United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

President of Zanzibar pays an official visit to UNESCO and addresses the 35th session of the General Conference

On 19 October 2009, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Davidson Hepburn, President of the 35th session of the General Conference, and Mr Einar Steensnaes, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Board, received Mr Amani Abeid Karume, President of Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania), at UNESCO.

The President came together with Mr Ismaël Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti (see Flash Info N°209-2009*) to address the Plenary of the 35th session of UNESCO’s General Conference. Mrs Shadya Karume, First Lady of Zanzibar, Mr Haroun A. Seleman, Zanzibar Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Mr George Mkuchika, Tanzanian Minister of Information, Culture and Sports, Mr Seif Ali Iddi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Mr Hassan Omar Gumbo Kibelloh, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the United Republic of Tanzania to UNESCO accompanied the President.

During their bilateral talks, Mr Matsuura and President Karume noted the progress of cooperation between UNESCO and Zanzibar since the Director-General’s visit to Zanzibar in December 2002. They also discussed the conservation problems facing the stone town of Zanzibar and the need to promote and preserve intangible heritage of the island. Mr Matsuura vividly recalled his participation in 2002 in the first graduation ceremony at the University of Zanzibar, and welcomed the fact that the University continued to produce trained human resources for Zanzibar.

In his address to the 35th session of the General Conference, President Karume started by paying a warm tribute to the Director-General, stressing that “Mr Matsuura will be remembered for his visionary and committed leadership”. “He is a statesman of quality whose friendliness, objectivity of judgement and genial capacity to understand others’ point of views have contributed greatly to the respect this organization has earned in the world. He will also be remembered, among other things, for his special interest on Africa and for his actions in response to priority Africa.”

President Karume then took stock of the existing cooperation between UNESCO and Tanzania, highlighting up-stream policy advice and capacity building of Tanzanian institutions and human resources. “We appreciate that UNESCO continues to assist Tanzania through various ways, including technical assistance and institutional capacity-building in sector-wide educational planning, capacity-building for implementation of national education plans in the areas of literacy and teacher training …” He also particularly welcomed UNESCO’s successful participation in UN reform and “Delivering as One” in Tanzania through the UNESCO Dar es Salaam Cluster Office. He noted that UNESCO is leading the Education Sector Management Information System project as well as the review of the national Science and technology policy.

Turning to Education for All (EFA), President Karume noted with satisfaction the remarkable progress so far achieved by Tanzania – “the net enrolment ratio of primary education on the mainland Tanzania stands at 96% and should reach 100% by 2010”, he stressed. He went on to call on the international community to assist countries like Tanzania build on the gains achieved at the primary school level. “The challenge we are now facing is how to scale up post-primary education and technical and vocational training in order to cater for the greatly increased numbers of students graduating from primary education”.

Speaking about the multiple crises – global climate change, energy crisis, food crisis and the financial and economic crisis, President Karume said that these impact more on the poor nations. For him, “more than ever before UNESCO has a critical role to play in sensitizing governments and the international community to look towards the social sector and invest more in education”.

Mr Karume also noted the importance of preserving cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, and appealed for international cooperation in the conservation of the Stone town of Zanzibar, a World Heritage Site.

During the luncheon organized in honour of the visiting Heads of State, the Director-General pledged UNESCO’s continued cooperation to assist Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania) in the Organization’s fields of competence, particularly in the areas of education and cultural heritage preservation.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 208-2009 -  Publication Date: 22-10-2009

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