United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Director-General visits Mozambique and awards the 2008 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

From 3 to 6 May 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, paid an official visit to Mozambique where he led the celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day on 3 May in Maputo, Mozambique.

In a ceremony held in the presence of Mr Armando Guebuza, President of the Republic of Mozambique, the Director-General awarded Lydia Cacho Ribeiro, a Mexican reporter, the 2008 UNESCO Press Freedom Prize.

In his address, Mr Matsuura reiterated his commitment in favour of freedom of expression as an essential human right, which remains as important as ever on this 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “It is fitting,” he said, “that this year’s celebration of world press freedom day should take place in Mozambique, a country committed to freedom of the press.” The Director-General went on to praise Mozambique’s cooperation in the community multimedia centres’ (CMC) scale up initiative launched at the World Summit on the Information Society and the number of community radio stations in the country that have become fully fledged CMC that “help reduce the digital gap by providing communities with access to radio, internet and associate technologies.”

“Information is the lifeblood of all political systems,” the Director-General added, stressing the conviction that a well-informed citizenry is essential for the development of good governance and for the fight against poverty. In choosing the theme of empowerment and access to information, Mr Matsuura said, we pay tribute to the men and women who have died in pursuit of truth, and in trying to make that truth known. “The uncomfortable truth is that the majority of them have died in their home, in their cars or in the streets,” he said. “They were not victims of war, they were murdered because they wanted to speak the truth,” added Mr Matsuura, recalling that at least seventeen journalists have been assassinated in Mexico, the country of this year’s UNESCO Press Freedom Prize winner, Lydia Cacho Ribeiro.

During his stay in Maputo, the Director-General held talks with Mr Armando Guebuza, President of Mozambique. They both expressed their satisfaction with the cooperation that exists between UNESCO and Mozambique and pledged to seek ways and means to strengthen the Organization’s programmes in this country. Particular emphasis was given to the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of Mozambique, both tangible and intangible. They also stressed the key role played by the Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) as a vehicle for development of local communities and as a means for empowerment of rural communities in the fight against poverty. Mr Matsuura welcomed the priority that the Mozambican Government was giving to education and pledged the Organization’s technical assistance in UNESCO’s fields of competence. Mr Matsuura concluded his remarks by welcoming the positive cooperation between the UNESCO Office in Maputo and the Mozambican Government.

On 4 May, the Director-General visited Radio Voz Coop, a community radio that was set up in 2002 as part of the Media Project implemented by UNESCO in a district of Maputo Municipality and is run by the União Geral das Cooperativas (General Union of Peasant Women) through a seven-member Executive Committee and counts on 20 volunteers who were trained locally. The radio will be transformed into a full fledged CMC in 2008. Mr Matsuura also paid a visit to Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, an internationally recognized artist who has produced a broad range of work in diverse mediums - from drawings, murals, ceramics and sculpture, to poetry and music.

On 5 May, Mr Matsuura held bilateral talks with Mr Venâncio Simão Massingue, Minister of Science and Technology who made a presentation of his country’s comprehensive strategy for harnessing science and technology for poverty reduction, economic growth, and wealth creation. Mr Simão Massingue stressed the important role played by UNESCO in assisting developing countries to achieve internationally agreed development goals, including Science and Technology. He also paid tribute to the Organization for its country-level action in Mozambique. Mr Matsuura welcomed the initiatives taken by Mozambique in the area of science and technology and pledged UNESCO’s commitment to accompany African countries in policy formulation, capacity building, and the strengthening of scientific research.

In his bilateral meeting with Mr Aires Bonifacio Ali, Minister of Education and Culture, the Director-General expressed his satisfaction with the active participation of Mozambique in the preservation of its intangible cultural heritage, including Timbila Chopi and Gule Wamkulu, Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. They also discussed the progress of the rehabilitation project of the San Sebastian Fortress at the Mozambique Island, a World Heritage Site.

The Director-General attended a working lunch with the United Nations Country Team in Mozambique. The discussions centred on the actions taken by the UN Country Teams (UNCT) in the implementation of One Programme in Mozambique. Mr Matsuura welcomed the strategic inclusiveness approach adopted by the country team, which is crucial for the full participation of Specialized Agencies in the Delivering as One. He also stressed the need for ensuring that national priorities are respected, as well as all internationally agreed development goals, such as the six Education for All (EFA) goals.

In the afternoon of 5 May, the Director-General participated in the opening ceremony of the 8th biennial conference of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). Also addressing the opening of the Conference were: Mr Guebuza, President of Mozambique, the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania who represented President Kikwete, the Chairman of the African Union, and Algerian Minister of Education who represented President Bouteflika, Chair of the AU Cluster on Education.

In his address, the Director-General welcomed the renewed focus on post-primary education in Africa, given the important advances African countries had made in the drive to achieve quality primary education for all. However, Mr Matsuura noted that problems still remained including high dropout rates, quality, in particular with respect to the shortage of trained teachers, low rates of literacy among adults, and limited access to early childhood care and education. With regard to the challenges and approaches to expanding secondary, vocational and higher education in Africa, the Director-General highlighted three fundamental concerns: equity and access, quality and relevance of education and what this means for Africa today, and partnership. Mr Matsuura concluded his remarks by expressing the hope that the ADEA conference would “strengthen the resolve of all here present – whether political leaders, policy makers, representatives of development agencies, researchers or educationists – to work together to provide relevant learning opportunities of high quality to all, and I stress all, across the continent of Africa.”

On 6 May, the Director-General visited the Mozambique Island, accompanied by two of the donor countries’ representatives, the Ambassador of Japan to Mozambique and the Ambassador of Portugal to Mozambique. Mr Matsuura toured the San Sebastian Fortress and also visited the CMC and the Museum located at the Island.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 055-2008 -  Publication Date: 16-05-2008

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