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IGNOU and Unesco ink agreement for cooperation

The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Unesco Monday signed an agreement for cooperation for which the UN body will identify special programmes, facilitate outreach and research activities as well as provide branding to courses.

“We are signing a memorandum of cooperation with Unesco for identifying specific programmes and activities of the university for branding with Unesco. With this, we can carry these activities across the globe,” IGNOU Vice Chancellor V.N. Rajashekharan Pillai said just before signing the agreement.

Unesco Director General Irena G. Bokova, who is on her first official visit to India since she took office in November last year, signed the agreement after which she delivered a special lecture for the university’s Silver Jubilee celebrations.

“Unesco is proud to be associated with the university in a number of fields, including journalism and media literacy, and hosting the Raman chair for Science education. It is a relationship that we look forward to enhancing in light of our mutual commitment to harnessing technology for lifelong learning,” Bokova said.

Bokova said with “enrolments of nearly three million students and networks across the country making the best use of ICT (information communication technology)” IGNOU’s accomplishments are recognised worldwide.

Her lecture on ‘Building Inclusive Knowledge Societies in a Globalised World: Opportunities and Risks’ focused on how globalisation had lifted millions out of poverty but also “deepened inequalities”.

“No society benefits from poverty. The only answer is to consistently work to narrow the divides of income, literacy, knowledge and development.”

The UN body’s head also sounded alarm bells that the target date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals was just five years away, adding that without better education opportunities, achieving them was not possible.

“Education has the potential to act as a catalyst for wider progress across the Millennium Development Goals or as a brake on progress if we fail to invest sufficiently,” she said.

Bokova also appreciated India’s commitment to education saying that the Right of Free and Compulsory Education Act passed in parliament last August was a “historic step”.

However, she also shared that the upcoming 2010 edition of UN’s ‘Education for All – Global Monitoring Report’ which will be launched next week, warns that “education for all is at risk not only because of the economic downturn” but also because countries were not doing enough to address the root cause of marginalisation in education.

–Indo-Asian News Service

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