United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Prize-giving Ceremony of the Emir Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Prize for Research and Training in Special Needs Education for the Mentally Disabled

In the presence of His Royal Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, Mr Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, awarded on Monday 4 December 2006, during a ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, the first UNESCO/Emir Jaber Prize for Research and Training in Special Needs Education for the Mentally Disabled.

The laureates were Dr Farouk M. Sadek from Egypt and the Ntiro Project for Supported and Inclusive Employment from South Africa. (see UnescoPress n°2006-145).

The UNESCO/Emir Jaber Prize rewards every two years one person or institution from the Arab region, and one from another part of the world, for their contribution to the education of the mentally disabled. As the Director-General underlined, “the Prize celebrates UNESCO’s inclusive vision of education, and our belief in education’s power to transform attitudes and lives. It also draws attention to the need for special measures to target society’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged”.

Addressing the prize-giving ceremony, Mr Matsuura paid strong tribute to His Royal Highness, the late Emir. Sheikh Jaber, who sadly passed away in January this year: “He was an eminent statesman, deeply committed, not only to his people and his country, but also to the needs of other peoples around the world. His generosity is exemplified by the Prize we will bestow here today”, the Director-General said.

Mr Matsuura drew attention to the significance of awarding the Prize on 4 December, following the commemoration of the International Day of Disabled Persons, recognized annually on 3 December. “This is a time to promote awareness of disability issues and of the importance of achieving the full inclusion of disabled persons within society”. “UNESCO is strongly committed to these goals, notably through its EFA Flagship initiative on the Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities. Under this initiative, we have been actively engaged in the negotiation process for the UN Convention for Persons with Disabilities, which was adopted in August this year. The Convention will be an important tool for ensuring that education is truly inclusive of all. It is this noble goal that we honour with today’s Prize” he said.

The Director-General chose the two laureates on the basis of the recommendations of an international jury. Dr Sadek is recognized for his pioneering work to improve the situation of children with learning difficulties in Egypt. The Ntiro Project for Supported and Inclusive Employment is rewarded for its contribution to education and training for both children and adults with intellectual disabilities in South Africa.

The Director expressed his “deep appreciation” to the State of Kuwait for sponsoring this important Prize, and to His Royal Highness, the Emir, for attending the ceremony personally. He extended his warm thanks to the Minister of Education and Higher Education of Kuwait, Dr Adel Taleb Al-Tabtabaei; the President of the International Jury of the Prize, and Ambassador of Kuwait to Canada, Dr Al-Haroun; and the Dr Al-Nafisi, Ambassador of Kuwait to UNESCO, for their great help and support. The President of the General Conference, Mr Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Sultanate of Oman to UNESCO was also present to this Prize-giving ceremony, which closed with a series of songs performed by the choral scholars “Handi-Voix”.

After the ceremony, His Royal Highness, the Emir, and the Director-General received the Ambassadors of Arab States to UNESCO.

Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N°194-2006 -  Publication Date: 05-12-2006

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