Multicultural education for global citizenship at the heart of Government of Andorra’s priorities
During her official visit to the Principality of Andorra on 20 and 21 July, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, met senior representatives of the Government of Andorra, in the presence of H.E. Ms Maria Ubach Font, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Andorra to UNESCO, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Andorra’s admission as a member of UNESCO.
At their meeting, H.E. Mr Antoni Martí, Prime Minister of Andorra, highlighted his country’s commitment to the Organization’s priorities, particularly the fields of education and culture.
“We wish to be fully present in UNESCO and remain deeply committed to the fields that lie at the heart of our societies’ development.”
He referred to his country’s pride in being involved in the Global Education First Initiative launched by the United Nations Secretary-General, under UNESCO’s stewardship. Irina Bokova congratulated the Prime Minister on his country’s involvement in the Initiative and invited him to attend the high-level event held for the Initiative’s Champion Countries, including Andorra, during the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, on 24 September 2014.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the importance of enhancing the cultural and natural heritage, recalling that the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley cultural and natural site, included in the World Heritage List in 2004 and covering four communes, occupied 10% of Andorra’s territory, and he restated the commitment of the authorities at the highest level to finalize in coming weeks the management plan requested by the World Heritage Committee.
“The Government and the four local administrations are actively involved in taking on greater responsibility for the preservation and protection of the Valley for future generations”, said the Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister emphasized Andorra’s experience also of providing public free education, encompassing three education systems – Catalan, Spanish and French – and its role in chairing the Council of Europe from November 2012 to May 2013, during which Andorra laid emphasis on education as a key vector for developing democratic values and global citizenship. He confirmed his Government’s commitment to multilingualism and multiculturalism. That approach had been reflected in the Andorran Government’s endeavours in submitting the joint nomination file to the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage, together with France and Spain, on the Pyrenean summer solstice tradition, which would be considered for possible inscription in 2015.
During her meeting with H.E. Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Andorra, and H.E. Ms Roser Suñé Pascuet, Minister of Education and Youth, the Director-General congratulated the Government on its sustained commitment to multicultural and multilingual education, seeking to foster global citizenship and democratic values, following Andorra’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
“I hope that the very specific experience that Andorra has gained in this field will enrich its contribution among the Champion Countries of the Global Education First Initiative so it may be shared with the other Champion Countries and be fed into global reflection on education in the context of the global post-2015 sustainable development agenda”, said Irina Bokova.
Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunyé described a number of initiatives promoted by his country, in particular in Nepal, Cambodia and Bolivia, to support technical and vocational education and the use of new information and communication technologies in education. Likewise, the Minister spoke of the emphasis placed nationally on groups in difficulty, in particular regard to access to primary education for all.
“Our educational and societal model is linked to our institutional experience and our country’s history, which reflects the many contributions and the cultural and linguistic diversity of the people who have forged Andorran identity”, said Mr Saboya Sunyé.
He stressed the importance that Andorra attached to the Global Education First Initiative in order to build synergy among countries for the sharing of knowledge and experience and for “formulating joint strategies conducive to the emergence of general consensus on the challenges of global citizenship education, inclusive of democratic values”.
“Our main aim is for our citizens to be able to look to the future and its challenges”, said the Minister of Education, Ms Roser Suñé Pascuet, highlighting the priority given to quality education and stressing innovation and the experience acquired by Andorra in bringing the country’s three education systems into line.
In that regard, the use of four languages in the Andorran education system (Catalan, French, Spanish and, to some extent, Portuguese) was noted as a major asset in building learners’ capacities and their awareness of the values of cultural diversity and global citizenship.
Ms Roser Suñé Pascuet recalled that multicultural and multilingual education conducive to integration and social inclusion remained the founding principles of Andorra’s education policy in the light of its history and population in recent decades. She spoke of the progress achieved by her Ministry in implementing pilot projects on the use of new technologies for learning from the primary level. “Owing to the relatively small size of the country, it is easier for us to experiment”, said Ms Roser Suñé Pascuet.
Irina Bokova congratulated the senior representatives of the Government of Andorra on “their resolute commitment to education and cultural identity in developing quality education, thereby encouraging social mobility and justice”. “There can be no global education that does not take account of the multiculturalism that characterizes our societies”.
The Director-General underlined also the crucial role of culture in ensuring the sustainability of development and the growing support of many countries for the importance of culture and the cultural sector to economic growth, integration and social inclusion, to be acknowledged in the post-2015 global development agenda.
The Minister of Culture, Mr Albert Esteve Garcia, informed the Director-General of the efforts made by the Government and his own Ministry to move towards finalizing the management plan for the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley site pursuant to the World Heritage Committee’s decision to give site access to inhabitants and to tourists, to protect the site by zoning its various parts and natural and cultural components and to develop rural lodges.
The Minister expressed the wish to develop the safeguarding of Andorra’s intangible cultural heritage and touched on the joint effort by Spain, France and Andorra to submit the multinational file on the Pyrenean summer solstice tradition for consideration by the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage in 2015. Irina Bokova congratulated the Minister on the cooperation between the three countries at Andorra’s initiative, and commented on the significance of safeguarding to the sustainable development of the Pyrenees region.
The Director-General also met the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Andorra’s Parliament, Mr Vicenç Mateu Zamora and Ms Monica Bonell Tuset, and visited the Parliament.
The visit continued with a meeting with the four mayors of the world heritage site of the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley. On this occasion, the Director-General congratulated the senior government members on the parity achieved in the Parliament – and in the Ministry of Justice – stressing that great efforts to achieve equality were yet to be made in most countries as regarded equality.
During her official visit, the Director-General opened the fourth Art Camp, held as part of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022) -- an exhibition of artists from 31 countries, alongside the Mayor of Ordino, Mr Ventura Espot, Ms Elisenda Vives, President of the Andorran National Commission for UNESCO and Mr Jean-Michel Armengol, its Secretary-General. Ms Hedva Ser, UNESCO Artist for Peace and sponsor of the exhibition, was also present, and when her sculpture “The Tree of Peace” was unveiled. Ms Bokova flew over Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley world heritage site, and then met representatives of the Valley’s association of private landowners.
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