The ceremony was chaired by Mr Abdulsalam El-Qallali, Ambassador of Libya to UNESCO and was attended by Permanent delegates and other dignitaries including Mr Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai, Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board. Also addressing the ceremony were Ms Mary Khimulu, Ambassador of Kenya to UNESCO and Chairperson of the Africa Group, as well as Mr Hassan Omar Kibelloh, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to UNESCO, representing the Chairperson of the African Union.
In his remarks, the Director-General stressed that “Africa is a top priority for UNESCO. All our programmes are targeted at responding to the needs of Africa in alignment with the priorities set by African countries through the African Union and its dynamic NEPAD initiative, as well as through the rich network of regional and sub-regional organizations that has grown up across the continent.”
Mr Matsuura noted that he had just returned from Africa, where he visited Mozambique – where he organized this year’s Press Freedom Celebrations on 3 May, and also participated in the opening ceremony of the 8th biennial conference of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). He also mentioned his visit to Tanzania where he participated in the opening ceremony of the African Regional Conference for the launch of the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE) in Arusha which was organized by Mr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania and the current Chairman of the African Union.
The Director-General went on to say that he would be departing for Japan, to participate in the fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV), which aims to give fresh impetus to international cooperation in support of Africa. In this regard, he noted that UNESCO was particularly engaged in developing proposals for action in education, in line with the vision of reform laid out in the Action Plan of the Second Decade of Education for Africa. “Africa Day is an opportunity to celebrate this spirit of partnership and solidarity, and for UNESCO to reaffirm its steadfast commitment to African development”, he emphasized.
Welcoming this year’s theme for Africa Week, Mr Matsuura said that “African Languages and the African Child”, resonates particularly strongly here at UNESCO, especially in this UN-proclaimed International Year of Languages. As lead agency for the International Year, UNESCO is spearheading a 12-month long campaign to raise awareness of the importance of languages towards achieving our shared goals of peace and sustainable development.” The Director-General highlighted that in August 2008, UNESCO and UNU will be organizing in Tokyo a symposium on globalization and languages, with the participation of world class scholars including those from Africa, such as Mr Adama Samassékou the current President of the African Academy of Languages and Mr Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yai.
After his address, the Director-General visited the exhibition organized by the Africa Group on this occasion.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 065-2008 - Publication Date: 27-05-2008