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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
Education is part of the solution, UNESCO Director-general tells African education ministers

02-12-2002 11:00 pm Dar-es-Salaam - What must Africa do to achieve education for all of its peoples by 2015, the deadline set at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal (April, 2000)? This question will be at the heart of the Eighth Conference of African Education Ministers (MINEDAF VIII, December 2-6), which was inaugurated here today by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa. Education ministers and representatives from 51 African nations are attending the conference, which is organized by UNESCO in cooperation with the host country and the African Union.

"Developing countries, especially those in Africa, will increasingly be marginalized if they do not adequately and wisely invest in education to keep pace with the changing world," President Mkapa told participants during the opening ceremony. "Africa should establish better management systems in respect of funds received from development partners. But is it also imperative that our partners realize that local capacity to sustain the programmes we build together has to be developed before ending donor support."

UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura pointed to the difficulties facing education authorities throughout the continent. "Addressing Africa's educational challenge," he said, "involves not a stroll in the foothills but scaling a real Kilimanjaro. Education," Mr Matsuura said, "is very much at the mercy of forces outside its control," such as conflict, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and poverty. "Nonetheless," he stressed, "education is not simply a victim, but is also part of the solution."

The Director-General called on all African education ministers, along with the other United Nations agencies, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations attending the conference to "participate actively" in the upcoming United Nations International Decade for Literacy (2003-2012), which he considers one of the "key mechanisms towards achieving the goals" of the Dakar World Education Forum. "Literacy in Africa, especially for African women and girls, must be a priority in all our actions."

During the conference, the participants will discuss the following themes:

* Changes in education to meet regional commitments in the context of the African Union and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
* Strategies for universalizing education for children and adolescents
* Issues and strategies for the promotion of adult education in the context of lifelong learning
* Issues and strategies in secondary and higher education
* Improving the relevance and quality of education
* Mobilizing and managing resources for the implementation of Education for All (EFA)
* Regional Co-operation in Education

Several special sessions will also be held on the problems created by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, education in countries in emergency situations, in conflict and post-conflict, new information and communication technologies, early childhood development, multilingualism, micro-science and the participation of civil society.

The conference should adopt a Final Declaration and Plan of Action before closing on December 6.

Contact: Sue Williams
Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section
Tel: (+33) (0)1 45 68 17 17
Email: s.williams@unesco.org
In Dar-es-Salaam: (+255) 22 211 24 16

Jasmina Sopova: Bureau of Public Informaton
Tel: (+33) (0)1 45 68 17 17
Email: j.sopova@unesco.org
In Dar-es-Salaam: (+255) 22 211 24 16

Source Press Release No.2002-97

 ID: 7929 | guest (Read) Updated: 23-01-2003 2:53 pm | © 2003 - UNESCO - Contact