United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General attends SACMEQ Assembly of Ministers Meeting

On 4 October 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, addressed the 7th session of the Assembly of Ministers of the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ), which was being held at UNESCO’s International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) in Paris.

Launched in 1995, SACMEQ brings together 15 Ministries of Education from Southern and Eastern Africa with the aim of strengthening the capacity of educational planners to monitor and evaluate the quality of their education systems.

At the outset, the Chairperson of the Assembly, the Minister of Education of Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania, Mr Haroun Suleiman, paid tribute to Mr Matsuura for his strong personal commitment to education in Africa throughout his tenure as Director-General and for the constant support UNESCO had provided to SACMEQ since the latter’s foundation. “We are deeply grateful to you; you are leaving behind a great legacy for UNESCO”, the Minister said, speaking on behalf of all SACMEQ Ministers.

The Director-General replied that UNESCO was proud to partner with African Ministries of Education in this important initiative, and warmly congratulated the SACMEQ Consortium for 15 very successful years work. “SACMEQ’s evolution from a small experimental research activity conducted by UNESCO IIEP in a single country, to its current status as an international non-profit development organization, has, indeed, been truly remarkable”, Mr Matsuura stated. He noted that this progress owed a great deal to SACMEQ’s co-operative working style, which he said was “as an excellent example of how regional groupings of countries can work with UNESCO in order to tackle problems of common interest in a fashion that facilitates a planned and systematic transfer of project ownership and management to the participating countries”.

The Director-General referred to the many positive evaluations of SACMEQ’s work over the past years, as well as the Consortium’s receipt in 2004 of the prestigious Comenius Medal in recognition of its significant contribution to educational progress. “SACMEQ’s research and training programmes are making a tremendous contribution to efforts to raise the quality of education across Southern and Eastern Africa”, he underscored.

Looking forward, Mr Matsuura welcomed the plan to return the SACMEQ Coordinating Centre to Africa, assuring Ministers that “UNESCO will do everything possible to facilitate this, and ensure continuity in SACMEQ’s work”. The Director-General also said that UNESCO would do all it could to bring to successful fruition the SACMEQ III project, which is due to be completed in late 2010. This third research and training cycle covers some 3,000 schools across Southern and Eastern Africa.

Following the Director-General’s intervention, Mr Kenneth Ross, Coordinator of IIEP’s Programme of Cooperation with SACMEQ, presented several policy issues related to SACMEQ’s, mandate, membership and funding that had arisen during the previous day’s meeting of the SACMEQ Managing Committee.

The Minister of Education of South Africa, Mr Mohamed Enver Surty, concluded the event with a vote of thanks to Mr Matsuura on behalf of all SACMEQ Ministers.

Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 180-2009 -  Publication Date: 07-10-2009

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