UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will visit Afghanistan from 17 to 20 May, where she will pledge UNESCO’s support to the country’s peace building and development process, during planned meetings with President Hamid Karzai, senior government ministers, parliamentarians, journalists, educators and students.
Ms Bokova is scheduled to visit the cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2003, where two standing Buddha statues were tragically destroyed in 2001. She will also visit the restoration project for the Islamic citadel of Shahr-e Gholghola, a fortified urban site dating from the 6th century AD. The citadel on this hill site was the heart of the Islamic city of Bamiyan following the decline of Buddhism here from the 8th century AD. Ms Bokova will be welcomed by the Governor of Bamiyan Province Ms Habiba Sarabi, and witness conservation measures undertaken with UNESCO’s support to consolidate the site.
She will express UNESCO’s support for the country’s commitment to expand access to learning, stressing the importance of girls’ and women’s education as a human right and a key to reducing poverty, improving health, raising income and promoting political participation. In Bamiyan, she will visit a literacy class supported by the Enhancement for Literacy in Afghanistan project, which has reached 450,000 learners, 63 percent of them women, since it started in 2008. The project is expected to benefit a further 150,000 learners in the next two months. Ms Bokova will also visit a girls' school in Kabul with the Minister of Education Mr Ghulam Farooq Wardak.
During the visit she will discuss the country’s transformation process with Members of Parliament, the Afghan Women’s Journalists Association, the diplomatic community, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mr Jan Kubis and the UN Country Team. The visit occurs at a crucial time for the country, as it prepares for the Decade of Transformation (2015-2024), wherein the Afghan government will lead the development process with international engagement.