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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
African parliamentarians join forces to strengthen education

02-12-2002 11:00 pm Dar-es-Salaam - African parliamentarians from 45 countries have joined forces to strengthen education across the continent, in the quest to achieve education for all by 2015, the goal set at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal (April, 2000). They will work through the new Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education (FAPED), created at a five-day meeting that ended in Dar-es-Salaam today. During the meeting the participants defined the new Forum's strategies and goals, established the secretariat - which will be housed at UNESCO's office in Dakar, Senegal - and set out a four-year programme and budget. They also adopted the Declaration of Dar-es-Salaam, which recognizes education as "the biggest challenge for Africa, the key to progress, individual and social well-being and peace" and that "ignorance and illiteracy are obstacles to development and the constitution of democratic societies."

The over-riding objective of FAPED, which is open to all 53 African nations, is to sensitize parliamentarians and, through them, communities, to education issues, thus mobilizing more support from the grassroots up. "Each day we are faced with the gaps and imperfections of our education policies and systems," said Forum Chairman Oumar Sarr of Senegal. "We cannot remain passive in front of this situation. We must act."

The Forum members pledged to revise national laws to recognize education as a basic human right; to mobilize human, material and financial resources to achieve universal primary education; to improve teachers' welfare; to give special attention to girls' and women's education; to encourage access to new information and communication technologies; to fight AIDS, drugs and other health issues seriously affecting the continent; and to promote education for peace.

"Over and above these particular actions and functions, however, are two fundamental challenges that parliamentarians must address if they are to make a real difference," UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura told the Forum at the closing ceremony today. "First there is the challenge of leadership […] Without real political will, too often we are left with eloquent but empty pledges, promises that are never kept. Second, there is the challenge of building consensus. This is indeed a challenge due to the tendencies towards partiality, disagreement and rivalry in the political realm. For the sake of education these tendencies have to be faced and overcome. If not, it will be difficult for education to become a truly national project."

The Forum was first proposed by Senegal and Mauritius. It is supported by UNESCO and several other agencies, including the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and UNICEF, along with the World Bank, the African Union, the African Parliamentary Union and the African Development Bank. FAPED's General Constitutive Conference preceded the eighth meeting of African Education Ministers - MINEDAF - which officially opens here today.

Contact: Sue Williams
Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Email: s.williams@unesco.org
In Dar-es-Salaam (+255) (0)7 44 61 30 74

Jasmina Sopova: Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
In Dar-es-Salaam (+255) (0)7 44 61 30 74

Source Press Release No.2002-96

 ID: 7928 | guest (Read) Updated: 23-01-2003 2:55 pm | © 2003 - UNESCO - Contact