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  • 29 September - 17 October 2003


    Paris, September 29 - Empowering individuals holds the key to winning the battle against poverty, said Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in an address thismorning to the representatives of the 190 Member States of UNESCO. And “education, culture and the sciences,” she underlined, “are indispensable tools for empowerment.”

    Macapagal-Arroyo.jpg “My government has adopted a comprehensive approach in the battle against poverty, composed of a market environment to create jobs, strong institutions of governance, social safety nets, and agricultural modernization founded on social equity. Education,” she added, “is key to all these components of the war against poverty.” These efforts should reach everyone as “exclusion builds resentment, which in turn makes the excluded easy recruits for those who espouse violent means for their own selfish or radical agenda.”

    “The Philippines is a multiethnic society, and so we support UNESCO’s drawing up of an international instrument on cultural diversity,” said President Macapagal-Arroyo. “I have adopted a policy of institutional accommodation of our various cultural traditions by such policies as
    empowering the madrassah schools of our Muslim communities to become part of the formal educational system.”

    Turning to the subject of new information technology, the President emphasized that “the Philippines agrees with the focus on creating knowledge societies rather than information societies. Information societies” she explained, “focus on providing hardware and software. Knowledge societies give attention as well to the human and social systems that must also be transformed for technology to make a

    In contrast to the concept of information societies, which defines the digital divide in terms of connectivity and the availability of computers, the digital divide, in knowledge societies, “recognizes that the poor in developing countries remain isolated economically, socially and culturally from the growing content of the arts, science and technology. The problem,” she stressed, “is magnified by the language barrier as English is used in 80 percent of the websites although only
    one thenth of the world speaks the language.”

    “Resolving the digital divide would require holistic plans and programmes covering policy, human capacity, enterprise, applications, content, and infrastructure that can serve as catalysts to development. This points to an urgent need for a multilateral institution capable of orchestrating such an effort that would maximise private-public partnership. UNESCO,” she concluded, “can be that institution.”


    Source UNESCO Press Release N° 2003-64




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