Somalia, UN ink deal to preserve culture heritage

Thursday, February 13th, 2020 00:27 | By
Audrey Azoulay (L, front), Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Hassan Ali Khaire (R,front), Somalia's Prime Minister sign agreement documents in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia. (Xinhua/Charles Onyango)


Somalia and the United Nations culture and education agency on Tuesday signed an agreement aimed at strengthening efforts to preserve the country's cultural heritage and improve its educational sector.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-general of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said this will enable them to work together on reviving the culture sector and enhancing education policies by enrolling schoolchildren, with a specific focus on young girls, ensuring free and quality primary and secondary education, as well as making available open digital resources, including textbooks.

"Culture and education are vital for the country's future. After years of conflict, they are vital to the human dimension of recovery, of peacebuilding, of sustainability," Azoulay said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening.

"And I am very happy that we have been discussing and opening this new chapter of cooperation," she added, on the first-ever visit of a UNESCO head to the Horn of Africa country.

Somalia has been rebuilding its educational sector after three decades of conflict but despite encouraging developments, there are still considerable gaps in access to quality education and learning for children and adolescents.

These gaps, according to the UN, are rooted in the country's protracted conflict, which has reinforced vulnerabilities, including poverty and economic disadvantages, which are impacting on children's access to early learning, basic education and skills training opportunities.

Of the about five million school-aged children in Somalia, more than three million children are out of school, UNESCO said.

"I know that the challenges are huge and how difficult the situation can sometimes seem. But I have great hopes because of this renewed investment in culture and education," said Azoulay.

The deal foresees professional capacity-building and training, especially for museum administrators and archivists.

UNESCO will also accompany the country in the rehabilitation of three important cultural sites - the national theatre, museum and library.

Abdullahi Godah Barre, Somalia's Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education, noted that the renewal of cooperation would profoundly impact education and culture in the country.

"We have collaborated on many fronts. Today, the time has allowed us to reignite our relationship with UNESCO. That relationship will directly contribute to our lower and higher education as well as culture, science, and technology," Barre said. (Xinhua)

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