UNESCO Wants Greater Public Interest

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK The sixty-member new Namibia National Commission for UNESCO on Friday met for the first time to be briefed about its responsibilities to help maintain peace and security in the world. The Minister of Education, Nangolo Mbumba, was the keynote speaker at the event that was held under the chairmanship of former deputy minister of Education, Buddy Wentworth, at a city hotel. The local national representative of UNESCO, Dr Claudia Harvey and Hans d’Orville, director of UNESCO’s Strategic Planning Division in Paris, also addressed the assembly of commissioners representing the interests of the Namibian society. “As a multilateral world body UNESCO is a complex organization and has complex structures and systems in place in terms of its functions and operations. The body is continuously encouraging member states to actively participate in the formulation, execution and evaluation of its programmes and activities to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the world,” minister Mbumba said. He warned the local body of being unable to fully participate if its members do not understand the workings of the international organization. “We need to know how the UNESCO programme and budget are prepared, what happens after the approval of the programme and the budget and when to intervene to make meaningful contributions. This can only be done effectively and efficiently if the local body understands what is expected from it to help raise public interest in its activities,” he said. It is a known fact that little Namibian public interest had been shown in the local body over the years to which the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia, Professor Lazarus Hangula has now also been nominated. “The national body had been expanded to ensure broader participation of many Namibians in the affairs and activities of UNESCO. The main objective of this briefing is also to familiarize the members with the mandate of UNESCO as a specialized agency of the United Nations system,” the minister said.