On 19 January, the third and final day of her official visit to Guatemala, the Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with the President of the Republic, Otto Pérez Molina, to discuss aspects of cooperation between UNESCO and Guatemala. The Director-General expressed her strong commitment to deepen the partnership between UNESCO and Guatemala.
The Director-General highlighted the rich heritage of the country and its cultural diversity, commending the Government of Guatemala for the creation of the Ministry of Social Development. The meeting with the President was also an opportunity to discuss challenges that the country faces such as inclusion and social cohesion, and the role that education can play in achieving them. The President and the Director-General also discussed freedom of the press and the protection of journalists. The Director-General highlighted UNESCO’s readiness to “support the efforts of the Government in this policy agenda for the development of a Programme to Protect Journalists.”
On the same day, the Director-General, accompanied by the Minister of Education, Cynthia del Aguila, participated in the first “Civic Monday Ceremony” of 2015 at the National School for Girls “Dolores Bedoya de Molina”. This has been established by the educational authorities of the country to strengthen the learning of civic values, peace and preservation and conservation of the environment.
"Schools should provide children with tools to understand that diversity enriches us as human beings," the Director-General told the girls and young students.
Irina Bokova also met with the Mayor of the City of Guatemala, Álvaro Arzú, from whom she received the “Keys of the City”. In this respect, Guatemala City was declared “Ibero American Capital of Culture” for the year 2015 at a celebration that began on Monday afternoon.
On behalf of UNESCO, the Director-General received the decoration “Pedagogical Order Juan Arevalo Bermejo”, which the Guatemalan education authorities awarded to the Organisation in honor of its 70th anniversary.
“It is a great honor for UNESCO to receive this decoration,” declared the Director-General. “In this moment of global change, when societies are more and more interconnected and the conventional models of social cohesion, the inclusion of young people and the intercultural dialogue are challenged, education prevails as the best of the options and as the best response”.
The Director-General also met with the President of the Congress of Guatemala, Rabbé Luis Tejada, who expressed his commitment to stand for democracy and for work in UNESCO’s fields of competence -- education, science, culture, information and communication. On this occasion, Irina Bokova was honored to receive the Medal of the Congress.
The Director-General met also with the Minister of Social Development, Edgar Leonel Rodríguez, whom she congratulated for the creation of this Ministry. In addition, she met with the Secretary-General of the Guatemalan National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO, Jannina Padilla, with whom she discussed UNESCO’s Participation Programme and the International Fund for Cultural Diversity. This meeting, also attended by the Ambassador María Aguja, was an opportunity to strengthen the excellent cooperation between UNESCO and the Commission.