In 2018, UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Ghana will celebrate the 25th celebration of World Press Freedom Day in Accra. The main conference will be held from 2 to 3 May, where close to 700 participants and experts on freedom of expression will convene under the global theme of Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and The Rule of Law. They will cover issues of media and the transparency of the political process, the independence and media literacy of the judicial system, and the accountability of state institutions towards the public. The International Day will also examine contemporary challenges of ensuring press freedom online. It will be the first time Ghana will host the main conference and more than ten years since it was held on the African Continent.
More information about the Day and the events can be found on the dedicated website.
UNESCO Accra was established in the year 2000 as a Cluster Office covering 6 countries in the West Africa Region. Following the conclusion of the UNESCO Field Offices Reform, in 2014, UNESCO Accra has transformed itself into a national office focusing its activities on Ghana alone. The activities of the UNESCO Accra National Office fall within the programmatic framework of UNESCO covering all domains of UNESCO’s mandate in the areas of: Education; Culture; Natural and Social and Human Sciences; and, Information and Communication. In cooperation with the Regional Office for the ECOWAS Region based in Abuja, under which geographical area it falls, the UNESCO Accra Office works closely with the Ghana National Commission for UNESCO and the Government of Ghana in building strategic partnerships and initiatives, leading to creating and reinforcing policies and programmes aimed at achieving national targets and UN development goals as contained in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) Agenda 2030.
The focus of the Education Sector of UNESCO Accra in recent times is on enhancing girls’ access to, participation and achievement in education. More specificially, the overall gender inequality in education systems and the low participation and underperformance of girls in science-related programmes are being addressed.
Through the UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education Project, the Sector has been making tremendous efforts through policy advocacy and institutional capacity strengthening to address the issues that affect girls’ access to quality of education. Since the inception of the project in 2016, 80 (eighty) Girls Education Officers of the Ghana Education Service (GES) have been supported to participate in tailor-made capacity-building programmes to enhance their knowledge and skills in project development, resource mobilization, gender and report writing. Similarly, 1,000 (one thousand) girls in primary and junior high schools in three districts (Jasikan, Atiwa and Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa) participated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) clinics to boost their interest in science-related courses. The UNESCO-HNA Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education aims to improve the overall educational attainment of adolescent girls via support on access, participation and achievement in education at post-primary and secondary level.
Through its Natural Science Sector programmes, the UNESCO Accra Office collaborates with the Government of Ghana to implement UNESCO’s intergovernmental flagship programmes such as the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB) and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP). With respect to the MAB programme, the UNESCO Accra Office works closely with the Ghana National MAB Committee, which is hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Results of this collaboration include the designation of Lake Bosomtwe as Ghana’s third Biosphere Reserve in 2016.
The successful implementation of the Green Economy in Biosphere Reserves project in the Bia Biosphere Reserve was because of the good collaboration with MAB National Committee and other partners.
The office will support the Water Research Institute (WRI) and the Water Resource Commission (WRC) to revive the National IHP committee and to apply Integrated Water Resource Management and Ecohydrology approaches to improve the resilience of Ghana’s water resources. On the themes of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEMS), our major partners are the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of Ghana (CSIR-STEPRI) and the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI). Immediate past collaborations include the organizing of the High Level Policy Makers Dialogue for African Ministers and Legislators in 2015 on the theme “Mobilizing STI for Sustainable Development of Africa”. In 2016, the Office supported CSIR-STEPRI to organize an International Innovation Conference on the theme “Development Innovation: Putting the Pieces Together”.
UNESCO’s overarching objective is protecting heritage, fostering cultural diversity and creativity and supporting intercultural dialogue towards a culture of peace. To be able to meet this objective, UNESCO works together with a wide range of actors, including the Government of Ghana to ensure that culture is part of development strategies and agenda since no sustainable development can ignore culture as an integral component. In July 2015, the Ghanaian Parliament ratified six UNESCO Conventions on Culture to protect as well as promote the cultural heritage of the country. Cultural heritage can be both tangible and intangible, and is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. An example of a UNESCO World Heritage in Ghana are the forts and castles in the Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western Regions.
In addition, UNESCO promotes the teaching of African History in schools and provides support to cultural initiatives and projects all over Ghana. Some examples include, among others, the Ghana Culture Forum, the annual Black Star International Film Festival, AKWAABYTES exposition (2015), and the Impact Music Conference (2017).
UNESCO supports and promotes the diversity of cultural expressions, the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage and the development of cultural and creative industries in all its aspects. Creativity supports the development of societies that are open, inclusive and pluralistic in nature. An understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of different communities helps with intercultural dialogue, and encourages mutual respect for other ways of life. It is also important to document the wealth of knowledge including indigenous knowledge and facilitate the transmission of skills from one generation to the next.
UNESCO is the only UN agency mandated to promote the free flow of ideas and information. In this regard, the Organization supports the universal access to information and ICTs as well as encourages the expression of pluralism and cultural diversity in the media and world information networks. Furthermore, UNESCO promotes press freedom and the safety of journalists via the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, a multi-stakeholder framework to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations.
Through capacity building trainings, advocacy, awareness raising and research UNESCO fosters freedom of expression and freedom of information, two fundamental cornerstones of democracy and good governance. The Organization’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) has provided significant contributions to the Ghanaian media landscape, more specifically in print with the Ghanaian Chronicle newspaper and in radio with the set-up of several community radio stations throughout the country.
Today in Ghana, UNESCO is closely associated with the National Media Commission the Ghana Journalists Association, the Media Foundation for West Africa and other allied institutions to enhance the gains of freedom of expression. Important International Days that are observed in the country are World Radio Day, World Press Freedom Day and International Day to End Impunity, among others. .