28.10.2011 - UNESCO Office in Brasilia

Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme in the 36th UNESCO General Conference


The UNESCO Brasilia Office director, Vincent Defourny, presents the Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme, during the UNESCO General Conference, in Paris, this Saturday, 29 October 2011. The programme was designed to promote Education of ethnic-racial relations in Brazil.


Defourny talks about Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme during the event that will discuss the "promotion and the dissemination of the General History of Africa" and the "Role of the African Diaspora to Mankind", between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

  • The General Conference, which lasts until November 11, brings together representatives of all UNESCO Member States, associate members and observers to define the guidelines of the Organization’s action plans, as well as its strategic programme and budget.  

At the meeting, besides the Brazilian initiative, more detailed topics will be discussed such as the challenges of the pedagogical use of the General History of Africa Collection, the results of the experts’ meeting for the construction and use of pedagogical materials in African countries (held in Zimbabwe in September) and actions relating to the international Year of the People of Afro-descent.

Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme aims at promoting the importance of recognizing the intersection of African history with that of Brazil – the largest country of the African Diaspora –, in order to transform the interracial relationships between the various ethnic groups coexisting in Brazilian territory.  

Today, the programme is working in the production of pedagogical materials on African and African-Brazilian histories and cultures in all levels of Basic Education. The materials are intended to be distributed to schools throughout the county, and they are expected to be launched in 2012. The goal is to support the implementation of the National Law 10639/2003, which concerns the teaching of African and African-Brazilian histories and cultures in Brazilian schools. The material will collaborate with the development of educational practices based on promoting the right to difference and the respect for racial and ethnic diversity.   

Such materials are based on the UNESCO General History of Africa Collection, launched in Portuguese at the end of 2010, funded by the Ministry of Education in Brazil. In response to a long time request of the Black Movement in Brazil, this Portuguese edition with almost 10 thousand pages divided in 8 volumes is the result of a thirty-year research. The volumes are freely available online, which have been downloaded 360 thousand times during the period between December 2010 and September 2011 at UNESDOC database in UNESCO portal. Seven thousand printed sets of the collection have been distributed freely by MEC for public libraries and public higher education institutions, as well as to non-profit organizations across the country. Brazil-Africa: Crossed Histories Programme also performs monitoring actions and organizes discussions on the implementation of the National Law 10639/2003.  

"The very existence of the law shows that the country had made important progress towards the promotion of racial equality in recent years," says UNESCO Brasilia Office director, Vincent Defourny. According to him, the programme adds efforts in this direction, contributing to the recognition of role of African culture and history in the formation of Brazilian society. This enhances the respect for differences and strengthens the fight against the different forms of discrimination. For him, this is a way to promote the growth of equality in the country. "The recognition of cultural diversity is the key to a development that ensures full access to all human rights," he says.

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