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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

The Director-General attends 7th E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting in Bali, Indonesia

From 11 to 12 March 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, attended the 7th E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting in Bali, Indonesia. This was his third official visit to the country.

Mr Matsuura opened the E-9 meeting alongside the vice President of Indonesia, Mr Yusuf Kalla, the Governor of Bali, Mr Dewa Made Beratha, and the Minister of Education of Indonesia, Mr Bambang Soedibyo, who chaired the proceedings. Over 250 participants attended, including Ministers of Education and senior officials of the E-9 high-population countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan) and representatives of multilateral agencies, including the World Bank and UNICEF. The chosen theme of the 7th E-9 meeting was “Improvement of Teacher Education and Training as a Focus of Educational Reform”

“The progress of E-9 countries toward the goals of Education for All will determine in no small measure whether or not they achieved globally”, the Director-General stated in his opening address. Mr Matsuura noted that the E-9 had made significant progress since 2000 towards universal primary education and gender equality. However, he argued that the picture for the other goals was less positive. He highlighted in particular the challenges of literacy – two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults live in the E-9 countries – and quality.

Although quality has many dimensions, the Director-General highlighted the particular importance of teachers. “It is not by chance that this E-9 meeting focuses on teachers as catalysts for change and on the need to improve teacher education and training. It is the foundation for reforming education systems”, he said, arguing that “the global shortage of qualified teachers remains one of the main challenges for achieving EFA”.

The Director-General pointed out that this was a challenge of both quantity and quality. “UNESCO estimates that by 2015, 18 million new primary school teachers will be needed globally – 40% of them, namely more than 7 million, in the E-9 countries alone”, he said. Moreover, he went on, “in far too many countries, teachers’ dissatisfaction with their decline in status, poor working conditions, low salaries, lack of career progression and inadequate professional training has led many of them to leave the profession. Attrition, particularly in the first few years of teaching, is often high”.

Turning to UNESCO’s efforts to address this challenge, the Director-General drew attention to the Organization’s work to promote and monitor the implementation of the joint 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers and the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher Education Teaching Personnel. “These Recommendations set out guidelines and good practices on teachers’ status, their training, working conditions, career progression and involvement in education decision-making through consultation and negotiation”, he said.

In this regard, he referred to the E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting as an opportunity: to share experiences in current practices in teacher training and education; to identify the challenges that remain; and to promote the exchange of knowledge, good practices and lessons learned. He highlighted the following as three possible areas for collaboration among E-9 countries: the attraction, preparation and deployment of teachers; the employment conditions, retention, professional training and career prospects of teachers; and the use of ICTs and open and distance learning for teacher training. “Let us learn from one another and then utilize our improved knowledge of what works to make education more inclusive and of better quality for all learners”, he enjoined.

The Director-General concluded by appealing to E-9 countries to reinforce cooperation. “I believe that the E-9 initiative holds considerable potential as a vehicle and promoter of South-South cooperation, not only collectively among all nine countries, but also through specific bilateral and multi-partner linkages”, he said. The Director-General recognized that since the Cairo meeting of 2003 there had been a renewed sense of purpose and determination among the E-9 group. However, he warned that “we must not lose this momentum, especially now, with just seven years left to the 2015 target date for meeting the Dakar goals”. By working together, the Director-General affirmed, the E-9 countries have “the possibility to make a decisive contribution to education development worldwide”.

In his inaugural address, the Director-General also announced the designation of the Indonesian actress Ms Christine Hakim as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Teacher Education in Southeast Asia. During the special ceremony that followed, the Director-General welcomed Ms Hakim as “a valuable ally in our efforts to achieve quality teaching and learning for all”. She is the first Goodwill Ambassador from Indonesia

The E-9 Ministers and senior officials drew in their deliberations on the outcomes of the one day E-9 expert meeting that proceeded the high-level segment, as well as on national reports on teacher education and training, a draft synthesis report, and the findings of the 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report. An Exhibition of the EFA programme in Indonesia also accompanied the meeting, and was opened by the wife of vice-President Yusuf Kalla in the presence of the vice-President and the Director-General.

In the final “Bali Declaration of the E-9 countries”, E-9 Ministers and senior officials committed to a series of measures aimed at enhancing both the quantity and quality of the teaching force in their respective countries. They also pledged to further enhance the E-9 mechanism as a lever for stronger and more successful and visible South-South cooperation, and agreed to adopt a series of concrete measures toward this end. It was decided that the next E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting would be hosted by Nigeria in 2010.

On the margins of the conference, the Director-General held a series of bilateral meetings. He spoke with vice-President Yusuf Kalla on Indonesia’s efforts to achieve EFA, as well as on the country’s concern to preserve its diverse cultural and natural heritage. Also present at the meeting was the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia, Mr Freddy Numberi.

The Director-General met with the Minister of Education of Nigeria, Mr Igwe Aja-Nwachuku, to discuss plans for the next E-9 meeting, together with other aspects of the growing cooperation between UNESCO and Nigeria.

On 12 March, Mr Matsuura visited the Taman Ayun Temple in the Badung Regency, which is part of the Bali Landscape, a candidate for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List. He was accompanied by the Minister of Culture and Tourism of Indonesia, Mr Jero Wacik, as well as the Head of the Badung Regency, Mr A. A. Gde Agung. During his visit, the Director-General received a presentation of the different natural and cultural sites that comprise the Bali Landscape candidature.

The Director-General was accompanied throughout his visit by the Executive Chairman of the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO, Mr Arief Rachman, and the Ambassador of Indonesia to UNESCO, Mr Aman Wirakartakusumah.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 033-2008
  • 17-03-2008
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