Director-General participates in Dialogue session on the Role of Monarchs in the Development of Science and Technology in Nigeria

Director-General participates in Dialogue session on the Role of Monarchs in the Development of Science and Technology in Nigeria
  • © UNESCO/N. Burke

On 20 March, the Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, participated at a dialogue session on the Role of Monarchs in the Development of Science and Technology in Nigeria.

Present at the session were His Imperial Majesty Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the Ooni of Ife, His Royal Majesty Alhaji Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano and His Royal Majesty Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha. The three monarchs represent the main mother tongues in the country – Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa – and about eighty-five percent of the country’s population.

The Director-General commended the monarchs on their engagement in decision-making at the national and local levels, as well as their commitment to helping to build peace and prosperity in the country through the encouragement of social cohesion, mutual understanding and cultural diversity. He underlined the importance of the decision of the monarchs to focus on promoting science and technology given the recommendations taken by African Heads of State and Government at the 8th session of the African Union Summit, which took place in Addis Ababa in January this year. “The Summit, which I had the honour to attend, has given major new impetus to efforts to strengthen scientific capacity on the continent. Among the many important actions taken, was the decision to declare 2007 as the launching year of building constituencies and champions for science, technology and innovation in Africa. Your Majesties’ new initiative to promote science and technology in Nigeria is one of the first answers to this call by the African Union”, he said.

Regarding the intention of the monarchs to encourage the use of Nigeria’s main mother tongues in the teaching of science and technology, the Director-General welcomed the approach and expressed his support for it. “I believe”, he said, “that your new initiative can help to build on and expand this progress, especially in terms of mobilizing Nigeria’s rich cultural and linguistic diversity in support of the development of science and technology”. He underlined the importance the UNESCO places on mother tongues, not only as a part of a group’s identity, but also as a means of meeting international development goals inasmuch as they enfold and convey local knowledge and practices and their protection is therefore central to the sound management of natural resources and environmental sustainability for example.

Prior to the dialogue session, the Director-General had the opportunity to meet with the monarchs in order to discuss concretely how they intend to carry out their role of advocating science knowledge for development. He was informed that plans were already underway for the creation of a Yoruba Academy of Science and Technology in the Western parts of Nigeria. Similar plans are being developed for an Igbo Academy of Science and Technology in the Ibo in the Eastern parts of Nigeria, and for a Muslim Academy of Science and Technology in Northern Nigeria. The Director-General congratulated the monarchs on these initiatives and said UNESCO stands ready to provide help in realising them, especially through the framework of the UNESCO Special Plan of Cooperation with Nigeria, a large component of which is the Science and Technology Forum for Parliamentarians.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N°043-2007
  • 23-03-2007
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