UNESCO has been honoured with an award from the All-Africa Students’ Union (AASU) for its work in higher education on the continent. AASU is an umbrella organization representing 55 universities and institutes of higher learning in all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, including South Sudan, its newest member.
The Ghana-based organization presented the Africa Educational Support Organization of the Year Award to UNESCO at its gala awards dinner in Accra on 31st August.
The Secretary-General of AASU, Fred Awaah, said that UNESCO plays a lead role in one of the top priorities for students: improving ICT-based learning in Africa. “Not all countries can afford top-quality university programmes,” he stated. “But they can all provide top-quality education through Information and Communication Technology. UNESCO is helping us find high-tech solutions for the 21st century.” Mr Awaah went on to say that UNESCO’s convening power is important to students throughout the continent. He remembers particularly a high level meeting in Dakar last November that brought specialists in Quality Assurance together with university administrators and students. “What we learned from that summit has been a source of advocacy for us throughout the continent. We shared the results with all the Student Unions of Africa and got everyone on board.”
UNESCO/ Fred Awaah, Secretarty General of AASU, speaking of UNESCO’s contribution to education in Africa
The award reads: “ALL-AFRICA STUDENTS UNION (AASU) has the privilege of awarding UNESCO in recognition of UNESCO’s outstanding acts, services, and achievements that exemplify and support students/youth organizations in Africa; for empowering millions in Africa and beyond through education; it is therefore with great pleasure that AASU presents UNESCO this prestigious award. The UNION truly appreciates your many years of dedication and commitment to promoting academic, social and cultural enlightenment in Africa and the world over.”
Tirso Dos Santos, the Officer-in-Charge of UNESCO’s office in Ghana, accepted the award on behalf of the Director-General. “I feel very humbled and rather speechless before this gesture, but also proud to witness such a recognition for our humble contribution to the cause of Education, as we pursue our mandate in search for a more just and peaceful World,” he said.
Both Paul Kagama, President of Rwanda and the Government of Ghana were honoured in addition to UNESCO. Dr Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Education, received the first award on behalf of his President, and Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Ghana’s Minister of Youth and Sports, received the second on behalf of his government.
UNESCO / All-Africa Students’ Union delegates before the awards dinner