In a swirling display of music, dance and youthful energy, Director-General Irina Bokova and the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Muhiddin Mohd Yassin celebrated Hari UNESCO Malaysia on the theme of "Togetherness," in Kuala Lumpur on 24 May, 2015.
"Hari UNESCO Malaysia has special significance in this year when we mark the Organization’s 70th anniversary. The theme of 'Togetherness' stands at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to strengthen humanity as a single community," said the Director-General, who praised the presence of so many young people, youth groups and artists.
"The voices, energy and ideas of young people have never been as important as they are today, in world transforming, getting younger every day."
Ms Bokova highlighted the breadth of Malaysia’s partnership with UNESCO, together with its leadership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that all "testify to a belief in the power of education for tackling poverty and building inclusive prosperity."
Celebrated since 2011, this year’s Malaysia UNESCO Day was staged in the symbolic setting where Malaysia proclaimed its independence on 30 August 1957.
"Since then, Malaysia has progressed from being a commodity-based nation to that of a manufacturing and knowledge based economy," said Mr Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, who serves also as Minister of Education and the President of the Malaysian National Commission for UNESCO.
"All this could not have been achieved if Malaysia was devoid of one critical characteristic that is unity. This simply means that the common bond of being Malaysia binds us together, irrespective of race, religion and socio-economic stature. And as such, this brings about the aptness of our theme today, which is Togetherness."
He further affirmed that "UNESCO’s aspiration has always served as a point of reference for our developmental plans and goals."
The Director-General and the Deputy Prime Minister toured animated booths, featuring youth talents and initiatives, from batik and puppet making to robotics, natural conservation projects, university clubs, community service work, street libraries and story telling.
They also walked through an interactive exhibition, showcasing Malaysia’s rich cultural and natural heritage, spanning the historic cities of Melaka and George Town to the Malu and Kinabalu Parks and the archaeological heritage of the Lenggong Valley; the art of Mak Yong Theatre, four Memory of the World inscriptions and two Biosphere Reserves.
At the close of the event, the Malaysian chapter of the YESPeace Network (Youth for Education Sustainability and Peace Network) was launched, an initiative of UNESCO’s Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, based in India.
Malaysia is hosting the third meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board of the United Nations Secretary-General, which opens on 25 May.