“Education is crucial to Tunisia’s future”, said President Moncef Marzouki when he met the Director-General of UNESCO at a side event at the General Assembly of the United Nations today, 23 September 2014. The Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, conveyed to President Moncef Marzouki her disquiet about the situation in many countries in the Arab States region and, in particular, the plight of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Irina Bokova then stressed the depth of the crisis and the seriousness of the intolerance and denial displayed towards the diversity of cultural and religious communities. “UNESCO will redouble its effort to support education in transition and conflict countries now that it is becoming increasingly important to be mindful of the importance of respect for cultural and religious diversity and to work to build a culture of peace”.
President Marzouki informed the Director-General that a regional conference of authorities and representatives of various religions would be held in Tunis on 30 September 2014 in order to consider the issue of extremism. He described the situation today as an epidemic of extremism and stressed the need to protect the new generations from that scourge.
“Religion must be dissociated from politics. Religion and politics must remain autonomous”, he said.
The importance of the educational revision of history textbooks was highlighted against that backdrop.
The President also informed the Director-General that a comprehensive strategy was to be formulated in the coming months in order to strengthen the country’s education system and that Tunisia was relying on UNESCO’s supportive expertise in that primordial task.
Irina Bokova thanked the President for his trust in UNESCO and assured him of the Organization’s full support, stressing that UNESCO’s experts had already begun an initial assessment of the various components of the education system.