While in Paris last week to attend the 39th session of the UNESCO Ministerial General Conference, Deputy Prime Minister, Shawn Richards paid a courtesy visit on the outgoing UNESCO Director-General, H.E. Irene Bokova, who stands down after 8 years at the helm of this specialised UN agency.
The meeting went beyond pure courtesy, the Minister, who oversees the ministerial portfolio covering education, sports and culture, also seized the occasion to express, on behalf of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis, his deep appreciation of the substantive assistance afforded by UNESCO experts to the Federation over this period.
Accompanied by the St. Kitts and Nevis permanent delegate to UNESCO in Paris, Ambassador Dr. David P. Doyle, Minister Richards evoked the tangible benefits derived by St. Kitts and Nevis from UNESCO expertise on the ground since 2006.
St. Kitts and Nevis had marked up a number of important milestones over the past eight years, noted Minister Richards in his talks with Mrs Bokova, the highlight being a Ministerial and expert’s conference on Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean, organized by UNESCO in March 2011, and another successful UNESCO Inter-Ministerial and Experts Conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Sub Region, in March 2013, both held in St. Kitts.
“These events”, remarked Minister Richards, “have put our small island developing state on the international map on critically-important issues affecting all SIDS”.
Minister Richards cited a particular area of UNESCO intervention that added value on the ground – the UNESCO Education Policy Review of the St. Kitts and Nevis Education sector, undertaken over 2015-2016. “the outcome of the review positioned the Federation in the right direction in developing a meaningful competency driven curriculum that has at its center 21st Century skills”, noted proudly Minister Richards.
After the meeting with Director-General Bokova, St. Kitts & Nevis Ambassador Doyle remarked, “Under Director-General Bokova’s watch, the Federation has greatly boosted its profile at UNESCO through focused and targeted activities of core interest to the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, and ultimately its citizens, in areas as diverse as mitigating climate change, youth engagement, anti-doping in sport, upgrading ICT and media training, vocational education policy development, cultural heritage preservation and enhancement.”
The Secretary-General of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission, Mr. Antonio Maynard, who also accompanied the Honourable Minister Richards, was equally upbeat about the value of UNESCO’s “Over the past eight years, the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO has been active in articulating and developing, with UNESCO’s timely input, key strategic orientations in policy areas of benefit to the Federation, notably, education, science, and more recently, in following through on the ratification of UNESCO Conventions on intangible cultural heritage and diversity of cultural expressions.”