Director-General welcomes Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to address UNESCO’s General Conference

Director-General welcomes Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to address UNESCO’s General Conference
  • © UNESCO/A. Wheeler

On 23 October 2007, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and Mr George N. Anastassopoulos, President of the 34th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, received Mr Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at UNESCO Headquarters.

The Prime Minister came to address the plenary of the ongoing 34th session of the General Conference.

During the bilateral meeting preceding the Prime Minister’s address at the plenary, Mr Matsuura and Prime Minister Gonsalves discussed the main areas of cooperation between Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and UNESCO, particularly in the field of education. Recalling their last meeting during the Director-General’s official visit to the country in January 2006 (the first official visit of a UNESCO Director-General to the country), Mr Matsuura paid tribute to the remarkable progress made by St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its efforts to achieve universal enrolment both at the primary and secondary educational levels, as well as to improve the number of students in tertiary education.

Prime Minister Gonsalves indeed highlighted the “education revolution” being undergone in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which has resulted in the achievement in 2005 of universal access to secondary education, while the UNESCO-backed Adult Literacy Crusade and Adult Education Programme have greatly reduced the rate of functional illiteracy.

The Director-General also expressed his satisfaction at the launching in September 2007 of the capacity-building project in educational statistics for English-speaking Caribbean countries, which was made possible through extrabudgetary funding with the support of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust.

In his address at the plenary of the 34th session of the General Conference, the Prime Minister underscored the issue of climate change. He expressed satisfaction at the enhanced multidisciplinary approach that UNESCO is adopting for addressing this issue. Recalling the many hurricanes, tropical storms, rising sea levels, and other natural hazards which Saint Vincent and the Grenadines faces increasingly, in common with other islands, Prime Minister Gonsalves insisted on the “grave concern” of small island developing states in the Caribbean with respect to climate change, which has immediate consequences for them.

“It is within us as a global family to mitigate and reverse the most deleterious aspects of climate change,” urged the Prime Minister. “Small islands are microcosms for the challenges which we all face on Planet Earth. If we disappear, the rest of the world will not be far behind,” he concluded.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 152-2007
  • 24-10-2007
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