On 11 July, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, President of the Republic of Malawi, with whom she exchanged views about the cooperation between Malawi and UNESCO.
The President of Malawi expressed her country’s support to UNESCO and commended the Organization’s action in Malawi in a wide range of areas – including technical and vocational education (TVET), HIV/AIDS preventive education, inclusive education, teacher’s development, tangible and intangible heritage, communication for development through the establishment of community radio, freedom of expression, natural resources as well as biodiversity conservation. She asserted her commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, with particular reference to those relating to education, maternal health, child mortality, gender parity and food security.
Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda appealed to UNESCO to continue supporting her country’s effort to address issues of access, quality and efficiency in the area of education, to promote literacy and life-long learning for poverty eradication and sustainable development, and to reform the technical and vocational education sector.
The President referred to other pressing issues calling for UNESCO’s support -- including gender-based violence, water resources management, technical assistance to the Malawi University of Science and Technology, the promotion of girls participation in science and mathematics, technical support in the preparation of applications for sites to be inscribed in the World Heritage List, the development of creative industries and cultural tourism, the training of journalists and the development of community radios as instrument for promoting pluralism and empowering citizens.
The Director-General commended the President for her leadership and for the achievements of Malawi under her presidency. She praised in particular her ambitious programme to enhance access to higher education as well as its quality, and indicated that UNESCO will accompany the country’s efforts through assistance for capacity building, the development of relevant curricula, and facilitating networking with other relevant higher education institutions in and beyond the region.
The Director-General welcomed the country’s continued commitment to address the needs of young people and acknowledged the importance to train youth to provide them with the necessary skills to enable their insertion in the labour market – thereby also enhancing their social inclusion. Ms Bokova also noted a shared understanding with President Joyce Banda of the importance of girl child and adolescent education and a shared vision of reducing dropouts and promoting science and technology education for girls.
Prior to her encounter with the President of the Republic, the Director-General had a meeting with the line Ministers in UNESCO areas of competences and the Vice-Chancellors of public universities. The meeting, chaired by the Honourable Mrs Eunice Kazembe, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, reviewed cooperation between Malawi and UNESCO and identified programmes to be strengthened as well as new areas of cooperation.
On that same day, the Director-General also visited Lilongwe Technical College and launched the second phase of the Capacity Building for Education for All (CapEFA) programme. She also met with development partners in education (notably, UNICEF, DFID, CIDA, World Bank, GIZ). They exchanged views on the contributions of international partners to the education sector, discussed immediate priorities for development partners in education and successful initiatives to build on, and explored new avenues for enhanced cooperation in support of the country efforts.
On conclusion of her official visit, a Joint Communiqué setting the roadmap for future cooperation between Malawi and UNESCO was signed by the Director-General and the Minister of Education, Science and Technology.