Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka

Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences a.i.

Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences

Contact information

1 rue Miollis 75732 Paris France
Tel.: +33 (0)1 45 68 37 33
Fax: +33 (0)1 45 68 57 20
E-mail: la.benbarka(at)

Ms Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Africa, and acting Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, took office on July 2010 within the context of the Organization’s reinforced and effective action for the continent which, along with the gender equality, is a global priority of UNESCO. She is a leading figure in the implementation and reform of education policy throughout Africa.

A champion of education as a means of driving Africa’s long-term economic development, Ms Ben Barka's expertise centres on extending provision, strengthening educational structures, securing investment, accessing technology and challenging traditional attitudes, not least to women's education.

After gaining degrees in both Education and Psychology from the University of Paris X, Ms Ben Barka worked briefly in France as a psychologist before returning to Africa to teach in Morocco and Mauritania. She later gained a PhD in Education at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Malian by birth, Ms Ben Barka worked as head of Mali’s Women’s Promotion Division of the National Directorate of Functional Literacy and Applied Linguistics (DNAFLA) and the Programme Décennal de Développement de l'Éducation (PRODEC).

In 1998, Ms Ben Barka was appointed Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Six years later, she took on the role of Director of UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Education in Africa in 2004, providing intellectual, strategic and operational leadership for programmes promoting education across sub-Saharan Africa. In acknowledgement of her on-going contribution to education, Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka was awarded the UNESCO Literacy Prize in 1993.

Ms Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka re-joined UNECA in September 2007 as Deputy Executive Secretary, bringing with her a great wealth of experience to help the Commission in fulfilling its mandate and mission in support of Africa’s development agenda.

In October 2013, Ms Ben Barka was honoured with the Doctorate Degree by AFE BABALOLA UNIVERSITY, Ado-Ekiti (Abuad), Nigeria.

In August 2014, UNESCO’s Director-General appointed Ms Ben Barka as acting Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences.

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