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159TH SESSION OF EXECUTIVE BOARD CLOSES REINFORCING UNESCO'S ROLE IN BASIC EDUCATION
 
  Paris, May 26 - The 159th session of UNESCO's Executive Board, chaired by Sonia Mendieta de Badaroux (Honduras), ended today after adopting decisions which endorsed the reform process launched by Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and voiced unqualified support for the Organization's reinforced commitment in favour of basic education and increased funding for this sector.
 
  In her closing remarks, Ms Mendieta de Badaroux expressed the Executive Board's "determination to put UNESCO back on track" by supporting the Organization's reform process and declared: "Work on the reform of UNESCO has substantially progressed since it was started a few months ago and […] we have every reason to pitch our hopes high on subsequent developments".
 
  Delegates welcomed UNESCO's role, confirmed at the World Education Forum in Dakar in April, to be the lead agency in a UN-wide effort to help States provide basic education for all by the year 2015.
 
  According to the Director-General - who presented the results of the World Education Forum and their implications for UNESCO, during the session - priorities defined in Dakar "have to be rapidly translated into education policies and strategies ensuring quality education for all - girls and women, marginalised and vulnerable groups - through formal schooling and adapted non-formal and lifelong education". To achieve this, he stressed the need to reinforce co-operation with non-governmental organisations, other United Nations agencies, the donor community, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and Member States which will remain "in the driver's seat", he said.
 

  Mr Matsuura defined UNESCO's role in the global drive for education for all as "leadership through partnership." He declared: "The necessary technical and financial assistance must be available to all our Member States without exception", and said he was determined to make the follow-up of Dakar "the top priority in UNESCO's programme and budget and to place education for all at the heart of our programme." He called for a massive mobilisation of resources "including debt relief and/or debt cancellation schemes" in favour of education for all.

 
  Underlining that commitment, the Board attributed some US$3 million in additional funding to basic education out of savings of over US$10.7 million, redeployed to strengthen the programmes.
 
  The session that ended today endorsed the reform programme launched by the Director-General since he took office six months ago. The Board notably supported measures taken to reduce higher level posts in order to achieve a more balanced post structure, develop staff training, prepare to set up a single oversight service and rationalise UNESCO's field office strategy.
 
  The Executive Board reviewed the bidding by several Member States to host the newly created UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and approved the selection of Montreal (Canada) as a choice for the UIS, pending the conclusion of an appropriate agreement between UNESCO and Canada. The Institute was established last year to provide policy-relevant, timely and reliable statistics in the fields of education, science and technology, culture and communication.
 
  During the session, on May 17, the Executive Board held a thematic debate on UNESCO in a Globalising World on the initiative of the Chairperson of the Executive Board, Sonia Mendieta de Badaroux, with the participation of Jean-Claude Trichet, Governor of France's central bank; Kuwaiti writer Mohammed Al Romaihi; and Luc Montagnier, President of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention. The debate highlighted the potentials and dangers to societies of the economy-driven globalisation process underway.
 
  The 58-member Executive Board, whose 159th session opened on May 15, meets twice a year to oversee the implementation of the programme and budget adopted by UNESCO's General Conference which is convened every two years.
 
For more information:
contact the World Education Forum media co-ordination office
at tel (221) 826 80 52 or (221) 641 8281
or email a.muller@unesco.org
WEBSITE: www.education.unesco.org/efa
 
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