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From 6th to 8th March 2013 the 1st Expert Advisory Body Meeting of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIP) was held in New Delhi, India, to discuss the way forward for the institute. The MGIP was formal-ly established by UNESCO and the Government of India as Category I Institute in 2012 to develop and promote new approaches to education to build a more sustainable and peaceful world. Directed by Mr. Kabir Shaikh, the MGIP pursues the following aims: expanding the knowledge base, providing technical advice, building networks and partner-ships.
Mr. Prithi Perera, former Secretary General of the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, was invited to the 1st meeting of the Advisory Board to present the initiatives taken in Sri Lanka in regard to education for peace and sustainable develop-ment. Further, the following members of the Expert Advisory Body joined the meeting: Mr. Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary, Government of India to USA and High Commissioner UK, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Professor Emeritus of Thammasat University in Thailand and former Secretary Gen-eral of ASEAN, Mr. Richard Celeste, former US Ambassador to India, Dr. Dasho Karma Ura, Presi-dent of Bhutan Studies in Bhutan, and Ms. Soo Hyang Choi, Director, Division of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development from UNESCO head office in Paris.
Stating that education must encourage pupils and young people as well as adults to live together in peace and to respect human dignity and rights, the participants agreed that education for peace and sustainable development should not be limited to schools but including local governments and com-munities to achieve a sustainable future and to empower society. This main objective is embodied by five pillars: Peace, Environment, Health, Econo-my and Society.
The National Action Plan on Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, which was launched in Sri Lanka under the leadership of H.E. The President, Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa, was shared with the participants.
The Asia Pacific Ministerial Policy Forum was held in Seoul, Republic of Korea, from 10th to 12th Sep-tember 2013. The forum focused on the theme “Are children ready to learn? Are schools ready for children?” with almost 200 high-level representa-tives from 31 countries in the Asia-Pacific region participating, including 18 education ministers and vice-ministers. Officials from focal ministries and coordinating bodies involved in ECCE as well as ministries responsible for finance and economic planning were also in attendance.
The forum bolstered the early childhood develop-ment community’s commitment to children, under-scoring the importance of an inter-sectorial, holistic approach.
Hon. Minister of Education, Mr. Bandula Gun-awardhana, led the Sri Lankan delegation. He addressed the forum on 11th September with a speech on “Integrating Care and Education”. The Forum ended with participating delegations pre-sented and discussed follow-up actions to be un-dertaken in their respective countries as well as mechanisms for future country-to-country coopera-tion. At the closing ceremony, the Government of Malaysia also announced that it will host the next Asia-Pacific policy forum on Early Child Care and Education.
13th Regional Meeting of National Education for All Coordinators: The Big Push
The 13th Regional Meeting of the National Educa-tion for All (EFA) Coordinators took place at UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Educa-tion in Bangkok, Thailand, from 26th to 27th Febru-ary. This meeting was called to follow up on the Global EFA Meeting in November 2012 in Paris, France. Discussions were focused on key elements for speeding the EFA progress, innovative ap-proaches and practices in terms of achieving EFA goals on country level, identifying problems and prioritized actions to develop national EFA acceler-ation. Further to take actions to carry out national EFA reviews and provide inputs on education for the future from a national perspective according to the post-2015 development agenda. Mrs. Bara Withanage, Director, EFA, Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka, and Mr. W.S. Perera, Director of Educa-tion, Data Management Branch, Ministry of Educa-tion, attended the meeting. The session on Region-al Thematic Consultation in Asia-Pacific from 28th February to 1st March was held in Bangkok, Thai-land, too.
Policy makers, officials, practitioner, researchers, students and teachers got together for a three days long forum on Gender, Information and Communi-cation Technologies and Education, co-organised by UNESCO New Delhi Office and Intel South Asia. From 24th to 26th September 2013 several discus-sions on the issue of gender equality in ICT compo-nent of education policies were hold in New Delhi, India, where the symposium took place. Mr. M.G. Ranjith Kumarasiri, Education Specialist, Education for Knowledge Society Project, Ministry of Educa-tion, and Mr. M.F.S.P. Jayawardene, Deputy Direc-tor General, National Institute of Education, partici-pated in this forum.
Regional Policy Seminar on Education Develop-ment and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Re-gion: Shifting Dynamics, Increasing Collabora-tion
Within the framework of the working arrangement between UNESCO Asia and Pacific Bureau for Education and the Korean Educational Develop-ment Institute, a regional seminar on “Education, Development and Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region” was organised in Bangkok, Thailand, from 5th to 7th August this year. Ms. Tushara D. Pathiranage, Senior Assistant Secretary, Ministry of Education, participated in this seminar. Oral presentations and open discussions focused on regional trends and implication for international as well as regional cooperation for education in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Acknowledging the need of pushing forward the implementation of Education for International Un-derstanding (EIU) in teacher training curriculum and the consolidation of a network among educa-tors in Asia and the Pacific, the 13th Asia-Pacific Training Workshop on EIU was held from 8th to 17th July 2013 in the Republic of Korea. Ms. W.W.G.U. Gamage, Assistant Lecturer at the National Insti-tute of Education, participated in this training work-shop.
Workshop on Disaster Risk Reduction Pilot Consultation and Regional Consultation on Support Planning for the ESD Programme Framework to follow the UN DESD in 2014
The main objective of the three days long workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand, from the 15th to 17th May, was to organize expert consultations to collect positions on the development of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) programme and framework for 2014 and to prepare a final report on the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Devel-opment (DESD). Ms. P. Wijesooriya, Director, Ministry of Education, Ms. I. Selvaranee, Project Officer, National Institute of Education, and Ms. K.A.I. Geethani, Project Officer, National Institute of Education, participated in this workshop.
