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UNESCO Liaison Office to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

National Office for Ethiopia

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UN Secretary-General highlights UNESCO’s global leadership in education at Organization’s 40th General Conference
Paris, 12 November—The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, Tuesday morning stressed UNESCO’s essential mandate in education and pleaded in favour of multilateralism as he opened UNESCO’s 40th General Conference addressing representatives of the Organization’s 193 Member States and 11 Associate Members. “Education is an essential pillar to achieve our objectives for 2030. And we are late,” said the Secretary-General. “UNESCO has a fundamental role to play to coordinate and monitor global efforts in this regard. I commend the initiative launched by the Director-General at the UN General Assembly last September on the futures of education.” Warning against the splintering of the international community along economic, social, and environmental divides, growing hate and discrimination, the Secretary-General declared: “We must do everything to maintain a universal system based on international law and preserve a multipolar world with strong multilateral institutions.” “A world of cracks and fault-lines is not sustainable,” said the Secretary-General. “In this context, UNESCO’s work is central to bringing the world together.” He also welcomed UNESCO’s contribution to ethical issues in science and technology and “the fact that this General Conference seems to be close to launching a process towards a global normative instrument about the ethics of artificial intelligence.” After the Secretary-General’s opening, Member States named Ambassador Ahmet Altay Cengizer, Permanent Delegate of Turkey to UNESCO, as President of the 40th session of the General Conference. UNESCO’s vocation to serve as a laboratory of ideas, was highlighted in the introduction to the policy debate by the Organization’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, who denounced the multiple divides that are eroding national and international governance as well as the planet itself. “Contemporary challenges call on us to draw on our shared humanity,” said Ms Azoulay. “They cannot be contained by territorial borders, nor will they find lasting solutions that are not based on cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism.” Denouncing the crippling effect of divisiveness on international governance, the Director-General said that it is our responsibility “to be effective by making multilateralism an everyday reality and by providing evidence that it can lead to better lives.” Ms Azoulay also stressed the importance of education, “the keystone of peace. We must not only correct the insufficiencies and inequalities that education is suffering from, but also improve our guidance of the world’s educational systems in the future, to lay the best foundations of effective, real sustainable development.” The Director-General also highlighted the challenges of harnessing scientific and technological development for the benefit of humanity and the planet, “This is why we ask you [Member States] to develop a shared vision of the ethical questions linked to the development of artificial intelligence, drawing on our networks of experts, on our ability to engage philosophical reflection and on our political legitimacy to launch a global conversation so widely called for.” The General Conference, the governing body of UNESCO which meets every other year to determine the Organization’s programme and budget, also placed multilateralism high on its agenda with a debate between youth and government leaders, (RE)GENERATION, Rethinking multilateralism with young change-makers, on its opening day. The event brought together Xavier Espot Zamora, Prime Minister of the Principality of Andorra, Nikol Pachinian, Prime Minister of Armenia, Félix Ulloa, Vice President of El Salvador, Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia, Egils Levits, President of Latvia, Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of Malta, Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia, Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, Emomali Rahmon, President of Tajikistan, Youssef Chahed, Head of the Government of Tunisia, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and young women and men from all over the world who have demonstrated their commitment to the values of global solidarity in working for more inclusive and sustainable societies. In a lively exchange the young participants urged far greater governmental mobilization to contain climate change, more investment in education, and concerted efforts to ensure that technology is placed at the service of people and their rights. During its 40th session which ends on 27 November, Member States are also set to adopt an international convention destined to facilitate the international recognition of higher education diploma and the free movement of students and faculty. **** More about the General Conference:
Press release
Multi-stakeholder Coordination Platform for Ethiopia Media - Ethiopia Media Sector Alliance (EMSA) Formed
On November 19, 2019, national and international media partners in Ethiopia formed the Ethiopia Media Sector Alliance (EMSA) as a multistakeholder coordination platform, to facilitate effective and joint media development initiatives in the country that will address the challenges facing the online and offline media in Ethiopia. This coordination is also aimed at ensuring that the country has a vibrant media sector, capable of contributing to the development priorities and peacebuilding agenda of the country. “This is an excellent initiative as Sweden and Danida have a new joint programme to support the media reforms in Ethiopia and there is need to strike a good balance among all the actors” said Karin Borovic, First Secretary/programme manager, governance, gender equality, human rights section for bilateral development cooperation, embassy of Sweden in Ethiopia.   