Director-General pays official visit to Brunei Darussalam

Director-General pays official visit to Brunei Darussalam

From 24 to 25 May 2006, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, paid his first official visit to Brunei Darussalam, which became UNESCO’s newest Member State in March 2005.

The principal aim of his visit was to establish a first contact with the country’s leadership and to identify the main areas and orientation of future cooperation.

In his audience with H.M. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah at the Royal Palace, the Director-General congratulated H.M. the Sultan on Brunei’s accession to UNESCO as its 191st Member State. He informed H.M. the Sultan that cooperation between UNESCO and Brunei was already underway, namely, in the area of science and technology, and that he was hopeful their partnership will extend to other areas of competence of the Organization. In this regard, Mr Matsuura explained that UNESCO stood ready to cooperate closely with Brunei, particularly through its Office in Jakarta, in areas of mutual interest by means of both Regular Programme and extrabudgetary activities.

The Director-General also paid tribute to H.M. the Sultan for the remarkable achievements his country had attained since it acquired independence in 1984, in particular in the sphere of education. H.M. the Sultan explained that his country placed strong emphasis in the promotion and enhancement of education but that it would now require UNESCO’s assistance in fostering quality education. As regards culture, Mr Matsuura underlined the equal importance of preserving nature and biodiversity and in this regard noted with appreciation how Brunei was taking utmost care to preserve and protect its rainforest biodiversity; he explained that UNESCO would be ready to extend all the necessary cooperation in this domain.

In his meeting with H.R.H. Princess Hajah Masna, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Director-General informed H.R.H. of the various Conventions designed to promote the preservation of cultural heritage. In this regard, he strongly encouraged the Government to ratify the 1972 World Heritage Convention so that Brunei heritage sites may be eligible for inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. He also urged H.R.H. to consider ratifying the Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage given the importance of cultural traditions. The Director-General assured H.R.H. of the full cooperation of the UNESCO Jakarta Office in providing the necessary assistance in these areas. H.R.H Princess Hajah Masna expressed her appreciation to the Director-General for providing her with the necessary information so that the Government may proceed with the examination of the said Conventions.

In his bilateral talks with the Minister of Education, Mr Pehin Dato Haji Abdul Rahman Taib, Mr Matsuura explained that he was eager to identify areas of mutual interest whereby partnership between UNESCO and Brunei could be further enhanced. The Minister expressed his full support to UNESCO’s work and his commitment to closely cooperate with the Organization by organizing joint activities. To that effect, the Director-General underscored the importance for Brunei to establish a National Commission for UNESCO to benefit to the fullest from its cooperation with the Organization and that all necessary technical expertise would be extended through the UNESCO Jakarta Office to help establish this Commission. Mr Matsuura also proposed that a UNESCO Chair be created on science and technology policy at the University of Brunei Darussalam in order to promote capacity-building through the exchange of knowledge and to develop academic solidarity through interuniversity cooperation. Following the meeting, the Director-General was briefed on the country’s education system by senior officials of the Ministry of Education. The director-General underlined the importance of higher education in the development of national human resources. In that regard, he stressed the need to increase substantially the enrolment of secondary school graduates in higher education.

With the Minister of Development, Mr Pehin Dato Abdullah Bakar, the Director-General emphasized the importance of the role of the sciences in the building of knowledge societies. The Minister agreed with Mr Matsuura and further informed him of Brunei’s intention to particularly strengthen the concept of “applied research” in order to obtain first-hand knowledge of developments in the sciences. Mr Matsuura encouraged the Minister to cooperate with the UNESCO International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics in Trieste. Referring to the rich biodiversity of Brunei, he also invited the country to closely collaborate with the Organization through its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and propose its biosphere reserves to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

The Director-General also met with Mr Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Yaakub bin Abu Bakar, Acting Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, as well as with Mr Yang Mulia Dato Paduka Awang Haji Yusuf bin Haji Abd Hamid, Acting Minister of Communication, in order to discuss relevant areas of future cooperation. Mr Matsuura was briefed on Brunei’s economic achievements and challenges by Mr Yang Mulia Awang Haji Khamis bin Haji Tamin, Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office.

In addition, Mr Matsuura visited the University of Brunei Darussalam, the country’s only university, where the Vice-Chancellor and senior academic staff briefed him on the university’s role, functions and future aspirations. The Director-General’s official visit concluded with a tour of the Royal Regalia Building to obtain firsthand knowledge of Brunei's Royal Regalia.

  • Author(s):Flash Info n°081-2006
  • Source:Flash Info n°081-2006
  • 29-05-2006
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