Improving the quality of education in Africa

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) 2011 Africa Regional Meeting will be held on the theme “The right to Education for All in Africa: Reinforcing quality and equity” on 12 April in Lomé, Togo

The meeting is co-organized by DESA, in cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in collaboration with the Government of Togo.

The meeting will take place in conjunction with an African Union Teachers’ Conference and it is part of the preparatory process for the 2011 Annual Ministerial Review on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to education.”

Ministers of Education and a broad cross section of regional stakeholders will gather to discuss trends, challenges, and policies and programmes on education in Africa and their impact on the achievement of the Millennium development Goals. Panellists and experts will examine approaches to improve equity and inclusiveness in education and improve its quality.

They will also address ways to use universal primary education as a powerful driver to eradicate poverty, reduce child and maternal mortality, promote gender equality, and ensure sustainable development. A special session will showcase best practices and new initiatives from across the region.

For more information: http://www.un.org/en/ecosoc/amr/index.shtml

Briefing sessions in celebration of the International Year of Youth

Next event in the series organized by the UN Programme on Youth of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs will take place in New York on 12 April on the topic of “Youth Participation”

The event is one of many arranged to celebrate the International Year of Youth, leading up to the UN Conference on Youth on 25-26 July. It will explore the issue of youth participation, taking examples from the work of the UN system, NGOs and young people themselves on youth participatory processes.

Featured participants will include Ravi Karkara, Child Participation Specialist with UNICEF; Pamela Wridt of CUNY Graduate Center; four youth speakers of a youth-friendly community in East Harlem; and Mahroo Moshari, Director of Manhattan Multicultural Counseling, and Representative of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) to the UN.

Participation is a fundamental right. It is one of the guiding principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that has been reiterated in many other Conventions and Declarations. Through active participation, young people are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities, helping them to learn vital life-skills, develop knowledge on human rights and citizenship and to promote positive civic action.

The UN has long recognized that young people are a major human resource for development and key agents for social change, economic growth and technological innovation. Participation in decision-making is a key priority area of the UN agenda on youth.

To prepare for the events, the UN Programme on Youth is making use of the International Year of Youth Facebook page to ask young people about issues of most concern to them, using the responses to feed into the sessions.

Upcoming briefing sessions during the spring will highlight topics including: “Girls and Young Women”; “Indigenous Issues”; “Armed Conflict”; “Information and Communication Technology”; and “Education”.

For details on the briefing sessions: http://social.un.org/youthyear/briefings.html

Factsheet on Youth Participation: http://social.un.org/youthyear/docs/youth-participation.pdf

International Year of Youth Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/UNyouthyear

Strengthening the protection of human rights of older persons

The first open-ended working group session will be convened on 18-21 April in New York

The working group was established by the General Assembly resolution 65/182 on 21 December 2010. This landmark decision to focus attention on the rights of older persons came nearly ten years after the adoption of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing in 2002. It recognizes that national development strategies, policies and programmes still often fall short of addressing older persons’ right to participate in society and development, and to live safe and dignified lives.

The current situation of the human rights of older persons around the world will be considered. The group will also identify possible gaps and how best to address them, including by considering, as appropriate, the feasibility of further instruments and measures. It will draw on the experience and expertise of Member States, the UN system, NGOs, national human rights institutions, human rights mandate-holders and treaty bodies and a range of stakeholders.

The first session will focus on understanding the current situation of the human rights of older persons around the world. This includes two panel discussions on the existing international and regional human rights frameworks. At the end of the first session the working group is expected to start identifying possible gaps and measures to address them.

For more informartion: http://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/

Preparing for the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)

Stakeholder consultations took place in Geneva on 23-24 February in preparation for the IGF to be held on 27-30 September in Nairobi

Planning for the sixth meeting of the Internet Governance Forum continued with discussions on the agenda and detailed programme. The two-day session was followed by an informal meeting of the Secretary-General’s Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG), moderated by Alice Munyua, Head of Delegation of the Government of Kenya with the support of DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), including the IGF Secretariat.

MAG is recommending that the format and agenda of the sixth IGF largely follow precedents set in previous meetings with an overall theme in 2011 of “Internet as a catalyst for change: access, development, freedoms and innovation.” The Group will reconvene in Geneva in May to continue conference preparation efforts.

The Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) Working Group on Improvements to the IGF also met in Switzerland last week to consider which issues should be the subject of the group’s deliberations and to begin reflecting on these topics.

Specific themes include: Review of the current situation and of IGF versus the Tunis Agenda; improving the IGF and linking it to the broader dialogue on global IT governance as directed by the UN General Assembly Resolution on “Information and communications technologies for development”; enhancing participation of developing countries; outreach to and cooperation with other organizations dealing with IG issues; and options for ensuring predictability, transparency and accountability in financing IGF.

All stakeholders were invited to submit thoughts, comments and points of view by 14 March to be made available as an input to the Working Group’s discussion. The second meeting of the Working Group was scheduled for 24-25 March in Geneva.

At its inter-sessional meeting on 17 December 2010, CSTD decided that the Working Group would be made up of 22 Member States. The Chair of CSTD also invited five representatives from each of the following groups: the business community, civil society, the technical and academic community; and from intergovernmental organizations, to participate and remain fully engaged throughout the process.

DESA was selected to be one of the five participating intergovernmental organizations along with International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the UN Development Programme.

For more information: http://www.intgovforum.org/cms/2011calendar

Getting ready for the 2011 UN Public Service Forum

A preparatory meeting was held in New York on 28 February and 1 March prior to the forum to be held in in Dar es Salaam on 20-23 June

A high-level delegation from Tanzania, headed by the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the President, George Yambesi, met with DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) to discuss and agree upon the structure, organization and logistics of the 2011 United Nations Public Service Forum.

Holding the UN Public Service Forum in Dar es Salaam is very significant as Tanzania will also be hosting Africa Public Service Day, which coincides with the UN Public Service Day, thereby bringing the whole region together. It is expected that over 400 participants will attend this event, including ministers from Africa and other regions of the world, government officials, representatives of international and regional organizations, civil society, and the private sector.

During the preparatory meeting, DPADM made presentations about the workshops to be held during the Forum. It was decided that the Forum will be composed of plenary sessions, capacity development workshops, a ministerial round-table and an inter-generation dialogue round-table. It will conclude with a final declaration with policy recommendations based on the findings of the workshops and the UN Public Service Awards Ceremony.

For more information: http://www.unpan.org/DPADM/UNPSDayAwards/UNPublicServiceAwards/
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