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Antigua and Barbuda has taken a significant step towards promoting education by signing the Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas, and Degrees in Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In addition to this, the country’s Education Minister, Daryll Matthew, has announced plans to ratify two other UNESCO conventions – the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education and the Convention on Technical and Vocational Education.
These conventions are seen as tangible results of UNESCO’s efforts to promote education in the region, and are expected to have a positive impact on the country’s education sector.
“UNESCO’s achievements also extend to preserving crucial heritage, both cultural and natural, demonstrating its commitment to the common good of humanity,” he said
Meanwhile Matthew cautioned against what he described as a potential threat that could undermine our ability to carry out these essential missions.
“The danger to which I refer is the politicization of discussions and issues within UNESCO. Our organization can only effectively act for the common good when its full attention and resources are directed toward its missions. This colleagues, is far from guaranteed, even in the best of circumstances,” he added
Therefore, Matthew told the audience that it is of utmost importance that UNESCO does not to get drawn into conflicts, however grave they may be, between member states.
“Whether it’s geopolitical confrontations, territorial disputes, independence struggles, or civil wars; UNESCO must not serve as a platform for settling scores among nations. While it is agreed that we cannot ignore the challenges of our civilization, we as an organization, must be cautious not to take sides in matters beyond our jurisdiction,” he added
Matthew asked those listening keenly to his presentation that they should imagine if the UN Security Council were to handle matters related to the protection of global cultural heritage.
“We would find such a concept unimaginable, unwise and unacceptable. The same principle must apply, and we must always be mindful of it while dedicating ourselves to UNESCO’s core challenges,” he said
Antigua and Barbuda, through the education minister also emphasize two areas that, in our view, deserve UNESCO’s utmost attention.
“Firstly, the protection of natural sites and oceans. Much has been done to safeguard the World Cultural Heritage, which is well-known to the public and our member states. However, the protection of globally significant natural sites and seas, a UNESCO responsibility, is not as widely recognized and developed. Many natural sites still require protection or enhanced safeguarding, and for small island developing states like Antigua and Barbuda, our very existence depends on this”, he said
The other issue raised is the technical assistance for small and developing states.
“I understand the formidable challenges that small and resource-limited nations face when asserting their rights and viewpoints within a multilateral diplomatic system like UNESCO. It demands frequent participation in meetings and extensive document preparation. We live these challenges every day, they are a part of our reality,” he explained
Matthew says technical assistance is essential to ensure all states can engage on equal terms within UNESCO.
He said this support should encompass not only training but also financial assistance.
“For instance, funding is crucial for the effective protection of globally significant sites within small and resource-limited states.
Direct financial support is necessary to ensure that agreements made by these nations lead to real legislative changes and tangible improvements in people’s lives.
“In conclusion, the core message we wish to convey is this: Let us ensure that our resources and focus are directed toward the very priorities that underpin UNESCO’s existence, thereby effecting meaningful improvements for the populations of our member states,” he added