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unesco's first ngo forum

Evelyn Ascot reports on the first Forum of NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO, held in Paris on September 23, 2013.   

For my first entrance in the UNESCO world, representing ICJW, I went full of hope to this first Forum of NGO’s in official partnership with UNESCO, so much the more that the topic was “Which Education Goals for Tomorrow’s Citizens of the World : Is quality enough ?

The attendance of this first session was very big, the NGOs were very eager to be on the spot and hoped that something “real” would come out of this day, not  just the usual “wishful thinking”. The topic might lead to ways of new understanding through Education among the Citizens of the World, so immense is the need for this. 
The morning session set the scene with the Assistant Director-General for External Relations and Public Information, representing UNESCO and the Chairperson of the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee congratulating each other for this event. They pointed out that education is essential, not only in schools, but in daily life, tending toward the learning of Human Rights and solidarity and the way is still long. 
The Chairperson of the Liaison committee insisted that school books should be relooked at and a strategic project should be made, including four forums, amongst which “Women and poverty”, “Access to drinking water”, each of these forums being held in different places. 
The program which seemed so interesting, once back home and having thought about it before writing this report, is still reflecting the way UNESCO is functioning and which, in my very humble opinion, is a real problem: the NGOs cannot weigh on the decisions which could tend towards a better understanding among the Citizens of the World. 
After having repeated endlessly by the different NGO’s during the afternoon, pointing out real problems, such as : 
1)    The education of women and the disparity between men and women in the work sphere, in the schools where the girls are in minority. These points were underlined by the representative of Soroptomist who insisted that even in war regions, once there is peace, the situation does not become better for the women.
2)    The representative of the US pointed out that Education should come through training to live together, to look for partners.
3)    This wish was reiterated by the Kenyan woman representative who insisted that girls should be integrated everywhere : girls can do as much as boys.
4)    As to the representative of Malaysia, he insisted on promoting high school education in Afrika. 
I could go on by quoting the UNESCO speakers congratulating themselves about the UNESCO being a laboratory of ideas and meetings and education, which is certainly true, but the mere topic: “Is quality enough?”  has not been exploited by really trying to see where, in which part of the world, can we NGO’s, together with UNESCO, do something.
During the afternoon during which certain delegates underlined their field, some of which were real problems, such as the lack of access for the handicapped, which is a problem all over the world, not only in Afrika, but in Europe too. 
An educator working in a suburb in France with youngsters being “outside” the system, was very proud to tell that the problem was only due to the French education Ministry, with which the audition gratefully agreed, and which, honestly, I did not agree with at all. It is always easy to find a responsible, the authorities, which is not the case. 
The day ended by preparing a strategic plan in view of the Post 2015 Education goals, which leaves us another 2 years to think about it.