UN backs production of new history syllabus for African students

An outdoor classroom in Africa

10 June 2010 – In an effort to ensure that African youth learn about their common heritage, the United Nations agency responsible for cultural issues said today it is working with historians, education specialists and government representatives to develop a history syllabus for African schools.

The new syllabus is to be based on the book entitled General History of Africa, an eight-volume series written from the African perspective and published by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It will be the first such programme designed for the entire continent.

The project will be discussed at a seven-day conference organized by UNESCO and dubbed “Regional Conference on the Pedagogical Use of the General History of Africa in African Schools” that began today in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

“UNESCO’s publication of the General History of Africa, launched in 1964 and completed in 1999, marked a revolution in the recognition of Africa’s cultural heritage,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General.

“This conference is part of the next phase of the project, which calls for promoting the General History’s use in African schools. Making this scholarly history accessible and available to students through such educational tools as an atlas and a DVD will ensure that young people all over the continent are able to learn about their common heritage,” said Ms. Bokova.

The conference brings together 150 participants to plan the production of standardized educational materials for use in African schools. Three core components will be developed for primary and secondary schools – a historical atlas, a DVD and training tools for history teachers.

The GHA pedagogical project, overseen by a 10-member scientific committee representing the continent’s five sub-regions, has received $2 million in funding from Libya. It aims to enhance history teaching in African Union (AU) countries with a view to promoting regional integration.

The conference will define the framework, terms and conditions for the development of the educational materials.

“The GHA pedagogical project reflects the priority given to Africa by UNESCO and is implemented as part of the Second Decade of Education for Africa (2006-2015), which stresses the links between education and culture and the quality of educational content,” the agency said in a statement.


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