United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Director-General of UNESCO addresses 8th OIC Coordination Meeting of Education Ministers

On 8 October 2009, UNESCO’s Director-General, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura, opened the 8th coordination meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Education Ministers at Headquarters, together with Dr Hatem Ben Salem, Minister of Education of Tunisia and Chair of ISESCO’s 10th General Conference and Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director-General of ISESCO.

This 8th coordination meeting, organized on the occasion of the 35th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, marked the 40th anniversary of OIC and the 30th anniversary of the UNESCO-OIC partnership, signed in 1979.

Noting that the cooperation with OIC had been reinforced with the signing in 1984 of a cooperation agreement between UNESCO and ISESCO, the OIC specialized institution for education, science and culture, the Director-General highlighted some of the achievements of this longstanding cooperation. The current UNESCO/ISESCO cooperation programme for 2008-2009 concerns 128 projects involving some 5 million US dollars.

The Director-General emphasized, in particular, the joint priority given to basic education, education in post-conflict and post-disaster contexts, adult literacy and skills development. “Much of our efforts for education are concentrated on achieving the six Education for All goals. OIC Member States have demonstrated real political commitment to expanding access to basic education, with important results, in particular in terms of increased primary school enrolment. However, while countries are moving in the right direction, progress is not fast enough to achieve all six EFA goals on target. Poor education quality, persistent gender inequalities and high rates of adult literacy remain serious challenges for many countries, in particular the poorest and those facing situations of conflict or post-conflict”, said Mr Matsuura.

Noting that freedom of expression and respect for religious beliefs were “two complementary principles that cannot be compromised”, the Director-General also underlined the fact that UNESCO and OIC aimed jointly to promote understanding and mutual comprehension through the promotion of international cooperation, especially in education. He mentioned, in this regard, the concrete achievements of the October 2008 Copenhagen Conference on “Education for Intercultural Understanding and Dialogue”, co-organized by UNESCO and the Danish Government, in partnership with OIC, ISESCO, ALECSO, the UN Alliance of Civilisations and other institutions.

Finally, the Director-General highlighted the fruitful cooperation enjoyed with OIC in promoting the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the development of knowledge societies in the countries of the Islamic Conference, as well as media literacy.

In closing, Dr Altwaijri, Director-General of ISESCO, presented Mr Matsuura with the ISESCO First Order Medal, congratulating him on his achievements and praising him for his active role in strengthening the cooperation between UNESCO, ISESCO and OIC.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 190-2009 -  Publication Date: 09-10-2009

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