On the second day of her official visit to Ghana, 9 July, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, held a meeting with the members of the Parliament of Ghana. Chaired by the Right Honourable Edward Korby Doe Adaho, Speaker of the Ghana Parliament, this meeting was attended by the Majority Leader in the Parliament, a representative of the Minority leader, the first and second Speakers and Chairpersons of the Select Committees on Education, Culture, Communication and Information, as well as other members of Parliament.
Citing Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, who in the Independence speech declared that “We have awakened. Today from now on there is a new African in the World”, the Director-General re-affirmed her belief in Africa’s renaissance.
She commended Ghana for its decision to prioritize human development, gender equality, and science and technology in its mid-term coordinated Programme for 2010-2016, all of which are consistent with the main lines of UNESCO’s strategy for Africa -- which includes flagship programmes for youth and gender as crosscutting programmes and the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, strengthening education systems and harnessing the power of science, technology and innovation and promoting freedom of expression.
The Speaker of Parliament thanked the Director-General and UNESCO for its support to the World Heritage of Ghana, through its World Cultural Heritage Programme, and appealed for greater efforts in capacity building. He also called for continued support in fostering communication and information to allow people be share knowledge and be less vulnerable to manipulation. This appeal was seconded by other members of parliament who also requested more support for teacher training, particularly with regard to the teaching of sciences and mathematics, and for UNESCO support to the restitution of cultural properties to Ghana.
On the same day, the Director-General visited the University of Cape Coast, where she met with the Vice-Chancellor and all deans of faculties. This provided the opportunity to highlight the strengths of the University of Cape Coast in the fields of humanities, science education, and education planning and administration. The role of the Institute of Education Planning and Administration (IEPA) that UNESCO helped establish in the 70’s and supported the development over the years was deemed especially critical. The IEPA has been instrumental in teacher training and in influencing educational policy in addition to providing prost-graduate programmes. The Minister of Education, who was accompanying the Director-General, was the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast until her recent appointment as Minister.
The Director-General met also with the Cape Coast Resident Minister. This was the entry point on arrival to Cape Coast, the first capital of Ghana whose history and cultural heritage are prominent in Cape Coast and Elmina Castells. The Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s efforts in advocating for culture to become part of the post-2015 agenda and expressed the will to assist in inscribing the cultural wealth of Cape Coast, which could help contribute to the promotion of tourism.
In his welcoming remarks, the Resident Minister commended UNESCO for its efforts in fostering access to education and protection of cultural heritage. While acknowledging that Cape Coast is well endowed in education institutions, he expressed concern with regard to the quality of education provided and requested the support of UNESCO in addressing this issue.