Benin President Boni Yayi visits UNESCO on 29 JuneBoni Yayi, President of Benin, delivered an address on 29 June at UNESCO on “Democracy and Development”. UNESCO is the first international organization he has visited since his election in April 2006.
The President of Benin, who says his mandate stands “under the banner of development and the sharing of experience”, said that “in order to meet the challenge of development, we should start by meeting the fundamental need of human beings for instruction and education.” He emphasized the need for “quality teaching rooted in our cultures and open to all cultures.”
“Haven’t the development models that others attempted to impose upon us up until now, and which overlooked our cultural realities, shown their limitations if not their failure?” he said, referring to culture, which he considers an agent of development, alongside science and communication.
“UNESCO’s fields of competence seem indeed to constitute the very place where the issues of a genuine culture of peace and development are played out,” he declared, defining the Organization as “a laboratory of ideas par excellence”.
“I have therefore come to the laboratory so that together we can delve more deeply into this fundamental concern for our people that is development, and see how UNESCO can respond concretely in its domains of competence to this aspiration, widely shared on all continents,” he continued.
President Yayi then appealed to “the community of development partners in the public sector, the private sector and in civil society for better consultation and coordination, in order that they increase their extra-budgetary resources to the Organization, thus helping it to better accomplish its mission and perform even greater service to humanity.”
UNESCO’s Director General Koïchiro Matsuura said he was “very responsive to President Yayi’s remarks” and pledged to reinforce cooperation with Benin. “We will do what is necessary to support all your efforts, notably by reinforcing capacity-building, developing educational programmes, training teachers and expanding distance learning,” he affirmed.
“Africa is a political priority for the Organization,” he added, evoking UNESCO’s close ties with the African Union, NEPAD and regional African organizations. “Like you, I am indeed convinced of the necessity of continuing to establish in Africa the foundation for an in-depth regional and sub-regional dialogue,” he said.
The addresses of Mr Yayi and Mr Matsuura followed presentations by Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan and Xinsheng Zhang, respectively President of UNESCO’s General Conference and President of its Executive Board. Numerous Ambassadors and Permanent Delegates to UNESCO and Organization staff members attended.