Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow (Senegal)

Mandate: 1970 – 1974

Mr M’Bow was appointed Assistant Director-General for Education in November 1970. He pursued two principal objectives during his mandate: the right to education and the need to reform educational systems, both in industrialized and developing countries. He was subsequently appointed Director-General in 1974, and occupied this position until 1987. He was the first representative of the developing world to head a major international agency.   

Born in 1921 in Dakar (Senegal), Mr M’Bow graduated from the Arts Faculty of the University of Paris and was professor of history and geography in Senegal (1951-1953; 1958-1966). From 1952 to 1957 he was in charge of Fundamental Education in Senegal, with particular responsibility for literacy, social education and community development. He has also played a leading role in several Pan-African cultural congresses.

Mr M’Bow has been a member of his country’s National Assembly and government on three different occasions: as Minister of Education and Culture during the transitional period preceding independence (1957-1958) – a position he left to fight for his country’s independence, as Minister of Education (1966-1968) and as Minister for Youth and Cultural Affairs (1968-1970).

He was elected a member of UNESCO’s Executive Board in 1966. He then became Chairman of the Board’s Programme and External Relations Commission from 1968 to 1970. He represented his country several times at international conferences.

Mr M’Bow is the author of numerous studies on education in Senegalese towns, books on education and Africa, and school textbooks in history and geography. He holds several honours and decorations from various universities, cities and countries.

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