESCO at its Paris Headquarters on 21 June.

The “roadmap” defines the conditions necessary for the successful establishment of democratic states. Along with education and human rights, it focuses on issues of governance, democratic institutions, citizenship, the active involvement of women and young people, socio-economic development and freedom of expression.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the round table, in the presence of Abdou Diouf, Secretary-General of La Francophonie, Nickolay Mladenov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Nassif Hitti, Representative of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and some 250 participants including experts, academics and civil society leaders specialized in, or from, the Arab region.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers receive UNESCO Peace Prize

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Argentina) receive the 2010 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize at UNESCO Headquarters on 14 September, in the presence of the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Côte d'Ivoire Alassane Dramane Ouattara and several other Heads of State or Government.*

2012 UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists, Djerassi, CA

The Djerassi Resident Artists Program in partnership with UNESCO-Aschberg Bursaries for Artists is offering a One-Month Bursary/Residency for one Visual Artist during the 2012 season. Artists between the ages of 25 and 35 from developing countries are invited to apply.

The Residency 
This will include a private work studio, living space, all meals, local transportation; and UNESCO–Bursary Programe will provide and manage the travel arrangements, a round-trip airfare at best rates in economy class to the San Francisco International Airport.

The selected artist is responsible for working materials and personal necessities. No other financial support is granted. Educational components such as artist workshops and/or classes are NOT offered as a part of this bursary.

Applications must be postmarked by October 31, 2011 for a bursary/residency in 2012.
Applicants will be notified of selection by email in February 2012.
Bursary/Residency Session Dates:
September 11, 2012 – October 11, 2012
(all laureates arrive on the first day and depart on the last day)
The bursaries are designed only for non-US citizens in developing countries.
The  is only intended for professional artists wishing to enrich their careers and by acquiring experience abroad. Students are not eligible.
The bursary is for the selected laureate only. The Djerassi Program does not offer accommodations to spouses, family members, children, or pets.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Spirit of UNESCO

Students have a hell of time grasping the spirit of UNESCO, the vital principle animating not only the formal organization but also the huge community of people and organizations that choose to affiliate with UNESCO in order to advance its mission. UNESCO’s founders told us in the UNESCO Constitution that UNESCO was about building structures in the minds of men, about changing the zeitgeist that had led to two world wars and the holocaust. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova restates that objective, writing that UNESCO must work towards “a new humanism for the 21st century” – that is a vision shared by many peoples, drawing strength from their diversity, forming their common intentions and their mutual will to pursue peace and understanding. The mindset that UNESCO seeks is one that values objective truth, that is informed by the best of human culture, that understands peace not only an end to be desired but as something that must be worked for, that values communication as an end in itself. And thus the problem. How are we to understand such a shared vision; how is the zeitgeist to be changed? 

Given the unique spirit of UNESCO, it is not surprising that that it is a unique enterprise, perhaps more a movement than an organization. At one level UNESCO is, of course, a decentralized intergovernmental organization within the United Nations system, the repository of a collection of international declarations, resolutions and conventions. It is historically the descendant of the Bureau for International Education and the Intellectual Bureau of the League of Nations. Uniquely, UNESCO’s constitution calls for member states to create national commissions for UNESCO involving the intellectual communities (educators, scientists, cultural leaders and knowledge workers) both to advise their governments on UNESCO and to link their national communities with the work of UNESCO and with the intellectual communities of other nations. Finally, the UNESCO spirit has imbued schools, clubs, cultural and natural sites of world importance, bioreserves, geoparks, university chairs and many others to affiliate with UNESCO and independently work to carry out its mission.
(S)ince wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed;…. 
(I)gnorance of each other’s ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war;… 
(T)he great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men, and by the propagation, in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races;…….. 
For these reasons, the States Parties to this Constitution, believing in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives; 
In consequence whereof they do hereby create the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the purpose of advancing, through the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and of the common welfare of mankind for which the United Nations Organization was established and which its Charter proclaims. 
From the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO

UNESCO can be, and often is seen as a bureaucratic organization with a couple of thousand international civil servants, mostly located in the Organization’s Paris headquarters, with a budget of some $600 million per year.

There is another, complementary way of understanding UNESCO, and that is as a place where ideas are generated and elaborated to be widely disseminated by the networks that affiliate with UNESCO. Perhaps the most important phrase in the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution, quoted above, is that “it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Those defenses are built idea by idea, as a rampart is built brick by brick.

