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Tuesday 19 September 2017, 16:12 pm.
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Issues In Education

TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING UNESCO IN BOTSWANA
Issues in the previous two weeks looked closely at UNESCO and its approaches from an educational perspective.
By DORCUS MOLEFE,OWEN PANSIRI,SHELDON WEEKS (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Issues In Education








Today Issues, has stepped back and focused on the wider framework of UNESCO. UNESCO was born after the end of World War Two on the 16th of November 1945, as a specialised UN agency, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, known first by the word, "Unesco", but now as an acronym, UNESCO. Its roots go back to the League of Nations in 1921 after Word War One.

UNESCO's aim is "to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information".UNESCO today has 196 member states, the latest to join being Palestine. UNESCO serves Botswana from a "cluster office" in Harare, Zimbabwe, that also encompasses Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Other cluster offices for Southern Africa are in Windhoek, Namibia; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Nairobi, Kenya. UNESCO has made Africa a priority area and given greater attention to "Gender Equality". UNESCO's work is far greater than formal and non-formal education.

The five major UNESCO programme areas are, in their African context: 1) attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning, with particular reference to achieving Education for All (EFA); 2) in the natural sciences mobilising knowledge and policy for sustainable development, including the management of natural resources and to benefit a sound environment, with efforts directed to capacity-building and disaster preparedness and mitigation; 3) in the social and human sciences addressing emerging social and ethical challenges, especially critical research policies, social transformation and ethical norms; 4) in the arena of culture, promoting a culture of peace, working to support cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue with a focus on protecting and enhancing cultural heritage; and 5) in the field of communication and information striving to build a knowledge society, supporting universal and free access to information and a pluralistic, free and independent media.

The UNESCO approaches in Botswana have been supported by a Botswana National Commission for UNESCO.In 2012 the commission celebrated at least six international days (out of a total of 37 international days supported by UNESCO): World Freedom Day; International Mother Language

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Day; International Literacy Day, World Tourism Day, World AIDS Day-Getting to Zero and International Radio Day.Botswana also joined in the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, and for a Managed Aquifer Recharge system for water supply, plus safeguarding of Botswana's intangible cultural heritage.

In the field of cultural heritage UNESCO works closely with the National Museum, Monuments and Art Gallery in Gaborone. For example, UNESCO funded the restoration of the Bonnington Open Air Museum in Gaborone.Perhaps best known in Botswana is the UNESCO programme to promote World Heritage Sites.Today there are nearly one thousand sites across the globe, listed as protected by UNESCO's international World Heritage Programme (WHP). The UN General Assembly elects 21 member states to sustain the programme.The programme began in 1972 and the majority of sites are cultural, with around 200 being sites of a unique natural heritage. In Botswana so far there is one official World Heritage Site at Tsodilo Hills.

It was approved at the 25th Session of the WHP in 2001 and is now in its 12th year of development.It was recognised not only for its thousands of rock paintings, but as a unique spiritual and religious site and a record of human settlement over tens of thousands of years (archeologists now claim 70,000 years, but this is still disputed). A second World Heritage Site for Botswana is in the process of being approved, but will require time and support both from within and outside Botswana. In all, UNESCO has identified over 1,200 sites, but over 200 wait to be finalised. The second site in Botswana is the Okavango Delta. The uniqueness of the Okavango Delta qualifies it to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In education the Botswana National Commission for UNESCO has supported efforts to achieve quality education, as well as Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) initiatives with cooperation from Korea.Better Education for Africa's Rise (BEAR), is another TVET project to assist youth. Environmental education for sustainable development is also backed. In addition, Botswana has sent delegates to the UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris, France.

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