07.02.2011 - ODG

For Irina Bokova at the World Social Forum “the way out of the crisis is through education”

© UNESCO/Akema James-Sarr - UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova with Abdoulaye Wade, President of Senegal, at the World Social Forum 2011, held in Dakar, on 7 February

On the occasion of her first official visit to Senegal on 6 and 7 February 2011, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, attended the World Social Forum, which is being held in Dakar this year. During her visit, the Director-General held bilateral meetings with President Abdoulaye Wade, as well as the country’s Ministers of Education and Culture.

During her speech at the World Social Forum, Irina Bokova underlined UNESCO’s engagement with the Forum since its inception in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2001, noting that “education, science and culture are strategic policy levers for peace. These are also priority instruments of social justice.”

“UNESCO was very active on these subjects in Porto Alegre in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005, but also in Bamako in 2006 and Nairobi in 2007. It is through education and knowledge that men and women can make informed choices, and really take their own destiny in hand,” she said.

The Director-General recalled that it was in Dakar, in 2000, that the program Education for All was launched under the leadership of UNESCO. “We believe that education is the key to sustainable development and is the number one priority of our action.”

Speaking about the consequences of the economic crisis to the poorest countries in relation with the high average growth rate of countries in Africa, Irina Bokova focused on the potential of African countries and the need to focus on education. She highlighted the example of Senegal, which devotes a significant portion of its budget to education. The Director-General had visited the facilities of the educational program “case des tout petits” (home of the little ones), supported by UNESCO.

“We know perfectly well that only monetary or regulatory answers will not suffice to overcome the crisis. It is also through quality education, through culture, through science, that societies can find their ways to develop, and defend their rights.”

“Africa is a crossroads of global cultural diversity. It knows the successes, it also knows the failures. With globalization, societies are considerably closer together, and if we want to learn to live together, it is here in Africa, that we will find some answers,” she concluded.

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