UNESCO, of course, is identified as a place for ideas about peace. It emphasizes intercultural dialog and interreligious dialog. As directed in its Constitution, UNESCO focuses on education, natural, social and human sciences, culture and communications as vehicles for the  promotion of peace and the common welfare of mankind.

The obvious way in which UNESCO disseminates ideas is through publications. There have been more than 10,000 UNESCO publications since it was founded and the Organization adds perhaps another 100 per year. It publishes journals and newsletters. Among its important recent publications were Towards knowledge societies: UNESCO world report, The World Social Science Report 2010, UNESCO Science Report and the first UNESCO international engineering report, “Engineering: Issues and Challenges for Development”. In the last decade UNESCO has also been increasingly effective disseminating information via the Internet.

In the following sections I will show some samples of how the spirit of UNESCO is embodied in action.

UNESCO Conventions

Consider the role of UNESCO in promulgating international conventions.

International Conventions are subject to ratification, acceptance or accession by States. They define rules with which the States undertake to comply.

UNESCO provides a venue in which representatives of its member states may negotiate the terms of these international treaties. However, it has no power to enforce the terms of conventions. Rather, nations that choose to ratify a UNESCO convention also undertake to establish the laws and regulations to assure that their obligations under that convention are met. Examples of UNESCO conventions are:
·         Education: Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region. This convention is the basis for the harmonization of higher education in Europe, a process which is helping bridge historic differences among the peoples of Europe.
·         Natural Science: Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. The so called RAMSAR network established under this convention includes 1951 wetlands in 160 countries.
·         Social and Human Sciences: International Convention against Doping in Sport, which went into effect just before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
·         Culture: Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (under which a network of 938 World Heritage sites has evolved) and the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (which has enabled ratifying states to regulate the illicit traffic in art and archaeological artifacts).
·         Communications: Convention relating to the Distribution of Program-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite.
·         Other: Convention concerning the International Exchange of Publications which encourages and facilitates the exchange of publications between both governmental bodies and non profit, non-governmental institutions of an educational, scientific and technical, or cultural nature.

25 conventions have been negotiated in UNESCO’s venue and placed in its repository. Perhaps surprisingly, in some cases the secretariats developed in support of the convention are not located within UNESCO.

An important aspect of these conventions is that UNESCO does not police them. Rather member states negotiate them in the belief that they are in the common interest and it is the member states that create their own laws and regulations to implement the conventions. Thus, the ideas are elaborated by representatives of the member states in the venue provided by UNESCO, with the assistance of the UNESCO Secretariat, expanding and illuminating a fundamental proposition of international cooperation. The member nations then are responsible for deciding whether or not to ratify each convention and for implementing the conventions which they do ratify. Thus it is the governments of the member nations embody the spirit of UNESCO in this case, helping to achieve its mission through their actions.

Education for All

The Birth of the Education for All movement can be traced to the World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990, and to the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. The declarations from these meetings, in which UNESCO was a sponsor, together with the Millennium Development Goals for education set the agenda for a global effort to expand schooling and increase the numbers of children in school.

In addition to helping the global educational community to define a set of EFA educational objectives, UNESCO
  • has provided tools for educators and governments to plan their educational programs,
  • has helped to establish internationally accepted standards for educational statistics which allow progress to be measured (and to be compared among nations),
  • has provided venues and support for Ministers of Education and senior educational officials from groups of countries to meet to discuss successes and problems in their efforts to achieve the EFA and MDG educational goals, and
  • has published an annual EFA Monitoring Report.

Again, it has been the global educational community that has elaborated the ideas of education for all and which has implemented programs in countries all over the world to create the institutions to achieve the EFA goals. The role of UNESCO in the process has been catalytic, helping member states to articulate their objectives and to measure progress in their achievement.

