He said that the event stood as a “genuine landmark” and signalled the beginning of reinforced cooperation in higher education. The Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Mr Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, also attended the closing ceremony.
The Director-General announced that the UNESCO World Conference had given impetus to new partnerships and initiatives aimed at strengthening higher education across the world, and especially in Africa. He referred in particular to new commitments to bolster south-south collaboration and expand public-private partnerships in support of educational excellence. “Such cooperation channels are the way of the future”, he said.
The Director-General applauded the Conference’s adoption by acclamation of a strong communiqué, which he said would guide international action in the years to come. “The communiqué recognizes the strategic role of higher education by calling on governments to devote sufficient resources to this sector while also encouraging diversification. This is crucial, and all the more so as we navigate through the economic crisis. Higher education systems must be expanded and strengthened to provide learning opportunities to all students regardless of their background”, Mr Matsuura stated.
The Director-General highlighted the emphasis given to equity and quality, which he argued must be developed hand in hand. He also underscored the importance of flexibility and innovation. “We need to explore new approaches to learning, teaching and research, to build more open pathways between learning and work, and to fully leverage information and communication technologies”, Mr Matsuura enjoined.
In all these areas, the Director-General underlined the importance of cooperation. “Cooperation is an absolute necessity for establishing regional higher education areas, for counteracting brain drain, for ensuring quality and, fundamentally, for fostering peace and development”.
Highlighting the need for systematic follow-up to the communiqué, the Director-General pledged that “UNESCO stands ready to assume its role and meet the Call for Action”. He said that the Organization would continue to work closely with governments and other partners to strengthen their tertiary institutions and policies and to build regional centres of excellence. He also signalled UNESCO’s role in continuing to promote and implement standard-setting instruments, in particular the new generation of regional conventions for the recognition of qualifications, in monitoring trends and encouraging the sharing of knowledge and innovations. “Our aim is clear: to act now, building on the knowledge, the networks and the partnerships that have brought us here today”, the Director-General affirmed.
“I am confident that this Conference has given each one of us new insights, led to new connections, reaffirmed a common vision and above all recommended strategies to achieve dynamic and responsible institutions of higher education that will benefit learners and the future of our societies”, Mr Matsuura said in conclusion.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 139-2009 - Publication Date: 09-07-2009