Consultative Meeting for APEID Programmes 2014-2017
The UNESCO-Asia-Pacific Programme of Educa-tional Innovation for Development (APEID) was established in 1973 to improve the quality of educa-tion and to promote sustainable human develop-ment through educational innovation and research. This year the Consultative Meeting for APEID Programmes 2014-2017 took place from 19th to 21st November in Bangkok, Thailand, to discuss various strategies and future partnership arrangements in terms of the APEID Programmes. Prof. P.C.P. Jaufar, Deputy Director General, Faculty of Alterna-tive and Teacher Education, National Institute for Education, joined the meeting.
The Regional Initiative for Climate Change Educa-tion (RICE) was launched in 2011 by the Korean National Commission for UNESCO (KNCU) to help small communities to mitigate the effects of climate change at the local level. Organised by the KNCU and supported by the Korea Energy Management Corporation and the UNDP Special Unit for South-South Cooperation, the 4th Regional Training Work-shop took place in Chiangmai, Thailand, from 25th to 29th November 2013. Main objectives of the said workshops were the evaluation of the progress of on-going projects from a viewpoint of adequate climate change education, to share experiences and good practices as well as to discuss future plans of the Asian Rice Project all together. The training workshop was joined by N.L.K. Anjana Kumara, Management Assistant, Sri Lanka Nation-al Commission for UNESCO, Mrs. H.M.C.B. Meni-ke, Kurunegala Maliyadewa Vidyalaya, Mrs. Lalani Jayathilaka, Royal College Colombo, Mrs. E.A. Padimini, Devi Balika Vidyala Colombo, and Mrs. Indika Pathirana, Southlands College Galle.
UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Intel Corporation and the Government of People’s Republic of China were co-organizingthe Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Educa-tion 2013 from 26th to 28th November in Shenzhen, China. The Forum is an annual conference that provides countries in the Asia-Pacific region a regular platform to share experiences and that discusses strategies on the roles and uses of tech-nology in education. In 2013 the theme of the forum is “Fostering Favourable Policy Environments for Mainstreaming Sustainable Innovations”. Because of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meet-ing in Colombo, the Hon. Minister of Education was represented by Ms. W.A.S.W. Wijesooriya, Assis-tant Director of Education ICT, Ministry of Educa-tion, and Mr. Sunil Nihal Maduwage, Director ICT, National Institute of Education.
The one-day workshop on “English Language Capacity Building of Education Officers” was held on the 27th of September 2013 at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall. Within the framework of the Teacher Training in English Ca-pacity Building Programme, the implementing agencies United Nations Volunteers Programme, UNESCO, the Ministry of Education and the Na-tional Institute for Education called for this work-shop in co-operation with the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO to discuss the current programme proposal with teacher trainers and RESC coordinators amongst others from all over the country. The two years project plans to bring in UN volunteers, who are experienced professionals in teacher training with reference to English as a second language. Mainly they will support the work at all RESCs in the country’s nine provinces. The programme aims to improve the quality of and the access to English Language Training in a system-atic manner.
UNESCO has a mandate for fostering Freedom of Expression. We strive to support achieving this objective though providing various global standards and norms. Technical assistance is also provided upon request by the relevant state parties.
Sri Lanka is a country with a very rich culture and heritage including indigenous knowledge. We are rich in both cultural and natural heritage. Hence, the National Commission coordinates with relevant institutions to conserve and promote our culture and heritage. We closely follow up on the status of our UNESCO World Heritage Properties and encourage relevant ministries to seek the participation of the private sector and the general public in protection and maintenance of these properties.
This Commission liaises with various international partners to enhance public understanding and awareness on the value of protecting our culture and heritage while trying to take unique elements of our culture to the world. We also provide opportunities to various personnel employed in the sector to develop themselves through local and overseas training.
UNESCO promotes sciences in its various forms for a sustainable future. SLNCU works closely with the ministries of Environment & Natural Resources, Technology & Research and Social Services in order to achieve this objective. We provide international liaisons for government initiatives such as Alternative Energy programmes for the Energy crisis, waste management systems, development of Science in Secondary Schools, with particular emphasis on Chemistry and promotion of Nano Technology through providing technical support. In addition, SLNCU enhances the links between policy, research and implementation for Management of Social Transformation. (MOST)
Strengthening of National Committees on MAB, IOC, Bioethics, Hydrology are major responsibilities of this Commission. We pay much attention to the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and contribute to awareness creation through development of various reading materials and conducting seminars & workshops. The Asian RICE Project in which we participated with selected schools provides better understanding about Climate Change and combatting it.
The government of Sri Lanka has given high priority to development of the education sector. This encompasses primary to tertiary education as well as vocational training. The country aspires to be a global knowledge hub. UNESCO provides Definitions, Standards & Norms for Education sector through the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO. It also provides comparative global and regional data & statistics on education enabling informed decision making to enhance the quality of education in Sri Lanka. The Global Monitoring Report on Education for All is launched nationally each year in collaboration with relevant stakeholders. The establishment of the South Asian Centre for Teacher Development as a UNESCO Category 2 Centre in Meepe, Sri Lanka makes a strong contribution to the government initiative to improve the quality of Education.
UNESCO continues to support other government initiatives on human resource development such as improvement of ICT Skills, enhancement of inclusive education & social cohesion, promote education for peace & sustainable development and enhance early childhood care & education. In addition the fullest cooperation of the SLNCU is given to promote English language teaching as a link language. Capacity building and human resource development opportunities are provided to suitable personnel in education and higher education sectors to improve the quality of service. Assistance of expertise and technical cooperation for education quality development are provided as and when requests for such assistance are made.