Other Networks

Consider also the many networks of organizations which have chosen to affiliate with UNESCO, thereby joining in the effort to disseminate the messages promoted by UNESCO. Among those networks are:
      National Commissions or comparable organizations in the 193 member states
       66 Category II Centers and Institutes supported separately by member states
       The Associated Schools Network, more than 9000 educational institutions in 180 countries
       University Twinning and UNITWIN Networks, 715 UNESCO Chairs and 69 UNITWIN Networks 
       The UNEVOC Network , 282 specialized TVET institutions in 167 UNESCO Member States
       ALADIN, the Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network,  95 documentation centers in 47 countries
      Community of Practice in Curriculum Development has co-organised and/or participated in a total of 98 workshops, seminars, conferences and symposiums
      University-Industry Partnerships (UNISPAR) – S&Tparks in such areas as biotechnology and ICTsi, nternational training workshops and  regional networks.
      SESAME (Synchrotron-light for ExperimentalScience and Applications in the MiddleEast) which is supported by a numbe of Middle Eastern governments and which involves scientists from those countries in scientific networks
      Microbial Resources Centers (MIRCEN) for international scientific co-operation, microbiological research and biotechnological applications
      5  Biotechnology Education and Training Centres (BETCENs), one in each region, which provide research and training opportunities in plant and marine biotechnology
      The UNESCO’s water family which operates as a global network that works together to implement the organization’s strategic goals.
      World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), 580 sites in 114 countries
      The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) with 61 participating organizations
      The Oceans Observatory System
      The Tsunami Warning Networks
      International Network of Women Philosophers
      The Management of Social Transitions (MOST) program network of national committees
      The Creative Cities Network, 28 cities
      Goodwill Ambassadors, Honorary Ambassador, Special Envoys, Champions and Artists for Peace
      The World Heritage List includes 936 properties
      The Organization of World Heritage Cities, 238 cities in which are located sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List
      UNAL- UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries, over 500 libraries are members of the Network.
      The Power of Peace Network (PPN)
      348 international NGOs and 20 foundations and similar institutions
      3.800 associations, centers and UNESCO clubs in more than 80 countries
      Private sector partnerships with NHK, L’OREAL, HP, Microsoft, Danone, etc.

Huge numbers of people are involved in these networks voluntarily. Indeed, there are many more people are included in these networks than there are international civil servants in the UNESCO bureaucracy. Some of the international NGOs affiliated with UNESCO represent millions of people, such as the international umbrella organizations for scientific and engineering societies and associations of teachers.

These networks consist of organizations and people affiliated with UNESCO by their own choice, both helping to define UNESCO’s agenda and advancing it through their voluntary efforts. They are self governed with little or no supervisory, financial nor management input from UNESCO. They are completely decentralized, collaborating with UNESCO only to the degree that they are inspired and motivated by UNESCO’s mission and its leadership. Yet they are an essential means of accomplishing UNESCO’s objectives. They too embody the spirit of UNESCO.

Concluding Remarks

UNESCO’s mission is to promote “full and equal opportunities for education for all”, “the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth”, and “the free exchange of ideas and knowledge”. It is “to increase the means of communication between….peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives.” It would be an error either to assume that this mission is carried out directly by the UNESCO bureaucracy or to underestimate the critical role of those who chose to affiliate with UNESCO without incentives other than enthusiasm for its mission.

Of course, not all the people in organizations in UNESCO networks spend all of their time advancing UNESCO’s agenda, although many may well do so. But even a small amount of effort per person when aggregated over very large numbers of people can add up to a large total. Moreover, many people spend a lot of their time helping to achieve UNESCO's mission.

A problem with this view of UNESCO is that one can not see ideas nor easily track their diffusion. Moreover, it is hard to understand the impact of UNESCO’s staff and budget on the creation of ideas and their diffusion. It is impossible to measure the impact that 100 publications per year has on the world, and more so the impact of 10,000 publications over more than half a century. The countries implementing UNESCO conventions don’t report on the impact of the conventions on their nations, nor do the countries implementing Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals report on the impact that UNESCO has had on their schools and school children. Indeed, the decentralized networks ascribed to UNESCO don’t report on resources, activities nor accomplishments to UNESCO.

To the bureaucratic mentality, the lack of quantitative indicators and formal monitoring systems is an almost insuperable burden. To that mentality, the lack of quantitative indicators of the changes in the minds of men and of the impact of UNESCO on those changes is tantamount to proof that no such changes or impact exists. Clearly that is a false view, and not everything that is important can be measured. The founders of UNESCO were right in their vision that there was a real need to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men, to encourage the unrestricted search for objective truth and to promote the free exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Equally, however, there is a continuing need to encourage the governments of member states and the extended networks attached to UNESCO to devote their serious efforts to helping achieve UNESCO’s mission. Moreover, in the absence of objective measures it is imperative to obtain the judgment of our wisest observers of society to consider the success of UNESCO in safeguarding is spirit and sharing it with others, to consider where and how best to motivate UNESCO’s partners and networks, and how best to allocate UNESCO’s scarce resources to achieve its mission.

Changing ideas in the minds of seven billion people is a big job, and it is a job that does not lend itself to bureaucratic approaches. It is through the efforts of large networks of people devoted to UNESCO’s spirit that progress is being made.

