Thursday, April 30, 2009

Benin Politics :181st SESSION OF UNESCO

President Boni Yayi urges for more solidarity

President Boni Yayi makes an appeal to UNESCO’s Executive Board for education in developing countries. Thomas Boni Yayi, President of the Republic of Benin, asked on April 21, 2009 that the International Community “not risk jeopardizing the future of education in the less privileged countries due to the crisis.” The President of Benin was addressing the 181st session of UNESCO’s Executive Board, meeting in Paris until 30 April.

Source: UNESCO’s Bureau of Public Information

Greeting President Boni Yayi, the Chairman of the Executive Board, Ambassador of Benin Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, hailed him as someone “who personifies Africa on the move, dreaming Africa, hoping Africa, changing Africa, winning Africa.”

For his part, Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, welcomed “this message of determination and mobilization” presented to the international community, declaring that “this vibrant plea on behalf of education, health and the fight against poverty in Africa is a commitment that remains our own.” Citing his open letter to G20 members, Mr. Matsuura added, “If we want the countries most affected by the crisis to reconnect with growth and sustainable development, we must today invest in social sectors, notably education.”

In his speech to the Executive Board, Dr Boni Yayi stressed the impact of the current crisis. “Despite having protected its banking and financial system by prudent and virtuous regulation, Africa is already one of the main victims economically and socially.” The President listed the first negative consequences for the continent: “The drop in prices for agricultural raw materials further aggravates the fragility and vulnerability of African economies. It increases our State budgets’ need for funding.”

He underlined the threat represented by the crisis to the large African diaspora in industrialized countries, communities who face becoming “the first victims of job eliminations caused by the drastic decline of the world economy. The result will be a substantial decrease of funds sent home by migrants to African countries, which must also expect a decrease of both direct foreign investment and government aid to development.”
According to President Boni Yayi, the combined effects of these destabilizing factors could “annihilate the economic recovery efforts pledged by African leaders, who furthermore must deal with the energy crisis and the food crisis.” Given this situation, the African community must “deepen economic reforms in order to build in true solidarity the foundations of a stronger and more diversified continental economy, less vulnerable to external upheavals.”

Human wealth is the most valuable, said Dr Boni Yayi, underlining that “Africa must meet, through massive investment, the major challenges of education and training, the acquisition of science and technological innovation.” He mentioned action taken by Benin to this end, notably establishing free access to primary school in 2006-2007. He also called on the partners of the Education for All Fast Track Initiative, as well as the international community, to strengthen their financial support of the program: “The world must not risk jeopardizing the future of education in the less privileged countries due to the crisis, while the investment efforts of African and other governments must be vigorously maintained in order to implement educational policies promoting quality and free access to education for girls and boys.”

President Boni Yayi conluded: “What African governments expect from the international community is an unconditional pledge to support our ideals of justice, solidarity, and peace. But a call for solidarity, notably during a crisis, makes sense only when it is coupled with a call for vigilance and responsibility. That is why African states must clean up their public finances and the macroeconomic context, fight resolutely against all forms of corruption, and conduct the required structural and institutional reforms, based on our traditional values of solidarity and sharing, and taking into account the demands of globalization.”

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