Also present at the opening ceremony were the Minister of Education of Oman, Mr Yahya Bin Saud Al-Sulaimi, the President of UNESCO’s General Conference, Dr Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan, the Director-General of the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, Dr Ali Abdul Khaliq Alkarni and the Chairman of the Executive Board of ALESCO, Dr Hisham Nashaba. Altogether over 100 participants attended the Symposium.
In his opening address, Mr Matsuura warmly congratulated the Sultanate of Oman, and in particular His Majesty Qaboos bin Sa’id Al ‘Bu Sa’id, the Sultan, for organizing the Symposium. “This initiative signals a clear commitment to achieving the Education for All goals, which are at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate”, he said. “It reflects our shared determination to ensure full and equitable access to educational opportunities for all children and adults, as well as to improve the quality of learning which will lead to success”.
Mr Matsuura paid particular tribute to Oman’s many achievements in promoting good quality basic education: “over the past 30 years Oman has made great advances in EFA. In 1970, Oman had 3 schools with 30 teachers for 900 students, and an adult literacy rate of just 34 per cent. Today, there are 1,046 schools employing 37,500 teachers for nearly 570,000 students, and an 80 per cent adult literacy rate”. He praised the Sultanate of Oman for providing the opportunity for other countries to learn from its experience, describing the Symposium as “a stimulus to the whole region” and a valuable “source of inspiration and guidance for other developing countries, especially those in Africa, which still face considerable challenges in EFA”.
The Director-General also drew attention to the Sultanate of Oman’s commitment to harnessing the potential of education for peace and mutual understanding. Mr Matsuura reaffirmed this message in his speech at the inauguration of the accompanying exhibition to the Symposium, showcasing the great success stories in Oman’s efforts to achieve EFA. “Education is a means not only to enable learners to appreciate their own cultural heritage, but also to access that of others”, Mr Matsuura emphasized, continuing, “Oman’s commitment to cultural diversity, dialogue and understanding, sets an example in the region and beyond: namely, that difference should enrich our lives, not separate us”.
In closing, Mr Matsuura expressed his hope that the Symposium would not only provide a platform for sharing experiences and good practices in EFA, but also remind participants of their individual and collective responsibilities in tackling the challenges that still remain. “In education we can never be complacent,” the Director-General underlined.
Auteur(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 197-2006 - Date de publication: 08-12-2006