So many new ideas are at first strange and horrible, though ultimately valuable that a very heavy responsibility rests upon those who would prevent their dissemination.
J. B. S. Haldane

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

The key to every man is his thought.... He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Frequency of Words Linked to Key UNESCO Concept in Books Since 1900

Monday, September 12, 2011

World Teachers’ Day 2011 : join the online discussion!

UNESCO is organizing an online discussion on "Teachers for Gender Equality” from 12 to 23 September.

Share your opinions and experiences regarding gender balance in the teaching profession, gender equality in education and the role of teachers.
This e-forum open to all, will contribute to the World Teachers' Day debates on 5 October at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, one of numerous events organized worldwide to honour teachers on World Teachers’ Day 2011 whose theme is “teachers for gender equality”.
Related Links

Slave Routes: A Global Vision

The film presents the diverse histories and heritages stemming from the global tragedy of the slave trade and slavery. Through the compilation of images, historical narration, and interviews with experts from all the continents, the film shows how African slaves and their descendants, in contrast to incorrect racial theories, helped shape the modern world. The film's main objective is to give a global vision of the different dimensions of this tragedy and raise crucial questions regarding its consequences in modern societies in order to come to terms with this collective memory

Friday, September 09, 2011

Congratulations to Reykjavik from Iowa City

UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors to meet in France

UNESCO’s work and how internationally-renowned personalities can help the Organization meet its objectives will be the subject of the 11th annual meeting of UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors, on 12 September, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the French capital.

In a press statement Thursday, UNESCO said the meeting, to be opened by its Director-General, Irina Bokova, would focus on the Organization’s post-conflict and post-disaster activities, the 2011 Education for All Monitoring Report, and a session on the promotion of youth initiatives and civic commitments for peace and dialogue.

Some 25 Goodwill Ambassadors expected to attend the event are Ara Abramian (Russian Federation), Valdas Adamkus (Lithuania), Mehriban Aliyeva (Azerbaijan), Ivonne A-Baki (Ecuador), Pierre Bergé (France), Chantal Biya (Cameroon), Miguel Angel Estrella (Argentina), Vigdis Finnbogadóttir (Iceland), Bahia Hariri (Lebanon), Jean-Michel Jarre (France), Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière (France), Princess Firyal of Jordan, Vitaly Ignatenko (Russian Federation), Omar Zülfü Livaneli (Turkey), Jean Malaurie (France), Kitín Muñoz (Spain), Ute-Henriette Ohoven (Germany), Christina Owen-Jones (Italy), Kim Phuc Phan Thi (Canada – Viet-Nam), Susana Rinaldi (Argentina), Yazid Sabeg (France), Madanjeet Singh (India), Zurab Tsereteli (Russian Federation), Marianna Vardinoyannis (Greece), Forest Whitaker (United States of America).

Forest Whitaker Speaking in support of Obama Candidacy

UNESCO and Procter & Gamble launch partnership to promote education for young girls and young women

©UNESCO - Student girls in Pangani High School (Nairobi, Kenya)

UNESCO and the multinational consumer product company Procter & Gamble’s Always brand have launched a partnership to promote literacy for young girls and young women. The announcement coincides with International Literacy Day, 8 September.

Overcoming the gender gap is one of UNESCO’s major priorities. In a world that still numbers 793 million illiterate adults, women account for two thirds of those who cannot read and write. And girls account for 53 % of the 67 million primary-age school children around the world who are not receiving the education to which they have a right.               
The first project launched under the partnership concerns girls’ literacy in Senegal, where, in 2006, fewer than 45% of women could read or write. Educational kits and digital resources will be made available to train and support more than 1,200 teachers who will devote 600 hours of literacy and life skills teaching to girls in Senegal.
Read more.....

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Google Trends for "World Heritage"

The graphs above show the relative frequency that the term "world heritage" is used as a search term in Google (top) and the frequency the term appears in news items indexed by Google (bottom). (Click here for explanations of the scales used.) It was obtained using Google Trends.

There seem to be some clear trends. The number of searches on the term has gone down from year to year, and there was much more variability in the number of searches within years in the early years. The number of searches within years tends to be a minimum in the final week of the year.

The volume of indexed literature containing the term has increased from year to year. There is a peak in World Heritage references in the middle of the year which seems to correspond to the annual meeting of the World Heritage Committee. The Committee usually meets in July and makes decisions as to the new sites to include in the World Heritage List and those to add to the List in Danger. Thus it is not surprising that the World Heritage Center generates news stories at that time.
Reviewing the list of points identified on the search frequency graph, five of the six are found in the mid year, and all are related to the addition of new sites to the World Heritage List. The other, earlier in 2011, is related to the nomination of a site for later review by the Committee.

