During their meeting, the Director-General and the Ambassador discussed ways in which the cooperation between UNESCO and Indonesia could be enhanced. Ambassador Kunaefi indicated his Government’s admiration for UNESCO’s work, especially in the area of education.
In this regard, he conveyed President Sosilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s appreciation for the letter that Mr Matsuura had sent to the President, on the occasion of the G-20 Summit. The Ambassador underscored that President Yudhoyono fully agreed with the Director-General’s call to invest in education in the context of the current global economic and financial crisis. He informed Mr Matsuura that the Indonesian President had already allocated 20% of the national budget in 2009 for education, which exceeds the budget reserved for national defence.
The Director-General complimented Indonesia for this encouraging measure and expressed his hope that other countries would follow this example. Mr Matsuura recalled that “there is a worldwide expectation that the members of the G-20 will set in motion remedial action to restore global financial stability. However, sustainable economic recovery is unlikely unless several crucial elements are overtly recognized and addressed, paramount of which is investing in those social sectors that are knowledge-based.”
In his letter to all leaders of the G-20 countries, the Director-General stated: “My primary concern is that world leaders should address both the underlying financial and systemic issues, as well as the fundamentals that drive long-term economic development – such as education, which is the bedrock of healthy economies. The objective should be to spend in ways that will both kick-start growth and support more inclusive and sustainable development in the longer term – in other words, to invest out of the crisis.”
“Spending on education is indeed one of the most effective investments a country can make,” argued the Director-General. “It brings positive benefits across the board, from reducing poverty and improving health, to strengthening democracy and driving economic competitiveness. Research shows that each extra year of schooling boosts GDP per capita by 4 to 6 percent. A counter-cyclical injection of resources in education now would not only help spur recovery but also support more vigorous growth in the future and ensure long term stability worldwide.”
Mr Matsuura concluded the letter by calling on the G-20 to “send a clear message to the world that in developing responses to the crisis, such as through stimulus packages and aid, governments must stay the course and invest in the long-term drivers of development, such as education and science, which are essential pillars to promoting stability and ensuring peace.”
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 048-2009 - Publication Date: 27-03-2009