The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has charged Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to ensure that education remains a priority in the common development agenda of countries.
As the recently appointed Domestic Financing champion of the Global Partnership for Education, President Akufo-Addo sought the cooperation and support of UNESCO “to work towards developing sustainable homegrown financial solutions, so we can develop the educational system for the future we want in our various countries.”
Addressing the 215th Meeting of the Executive Board of UNESCO, on Monday, 10th October 2021, in Paris, France, the President noted that the world does not have the luxury to pick and choose which crises it wants to fix.
“At this moment, we cannot pick and choose between funding guns and education. We cannot pick and choose between the interests of the present generation and the future of our girls and boys. We cannot choose geopolitical concerns over preserving our cherished cultural heritages, lest we perish universally,” he said.
Due to global instability, however, President Akufo-Addo noted that education has become one of many competing priorities of domestic budgets, with development aid to the education sector also seriously under pressure.
“Indeed, countries reduced their spending on education after the onset of COVID-19, and, at the same time, direct aid to education by bilateral donors fell by some three hundred and fifty-nine million dollars ($359 million), which is not compatible with the objectives of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda for financing sustainable development and the goals of the SDGs,” he said.
The President continued, “We are further informed that prospects for reaching the funding target, through voluntary contributions, are uncertain as several long-term donors have already reduced significantly their voluntary contributions to UNESCO due to a change in development cooperation priorities, thereby significantly impacting our planned programme implementation.”
In spite of these challenges, President Akufo-Addo commended UNESCO for the lead role it played in ensuring the success of the Transforming Education Summit, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September this year.
Necessitated by the seminal “Futures of Education” report from UNESCO, the President indicated that the Transforming Education Summit, and, indeed, the pre-summit held here in Paris, has been extremely successful in getting the world to reflect deeply on the trajectory of educational systems, and how to addresses the challenges of our time.
Touching on Global Priority Africa Programme, which has been adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 41st Session, President Akufo-Addo was delighted that UNESCO has made Africa a Global Priority, and was delighted to see UNESCO’s flagship programmes as being relevant to achieving the objectives of the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, i.e. “Africa We Want”.
He also urged UNESCO’s Executive Board to help win the fight against Climate Change, especially as the planet is heading towards a dangerous tipping point as a result of climate change.
In furtherance of this, he commended UNESCO for the effort to strengthen the “Man and Biosphere Programme”, whose goal is to help protect nature and biodiversity loss globally, through the Biosphere Reserve Concept.
“I urge the UNESCO Member States to strengthen measures, at their respective national levels, that recognise formally the contribution of Biosphere Reserves, and designate more biosphere reserves and geoparks as a sure way for solving the climate crisis”, he added.
In conclusion, the President informed the Executive Board of the news that Accra has been named as the UNESCO World Book Capital for 2023, making Accra part of the prestigious World Book Capital Cities Network.
This, he stated, is an acknowledgement of the giant strides Ghana and Africa are making in developing Ghana’s book and creative arts industry.
“The year-long programme to celebrate this honour done us by UNESCO will commence from 23rd April 2023, which is celebrated globally as the World Book and Copyright Day. I wish to use this opportunity to invite you all to join Ghana in this year-long celebrations,” the President added.