Paris, France – November 6, 2015 – Virgin Islands Minister for Education and Culture, Honourable Myron V. Walwyn addressed the international assembly at the 37th General Session of UNESCO this morning in Paris, France.
Updating UNESCO’s Director General, Madame Irina Bokova, President of the Conference, China’s Vice Minister of Education. HAO Ping, andother Ministers of governments and their delegations, on the Virgin Islands’ progress, Walwyn said, “UNESCO prides itself on the mantra,education for all. I am pleased to report that, our Government has been reinvesting and rebuilding the educational sector in this respect. We have been working assiduously to ensure that all citizens, from early years to adulthood, have the avenues through which they can each reach their full potential, to be successful in life, at work and in the community through the core message – Creating a Culture of Excellence.”
The Minister used his time to address areas of reform the Territory is now managing; the development of technical and vocational education, ICT education, support for differently abled students, and the development of culture and pride. Articulating the Government’s view on the need for an improved education system, he said, “The Government of the Virgin Islands believes that no real economic and social development is possible particularly in Small Island Developing States without a solid foundation in education.”
He added, “Our Government realises that in order for the Virgin Islands to maintain a relevant and vibrant economy, we need to find opportunities to prepare our young people today, so that they can properly take care of their homeland in an uncertain tomorrow and to prepare them to be good global citizens. We fully support UNESCO’s thrust in education in the areas of ICT’s, TVET and Teacher Training and Development. I have met with some of your experts in this field during this conference and will be following up to receive assistance to take our TVET programme even further.”
Reiterating UNESCO’s stance for the preservation of culture and heritage for all, Walwyn lobbied the body to support the preservation of historical sites in the Territory for both the quality of life for residents as well as the Territory’s tourism product.
Minister Walwyn, who also has shared responsibility for the preservation of historical sites added, “much more is needed in the preservation of our historical sites, sites that are of global significance and we seek UNESCO’s continued help to move sites such as the St. Phillips Church of the Africans and the Nottingham Freed Slave Estate to the Memory of the World and World Heritage.”
Underscoringhis consistent stance to help the Virgin Islands build cultural and historical pride, Walwyn said,“the Government of the Virgin Islands believes that UNESCO is strategically well positioned to assist our sub-region in amplifying intercultural dialogue on the legacy of enslavement and its associated impact on cultural heritage. People without an understanding of how they came into being will be forced to imagine and create a history for themselves and we cannot afford that.”
With the UNESCO National Commission in the Territory, the Ministry is working to secure resources from the international organisation – both financial and technical assistance. Also attending the conference of behalf of the Territory is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture, Dr Marcia Potter and Secretary General, BVI National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Allison Flax-Archer. At the conference the Minister and Doctors Potter and Flax-Archer had the opportunity to meet with their international counterparts and share with key stakeholders ways in which UNESCO can support the Territory’s educational and cultural goals.
The General Conference is being held from November 5 – 20 and consists of the representatives of the States Members of the Organisation. It meets every two years, and is attended by Member States and Associate Members, together with observers for non-Member States, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Foundations.The Conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the Organisation (article IV of the Constitution):
- discussing all the issues concerning the general policy of the Organisation, and occasionally by focusing on certain major themes;
- adopting for the next four years a programme and , for the next two years a budget, the draft of which is submitted to the General Conference and is the outcome of a consultation process between the Member States and the Secretariat;
- electing the Members of the Executive Board;
- appointing, every four years, the Director-General;
- adopting the (eight-year) Medium-Term Strategy of the Organisation.