12.08.2016 - ODG

UNESCO Director-General meets with President Buhari of Nigeria

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, and the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari

On 10-11 August, the UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova visited Nigeria on the invitation of the Federal Ministry of Education. During the visit, the Director-General met with President Muhammadu Buhari, where the latter reiterated Nigeria’s firm commitment to the ideals and goals of UNESCO. Also, President Buhari exchanged views with the UNESCO Director-General on issues of mutual interest, as well as on UNESCO’s achievements and challenges, especially in Africa, with particular reference to the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, recently adopted by the United Nations.

aThe President expressed deep concern about the depletion of Lake Chad and called for UNESCO's assistance for the organization of an international conference to reflect on the future of the Lake and support the preservation of the surrounding environment, an idea welcomed by the Director-General.

In this regard, President Buhari and the Director-General of UNESCO discussed the need to join efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals. The 2030 Agenda for Education (SDG-4), for which UNESCO has been designated lead Agency in its realization, was given particular attention.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Director-General of UNESCO reviewed the current situation in the Sahel region, and referred in particular to the terrorist threat by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, as well as the devastating consequences of the group’s attacks on civilian populations. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Director-General of UNESCO agreed to respond through a multifaceted approach and concerted actions, with a focus on youth education, culture of peace and the Safe School Initiative.

In a meeting with the Honourable Minister of Education, the Director-General reviewed the state of collaboration between Nigeria and UNESCO. Successes of this cooperation were mentioned, such as: the empowerment of girls and women in literacy and skills; particularly within the framework of the self-benefitting project Revitalizing Adult and Youth Literacy in Nigeria 2012-2016 (RAYL); the management of Nigerian biosphere reserves; the revitalization of the Nigerian Science Technology and Innovation (STI) system; the development of National Policy on Science, Technology and Innovation; Nigeria’s active participation in the implementation of the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; and the 2001 UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage; the joint promotion of media and information literacy; and the establishment of the following UNESCO Category 2 Centres: the Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management (RC-IRBM) at the National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna and the International Centre for Biotechnology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The Honourable Minister thanked UNESCO for its active support and expressed the wish for the launching of a new phase of the Nigeria-UNESCO Special Plan of Cooperation, which will include actions on reconstruction of the education system in the North-East as part of the Presidential Initiative on North-East (PINE), teacher training, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for youth entrepreneurship, adult and youth literacy, higher education, second phase of the project on ”Assistance for the Reform of Nigerian Science, Technology and Innovation System”, gender equality, bioethics,  natural heritage (related also to Lake Chad), oceans, General History of Africa, Slave Route, African cinema, fighting youth radicalization and extremism through the internet, community radio and journalism education, Memory of the World, and Open-Educational Resources (OER). Towards this end, both sides agreed that a focused Plan should be developed, with clearly articulated expected results and funding requirements and sources. The Plan shall also be accompanied by measures to enhance the visibility of the cooperation between Nigeria and UNESCO and to disseminating and sharing its results.

The Director-General welcomed the strengthening of the ties between UNESCO and Nigeria, supported by the presence of the UNESCO Multisectoral Regional Office for West Africa in Abuja. In this regard, the Director-General expressed her appreciation to the President for Nigeria’s continuing contribution to the activities of UNESCO and in particular for the additional staff seconded by Nigeria to the UNESCO Office and further expressed the hope that such secondments from relevant line ministries would continue.

The Honourable Minister and the Director-General of UNESCO were very pleased with their meeting and expressed their resolve to continue improving the strong and constructive cooperation between Nigeria and UNESCO.

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