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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

Director-General Opens the Inaugural Meeting of the Nigerian Science and Technology Education Funds Mobilizing Committee

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, opened on 16 May 2006 the Inaugural Meeting of the Nigerian Science and Technology Education Funds Mobilizing Committee at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in the presence of Her Excellency Mrs. Chinwe Nora Obaji, Honourable Minister of Education of Nigeria. Also present were the Permanent Delegate of Nigeria to UNESCO, Mr Michael Omolewa, high level staff from the Nigerian Education Ministry and rectors from some of the country’s universities.

This science and technology project, which was launched by President Olusegun Obasanjo on 29 September 2005, is a core element of Nigeria’s social and economic reform agenda and reflects the global vision of national transformation as defined in the country’s Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy. The Funds Mobilization mechanism is foreseen under the Funds-in-Trust Agreement between Nigeria and UNESCO for the revitalization of the country’s education system, and will permit Nigeria and UNESCO to work towards the expansion of the project beyond the pilot phase.

In his address at the meeting, the Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura thanked the Nigerian Minister and other stakeholders for their collaborative and fruitful efforts in implementing the science and technology project throughout its pilot phase. He also applauded President Obasanjo for his insistence that developments in science and technology in Nigeria be extended to sister nations within the Economic Community of West African States sub-region, and the continent at large. In this context, he mentioned the recent offer by Nigeria to host the first campus of the Nelson Mandela Institute for Science and Technology – a regional institution that will be based in the Federal Capital of Nigeria – Abuja.

Mr Matsuura went on to stress the importance of applying the scientific approach to problem-solving in all domains, especially in those countries facing development challenges. “Science”, he said, “is the constant quest by human beings to understand their environment, themselves and the universe. Through the discovery and transformation of natural resources, science enables man to improve the quality of life and build sustainable livelihoods. Science and technology are key to achieving peace, progress and human advancement”.

Mr Matsuura also profited of this occasion to make a call to all education planners and teachers to actively engage in promoting interest in science among youth and in particular among girls. “Educators and stakeholders at all levels must be enjoined to enhance the scientific content of formal and non-formal education. Increasingly, communities are requesting appropriate knowledge and relevant tools for local resource processing” he said. “It is the role of educators to meet, stimulate and channel this growing interest, and to help build the sustainable learning communities that, in today’s knowledge society, provide the basis for achieving all development goals”.

He suggested to the Funds Mobilization Committee that if it is to attract more development partners and broaden partnerships for science and technology, it may wish to consider adopting an advocacy strategy based on concrete project achievements; the preparation in collaboration with stakeholders of a comprehensive proposal for the project’s second phase; consultations with key partners at both the local and international level; and ownership and internal mobilization of resources within the country.

The first phase of Nigeria’s science and technology project involves sending science and mathematics kits to 370 primary schools, and 961 micro-science kits to state and federal secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities involved in teacher training. The project will also introduce classroom teachers to innovative approaches to science teaching, strengthen the Federal Inspectorate for effective monitoring and evaluation of science teachers, and contribute to the promotion of a scientific culture in Nigeria, particularly among young people.

  • Author(s):Flash info n°078-2006
  • Source:Flash info n°078-2006
  • 18-05-2006
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