In the meeting, representatives of national and international media partners including the Government of Ethiopia, media regulatory bodies (self and statutory), private and public media, civil society coalition, academia, INGOs, AU, UN and Bilateral donors attended. EMSA membership is open for all Ethiopia media stakeholders who have the interest and willingness to collaborate in priority media development initiatives. To facilitate the EMSA coordination, UNESCO and the Ethiopia Media Council were elected as the co-conveners for the next two years, while the co-chairing will be assured by the Ethiopia Broadcasting Authority (EBA), Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organization (CEHRO) and the International Media Support (IMS). In addition, four thematic working groups co-chaired by both national and international partners were established as follows: (i) Freedom of expression, press freedom, access to information, journalists’ safety and welfare of journalists (ii)Legislative and policy reforms (iii)Human and technical capacity building of journalists, journalists associations & networks, media houses and journalism training institutions and (iv) Media and information literacy (MIL). EMSA formation is informed by the opportunities for support to media development, which have been largely availed by the ongoing new reforms in the Ethiopia media sector. As national and international media actors seek ways to contribute to the reform agenda, there is great need to avoid pocket interventions that are disjointed among the Ethiopia media actors, thus minimizing their impact and effectiveness. EMSA will therefore serve as a key locus for strategic discussions among national and international partners supporting media related actions in Ethiopia. In addition, it will encourage information sharing among media development stakeholders and advocate for common sector priorities. Furthermore, it will strive to assist in the establishment of effective mechanisms to promote professional journalism online and offline, through well-coordinated and targeted capacity development through standardized institutionalized training. Taking into account the ongoing media reforms in Ethiopia, the coordination platform will in addition advocate for the necessary human and financial resources to address the most pressing media development priorities, that will ensure the country media becomes an effective pillar for the country’s development and peace agenda.
National Consultation on Promoting MIL and LLL in Ethiopia
A national Consultative meeting on Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and Lifelong Learning (LLL) in Ethiopia was organized by UNESCO for Journalism educators and Adult Education experts drawn from 19 Public Universities in Ethiopia from 20-21 November in Addis Ababa. The Consultation and capacity development meeting aimed at exploring the capacities, assets and networks of higher education institutions in the promotion of MIL and LLL through research, advocacy and Capacity Development.  Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a new emerging field of human rights in an increasingly digital, interdependent, and global world, and promotes greater social inclusion. It is defined as a set of competencies that empowers citizens to access, retrieve, understand, evaluate and use, create, as well as share: information and media content in all formats, using various tools, in a critical, ethical and effective way, in order to participate and engage in personal, professional and societal activities.  MIL can bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor. It empowers and endows individuals with knowledge of the functions of the media and information systems and the conditions under which these functions are performed. Media and Information Literacy is closely related to Lifelong Learning. Lifelong Learning enables individuals, communities, and nations to attain their goals and to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the evolving global environment for the shared benefit of all individuals, not just a few. It assists them and their institutions and organisations to meet their technological, economic, and social challenges, to redress disadvantages, and to advance every individual's well-being. Public Universities in Ethiopia has three missions: quality teaching and learning, research and Community Services. With this mandate, the journalism and Adult Education departments can join hands in address MIL and LLL objectives.  The three targets identified to initiate among the experts to engage are in advocacy, research and capacity development of MIL and LLL in Ethiopia.  Ethiopia is leading a reform in key political, governance and economic sectors that includes expanding the freedom of expression and media freedom in the country. The government, although courageous to promote freedom of expression, is concerned that the opening up of the media environment is being challenged due to the prevalence of disinformation and hate speech. Ethnic tensions have caused displacements and loss of life in the country. Universities are at the centre of violence, which also costed lives. In  the current Ethiopian context, MIL and LLL could be a strong wing which will initiate reasoning and knowledge building among the young toward empowering citizens to able to fight disinformation and hate speech that ultimately contributes in preventing violence. MIL requires a multi-stakeholder, policy guided and research based approach that identifies gaps and address priorities. Universities are key stakeholders in this initiative, particularly the two departments. In the two days consultative meeting, participants discussed the opportunities offered by MIL and LLL and the capacities of individuals and their institutions in working together in achieving the stated objectives. UNESCO’s experience in the field and resources available were shared so as to facilitate the immediate engagement of participants into actions upon return to their institution.  During the consultation, participants have identified key areas of engagement including: revising the  respective department programmes to include MIL and LLL as courses; revise related courses already available in the curriculum to incorporate MIL contents, projects and activities for students; set up a MIL and LLL centre in the universities to organize initiatives and raise awareness; and conduct researches jointly among the two departments and across participating universities. Currently about 11 journalism and 13 Adult education courses have related contents to MIL and LLL as identified by participants. Three other course are also provided as common course to all students in first year. A national Working Platform to facilitate networking and joint programming among the departments and universities is established by volunteer young scholars from seven participant universities. The Platform will look at opportunities of collaboration, strengthen joint planning and execution of activities and overall coordination of the in which targeted at immediate and medium tern interventions to enhance MIL and LLL in the respective public universities and communities through the community services.  

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About the Office in Addis Ababa

The mission of UNESCO Addis Ababa is to contribute to sustainable human development in a culture of peace underpinned by tolerance, democracy, and human rights through programs and projects in UNESCO's fields of competence: Education, Natural Sciences, Human and Social Sciences, Culture and Communication and Information.

The UNESCO Addis Ababa office comprises of the Liaison office with African Union Commission (AUC ) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the National Office for Ethiopia, under the Nairobi Multisectoral regional office, covering the East Africa region.