During her official visit to Burkina Faso, the Director-General met with the President of the Republic, H.E. Blaise Compaoré. The discussions highlighted the importance of UNESCO’s work for education, the preservation of culture, scientific cooperation, to strengthen civil dialogue, social cohesion and peace as an essential component to military security action. The President and the Director-General noted especially the importance of this work in several areas of action on the ground, notably in Mali and its neighboring country of Burkina Faso. UNESCO has adopted an action plan with all partners, which all will work to implement.
The Director-General commended President Compaoré’s work for peace, especially in Mali, and indicated that UNESCO's action in the preservation of heritage adds a broader dimension, because culture is the soul of societies, their identity, providing a common sense of belonging, playing a strong role for social cohesion and demonstrating the will to live together.
Within the framework of the official visit, Irina Bokova was awarded the title of Commander of the National Order of Burkina Faso, the country's highest honor -- "for her work at the head of UNESCO, for her commitment to Africa and her fight for peace, especially in the current situation in Mali,” said the Prime Minister, Mr. Luc-Adolphe Tiao.
"I am deeply honored and moved by this award, which reinforces my faith in dialogue and cultural diversity, one of the great strengths of Africa, and which represents a huge potential for peace and development," said the Director-General.
In regard to education, the Director-General underlined the importance of responding to the need to support the education system expressed by the country, especially in terms of post-primary and higher education and the need to strengthen enrollment of girls at these levels. The Director-General also emphasized the importance of the International Center for Girls and Women’s Education in Africa (CIEFFA), which she visited while in Burkina Faso, and its regional role, particularly as an observatory for the education of girls.
In her meeting with Ms. Chantal Compaoré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, the Director-General commended her action and commitment to women and children, which she implements through her Foundation. They discussed also the importance of literacy as well as formal and non-formal education in order to reduce violence against women, and in particular to reduce genital mutilation.
In the field of the sciences, the issue of water was at the center of discussions, as well as the link between water, energy and food security. The Director-General visited the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE) and Water Museum in Loumbila, where she reaffirmed UNESCO’s commitment to provide full support, particularly in the context of the International Year of Water Cooperation, which the Organization is leading. The importance of sound water management for sustainable development was highlighted, especially in the Sahel region. Training teachers and young people in this area was considered essential in this process. The Director-General commended the activities of 2iE in Ouagadougou, a UNESCO Category 2 Centre.
Among other priority areas of cooperation, the Director-General underlined the importance of strengthening the capacity of journalists.