Somalia and the United Nations culture and education agency today signed an agreement aimed at strengthening efforts to preserve the country’s cultural heritage and improve its educational sector.
“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,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Audrey Azoulay.
“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.
The UN official was speaking at a press encounter the capital, Mogadishu, in the wake of the signing of a memorandum of understanding on UNESCO-Somalia cooperation.
The memorandum will enable them to work together on reviving the culture sector in Somalia and enhancing the country’s education policies – the latter includes 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.
Somalia’s Federal Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education, Abdullahi Godah Barre, signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia. At the press encounter, he noted Somalia’s long history of collaboration with UNESCO and added that the renewal of cooperation would profoundly impact education and culture in the country.
“UNESCO has not been present in Somalia, but historically, Somalia and UNESCO have a long history, and since our independence, we have collaborated on many fronts. Today, 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,” he said.
The Prime Minister of Somalia, Hassan Ali Khaire, and UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, witnessed the signing of the memorandum.
In addition to meeting with the Prime Minister during her visit, the UNESCO chief also met with the Minister of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, Gamal Hassan, and the Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, Deqa Yasin.