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India: UNESCO Must Help End Poverty Illiteracy

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Oct 20 (UNI) India has drawn world attention to challenges posed by the continuance of poverty and illiteracy despite rapid changes, and urged a United Nations agency to respond.

The call was given by Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh currently in Paris, France attending the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's 34th General Conference.

''We live in times that are rapidly, and even bewilderingly, changing,'' said Singh, who took part in the Conference and a Roundtable yesterday. ''We see these changes in our countries and across the world.'' Excerpts of his remarks were made available in New Delhi today.

Singh said, ''Change which helps to reduce illiteracy and disease, and which leads to the spread of knowledge can only be regarded as being a force for the good.

''But not all change is desirable,'' the Indian HRD Minister told delegates. ''There are also situations that do not see the change they warrant.

''In the 21st century there are still, across the world, pockets of abject poverty. So while there is much to celebrate there is even more to cause concern. UNESCO, the heart and mind of the UN system, must be equipped to address these challenges.'' Calling UNESCO the world body's heart and mind with education the core of its mandate, Singh stressed greater effort in pursuit of technical and vocational education, adult education and removal of illiteracy within the framework of Education For All.

Singh stressed science education and popularisation as well as development of a scientific temper. ''It is often forgotten that the ''S'' in UNESCO represents Science.'' Roundtable participants discussing 'Right To Education, Right To Development' were told that in a democracy, economic growth can be sustainable only if it is accompanied by equity and justice.

Singh said development of human resources depends not only on expanding educational opportunity but ensuring its inclusivity.

He told delegates about the Indian government's measures to expand secondary and tertiary education and induce ''positive discrimination.'' On the UN having declared 2nd October the International Day of Non-violence, Singh said, ''All of us in India have been moved greatly by this gesture.'' He said Gandhi, whose memory is invoked by that date, belongs not only to India, but also to the world. His life reflected the very spirit of UNESCO.

Singh recited from the UNESCO's Constitution: ''The wide diffusion of culture and the education of humanity for justice and liberty and peace are indispensable to the dignity of men.'' The Indian HRD Minister also held bilateral meetings with counterparts from Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


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