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The Director-General of UNESCO meets with the Minister of Education of Malaysia to discuss the country’s achievements in education over the past 50 years

The Director-General of UNESCO meets with the Minister of Education of Malaysia to discuss the country’s achievements in education over the past 50 years
  • © UNESCO/N. Burke

On 2 April 2007 the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Malaysian Minister of Education, Mr Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, met at Headquarters to discuss Malaysia’s progress in education since the country gained independence in 1957.

The Minister informed Mr Matsuura of the events being organized to mark this bicentenary, welcoming UNESCO’s active participation. The Minister also spoke of his Government’s vision for the future, referring in particular to the new five-year plan for education, which is aimed at reaching those parts of the population still without access to basic learning opportunities. The plan targets in particular basic education in rural and remote areas, as well as the problem of adult illiteracy. It also focuses on the need to raise the quality of education, proposing the establishment of “centres of excellence” to promote best practices and help raise standards. Malaysia’s goal, the Minister said, was to achieve primary education and literacy for all within the next five years.

The Director-General of UNESCO pointed to the importance of the Government’s high investment in education. “Malaysia now allocates over 8 per cent of GNP to education, which is a commitment that other countries should follow”, he said. Mr Matsuura also spoke of the important role that ICTs can play in improving the access, quality and relevance of education, as well as in teacher training and development. He underlined that the shortage of qualified teachers was one of the major obstacle to reaching the Education for All (EFA) goals. Mr Matsuura went on to signal the support that UNESCO’s specialized education institutes could provide to countries in their efforts to achieve EFA, highlighting in particular the role of IBE in curriculum development, of IIEP in education planning, and of UIL in literacy and lifelong learning. The Minister of Education of Malaysia went on to visit IIEP and IBE after his meeting at UNESCO Headquarters.

Mr Matsuura and Mr Dato’ Sri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein addressed several further issues during their discussions, including: the importance of public-private partnerships in education; the need for greater South-South cooperation – with the Director-General welcoming Malaysia’s proposal to establish under the auspices of UNESCO an international category centre II for South-South cooperation in science, technology and innovation in Kuala Lumpur; and finally the growing cooperation between UNESCO and the South-East Asian Ministers of Education Organization, SEAMEO. In this latter regard, the Director-General happily accepted the Minister’s invitation to participate in the next Conference of the SEAMEO Council, scheduled to take place in Malaysia in March 2007.

Following his meeting with the Minister, the Director-General participated in the opening of the exhibition organized by the Government of Malaysia, “Celebrating 50 years of Malaysia’s Education Accomplishments”. “One of UNESCO’s chief concerns as lead coordinator of the global drive to provide Education for All, is to raise the profile of good practices and promote the sharing of experience. We believe that it is crucial for countries to learn from one another, both within their own region and further afield. By hosting this exhibition, we are therefore pleased to provide an opportunity for others to benefit from Malaysia’s experiences and progress in education”, Mr Matsuura said in his speech.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N°048-2007
  • 04-04-2007
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