If you go to the site, you can see trends for the last 30 days, for the last 12 months, or for any of the eight years for which there are data. Graphs for shorter periods give more detail as to the key news stories that generate especially high numbers of searches. Additional information is available as to the locations and languages which generate the searches.

While this data is interesting per se, the brief experiment for which results are described above illustrates that a great deal of information can be obtained rather quickly using computer search techniques and the huge amount of data now available on the Internet.

An Account of UNESCO Chief's Visit to Israel

UNESCO Chief Bokova meets with
Israel's President Shimon Peres during her visit.

I quote from a relatively long article in the Jerusalem Post covering the first official visit of UNESCO Director General Bokova to Israel. The visit took place on May 29 and 30, 2011.
Highlighting her organization’s “excellent cooperation” with Israel in a variety of fields including education, culture, science and communications, the director-general of UNESCO said Sunday in Jerusalem that she had been “disappointed” by the process whereby UNESCO’s Executive Board last October passed five resolutions hostile to Israel. 
Irina Bokova, 58, who is making her first visit to Israel, noted, however, that reports that Israel had threatened to suspend all cooperation with UNESCO over the affair were inaccurate and had proved as such. “I was reassured immediately that Israel was by no means considering suspending or limiting relations with UNESCO,” she said. Officials in Jerusalem clarified Sunday that Israel had suspended cooperation with UNESCO only with regard to the five specific issues in the resolutions........

Bokova was invited on this visit to deliver the keynote speech at Sunday’s International Women Leaders conference at the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, an institution with which she said UNESCO has had a long-running relationship. 
She also inaugurated the “UNESCO for Tolerance and Peace Square” in Haifa, in the company of the city’s mayor Yona Yahav. At the ceremony dedicating the square, she praised the mixed Jewish- Arab city as an exemplar of coexistence and dialogue between all population sectors. 
Haifa’s message of “tolerance and peace,” she said, should be disseminated across the Middle East and worldwide. 
Bokova began her trip on Sunday with a meeting with President Shimon Peres, and will on Monday visit and lay a wreath at Yad Vashem and meet with the ministers of education, science and culture and with senior officials at the Foreign Ministry.
Read more...... 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

International Literacy Day, 8 September

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

Despite many and varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target: some 793 million adults lack minimum literacy skills which means that about one in six adults is still not literate; 67.4 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

>> UNESCO International Literacy Prizewinners 2011

Solidarity Days of World Heritage Cities September 8

The Organization of the World Heritage Cities was created on September 8, 1993, in Fez (Marocco). In commemoration of this big event, September 8 was declared “Solidarity Day of the World Heritage Cities” and all these cities are welcomed to commemorate it every year.
The OWHC urges the administration of each member city to take advantage of this day to stress the important responsibility of the city to protect as well as promote the world heritage and especially the privilege of having a part of that heritage in their city.
On September 8, 2011, the World Heritage Cities proud of this title will celebrate the 16th Solidarity Day of the World Heritage Cities. At this occasion, member cities of the OWHC from all around the world will underline their outstanding universal value by organizing different activities that aim at highlighting their uniqueness. We encourage you to be part of them!
The Organization is composed of 238 cities in which are located sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The United States has emphasized archaeological and natural sites in its nominations, and consequently only New York, Philadelphia and San Juan Puerto Rico are cities with sites on the World Heritage List. Unfortunately, none of the cities in the United States has chosen to join in this network.

La Fortaleza, A World Heritage site in Puerto Rico
(I have always wondered whether Tomas O'Daly, one of the Irish Wild Geese in the 18th century who joined the Spanish Army and was credited with modernizing the fortress of San Cristóbal, was an ancestor of mine. John Daly)

The UNESCO Courier: How Youth Drives Change

The International Year of Youth (August 2010 – August 2011) turned out to be more revolutionary than expected. At the beginning of 2011, young people rose up in Tunisia and then in Egypt, and the movement spread to other countries in the region, also rousing countries in Europe such as Spain.  Elsewhere in the world, youth are mobilizing for a range of causes, as varied as the means they use. Much more involved than we tend to think, young people have decided to take things in hand. And in this issue of the Courier, it is they who are speaking out, expressing their concerns and explaining their actions.
To read this issue please click here (PDF-56 pages)



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