On 15 January 2015, during her official visit to the Dominican Republic, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with the President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr Danilo Medina.
H.E. Mr Gustavo Montalvo, Minister of the Presidency, H.E. Mr Andrés Navarro García, Minister of External Relations, H.E. Mr José Antonio Rodríguez, Minister of Culture, H.E. Mr Carlos Amarante Baret, Minister of Education, H.E. Mr Bautista Rojas Gómez, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, H.E. Ms Ligia Amada Melo Quezada, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology and Mr Gedeón Santos, President of the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (INDOTEL) were also present at the meeting.
The Director-General was warmly welcomed by the authorities and the meeting reviewed governmental priorities in the framework of UNESCO’s mandate, such as fight against poverty, new technologies, literacy, attention to childhood, tangible and intangible heritage, underwater heritage, cultural diversity, biodiversity, climate change, among others, in order for the Organization to work as a platform for development and poverty reduction. In 10 years, the Dominican Republic would like to reach a 70% of the people having access to internet. Very much impressed by the national impulse for education, the Director-General reaffirmed UNESCO’s support in teacher training in order to increase quality education, in particular in sciences and technology. The Director-General invited President Danilo Medina to Headquarters to participate to the celebrations of the 70th Anniversary in November 2015.
On the same day, the Director-General met with the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, Ms. Cándida Montilla de Medina, and visited the first Centre of comprehensive care for disabled children (CAID), which is, under the responsibility of the First Lady. She plays an important role in social activism, with a positive impact on different sectors with plans for education, health, training and guidance of parents to develop an integral development of the family.
Also on 15 January, Irina Bokova visited the Dominican Parliament, where she was declared Honorary Guest by the Senate. She held a multilateral meeting with the President of the Senate, Ms Cristina Lizardo, and the Members of Congress related to UNESCO’s activities in order to establish a dialogue for cooperation.
In her speech on this occasion, the Director-General highlighted the broad contribution of the country in all UNESCO’s fields of competence, from its strong presence in the issues related to the social sciences such as democratic governance, to the protection of Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve and the fight against illiteracy. Education is the best investment for the future and for social inclusion, she said.
The Dominican Republic was designated a Global Education First Initiative Champion Country by the Secretary General of the United Nations. The Director-General highlighted that this means “recognition to the remarkable progress of the country to promote the full access to education, to increase its quality through the training of its teachers, to reduce the gender gap, and the increased resources of the national budget to education.”
In the field of culture, the Director-General underlined that “Dominican culture is a force of dialogue, a force of inclusion and a force of development for the future.”
“The City of Santo Domingo pays testimony to the deep relation between culture and heritage, and the values of human rights. It bears witness to how the understanding of our past could help us promote human dignity, respect and mutual understanding.”