United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO and ALECSO discuss a new strategy for education development in Arab States

The UNESCO Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, met with the Director-General of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO), Mr Mongi Bousnina, at UNESCO Headquarters on 5 January 2007 to discuss a new strategy to reinforce education development in Arab States.

UNESCO has been closely following the development of this new strategy, which ALECSO is preparing in conjunction with Arab governments to help strengthen and renew education systems in the region. Mr Matsuura has met with Mr Bousnina twice in recent months to discuss the reform proposals, first at UNESCO Headquarters in October, and then again in Cairo, Egypt, in November, on the margins of the 6th High-Level Group meeting on Education for All (EFA) (See Flash Info Nos 163-2006 and 181-2006). At their January meeting, Mr Bousnina presented the Director-General of UNESCO with a preliminary version of the new strategy, as it had been endorsed by ALECSO’s General Conference at its recent meeting in Tunis, Tunisia, in December 2006. Mr Bousnina thanked Mr Matsuura for UNESCO’s help in elaborating this strategy, inviting the Organization to make any additional comments in advance of the preparation of a final document, for submission to the Summit of the Arab League, scheduled to take place in Charm el Sheikh, Egypt, in March 2007.

Mr Matsuura welcomed ALECSO’s initiative as “a significant step forward in mobilizing national and regional commitment to education”. Underlining how important it was for UNESCO to collaborate closely with ALECSO in this work, he drew attention to the sector-wide vision of the strategy, which addresses all levels of education, from pre-school to higher education and research.

The Director-General of UNESCO also informed Mr Bousnina of his recent visits to Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, as well as of his forthcoming trip to Mauritania, noting that he saw many positive signs of increased commitment to education among Arab states (See Flash Info Nos 210-2006 and 212-2006). Mr Bousnina agreed that important progress was being made, with many Arab governments giving much greater priority to education. Moving on to discuss how UNESCO and ALECSO could build on this momentum, Mr Matsuura and Mr Bousnina identified several areas that required specific support, including education planning and the development of technical and vocational education – a major theme of ALECSO’s new education strategy.

Mr Matsuura drew particular attention to the need for increased support to literacy in the Arab region, noting that many states were still a long way from reaching the EFA literacy goal. In this regard, the Director-General of UNESCO informed Mr Bousnina that he would be organizing a regional meeting in Doha, Qatar, from 12-14 March, to help build new partnerships for literacy. This forms part of a series of conferences being organized by UNESCO to address the global literacy challenge.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 001-2007 -  Publication Date: 09-01-2007

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