26.03.2011 - ODG

Director-General receives Top Academic Honours in the Philippines

© Red Images - UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova receives the quadricentennial golden cross from Reverend Father Rolando de la Rosa, Rector of the Santo Tomas University, in Manila, Philippines on 25 March 2011

Greeted by throngs of flag-waving school children, the Director-General arrived at Santo Tomas University, the oldest higher learning institution in Asia, to receive the quadricentennial golden cross, a rarely awarded distinction, on 25 March 2011.

“With political and social unrest in the Middle East, natural calamities and economic meltdown, we need to rediscover a renewed sense of being human,” said Reverend Father Rolando de la Rosa, Rector of the University, in his conferment address. “You are a woman of action, an action that proceeds and is nourished by intellectual honesty. Your intellectual honesty, from which derives your commitment to dialogue with others and emphasis on renewed humanism, is what the world needs today.”

Accepting the award, the Director-General stated that “intercultural and interfaith dialogue is simply the best answer to intolerance. It is a force for prevention and for resilience for societies hit hard by economic pressures, disasters or conflict.” Recognizing the vital role of academia in bridging cultures through dialogue, she stated “that there is no better place to speak about these issues than at the University of Santo Tomas.

“New times call for new thinking, but the core challenge today remains to build a singular human community, where all are equally empowered to live lives of dignity and respect… Education lies at the heart of this vision”

The Golden Cross is the highest award granted by the University of Santo Tomas. It is given to persons who excel in the promotion of the arts, humanities and the sciences, or who have distinguished themselves by their total commitment to the service of humankind. “I take this honour with a deep sense of responsibility and a great honour for the Organization that I lead.”

During her visit, the Director-General also received the degree of Doctor of Humanities honoris causa from the Philippine Normal University, a leading teacher training institution since 1901. The degree recognizes Ms Bokova’s achievements, stating that “she personifies a human being’s capacity to transcend the politics of race, gender and beliefs, tempered by her compassionate stance ….for the unempowered and her sensitivity to arts and culture.” Accepting the degree, she stated that “education is the strongest key for unlocking minds, and teachers are the best agents for change.”

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