The Nehru Centre, London has hosted a vibrant event marking the recognition of Garba as Intangible Cultural Heritage of India by UNESCO recently.
Organised by Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence, the multi-dimensional aspects of the event included Master Class on Garba, commemoration of Garba’s cultural significance and live Garba performances.
Sanjay Sharma, Deputy Director of TNC gave his opening remarks on the occasion, and the concept note was presented by Ragasudha Vinjamuri, Founder of Sanskruti Centre. Traditional Garba song was presented by Pravina Vandra and Vasanti Parmar.
Tributes to Garba through performances were presented by Dr Krishna Patel and Dina Kukadia. Senior performer, folklore singer Satish Shah engaged audiences with his master class on Garba, supported by his team members Rashmita Shah and Jyoti Shah.
Dhvani and Dhru representing D-Style Dance to Inspire presented the finale garba performance that captivated the audience. Ovessa Iqbal and Sanjay Kumar Sutar from the High Commission of India were in attendance at the program, besides other community leaders.
After Accra in 2023, and Strasbourg in 2024, I am pleased to announce the designation of Rio de Janeiro as World Book Capital for 2025.” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay…reports Asian Lite News
The UNESCO has decided to designate Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) as the World Book Capital for 2025.
“Books are vital vehicles to access, transmit and promote education, science, culture and information worldwide. Thanks to books, we keep ourselves informed, entertained and are able to better understand our world. This is why, each year UNESCO designates a World Book Capital. After Accra in 2023, and Strasbourg in 2024, I am pleased to announce the designation of Rio de Janeiro as World Book Capital for 2025.” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay
UNESCO and the World Book Capital Advisory Committee commended Rio de Janeiro’s demonstration of the importance of its literary heritage alongside a clearly defined vision and action plan to promote literature, sustainable publishing and reading among young people tapping into digital technologies. This is the first time that a Portuguese-speaking city has been designated World Book Capital.
In line with priorities expressed in the World Book Capital Charter, Rio de Janeiro conceives its project as having the ability to affect social change – through, for example, literacy, education and poverty eradication – and bring sustainable economic benefit linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The year of celebrations will start on 23 April 2025, on World Book and Copyright Day.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading for all ages and groups, within and across national borders, and to organize a programme of activities for the year.
In 2019, Sharjah was designated as UNESCO World Book Capital.
The local adaptation of these traditions resulted in a distinctive artistic tradition known as the Si Thep School of Art, which later influenced other civilisations in Southeast Asia…reports Asian Lite News
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has listed the ancient town of ‘Si Thep’ and its associated ‘Dvaravati Monuments’ in Phetchabun province as a cultural world heritage site, bringing the number of World Heritage Sites in Thailand to seven.
Si Thep is located about 340 km north of Bangkok in the Phetchabun province, a region known for breathtaking vistas, and misty mountains that serve as a camping and trekking paradise. The ancient town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List during the World Heritage Committee’s 45th extended session held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
According to the World Heritage List, the ancient town of Si Thep and its associated Dvaravati Monuments is a serial property of three component parts: A distinctive twin-town site, featuring an Inner and Outer Town surrounded by moats, the massive Khao Klang Nok ancient monument, and the Khao Thamorrat Cave ancient monument.
Together these sites represent the architecture, artistic traditions, and religious diversity of the Dvaravati Empire that thrived in Central Thailand from the 6th to the 10th centuries, demonstrating the influences from India. The local adaptation of these traditions resulted in a distinctive artistic tradition known as the Si Thep School of Art, which later influenced other civilisations in Southeast Asia.
The other existing World Heritage Sites in Thailand comprise three cultural sites – Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns (1991), Historic City of Ayutthaya (1991), and Ban Chiang Archaeological Site (1992) – and three natural sites – Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries (1991), Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex (2005), and Kaeng Krachan Forest Complex (2021).
Among Phetchabun’s famous attractions are several national parks – Khao Kho, Nam Nao, Phu Hin Rong Kla, and Thung Salaeng Luang – and its highest mountain Phu Thap Boek, the five overlapping white Buddha statues of Wat PhrathatPha Son Kaeo, and That Yai Waterfall – one of the 25 finalists in the ‘Unseen New Chapters’ campaign.
To commemorate the listing, the Fine Arts Department is waiving the admission fees at Si Thep Historical Park from 20 to 24 September 2023. The Department is also hosting a special exhibition about Si Thep Historical Park and its world heritage significance at the Bangkok National Museum from 20 September 2023 to 14 January 2024.
The report by Ij-Reportika also sheds light on China’s rising influence ensuing reactions from other global players, most notably the US, as they gear up to counter China’s actions within the organization…reports Asian Lite News
A report by Ij-Reportika has shed fresh light into China’s deep role in UNESCO and how the world body is fast turning into a battleground between Beijing and Washington.
The dynamics of the UNESCO-China alliance, encompassing various aspects such as increased funding, the presence of Chinese personnel in top management roles, the controversial blockade of Taiwan’s participation, and the alleged rewriting of history to suit China’s narrative.
The report also analysed China’s rising influence ensuing reactions from other global players, most notably the US, as they gear up to counter China’s actions within the organization. The report also sheds light into the controversies surrounding the publication “The UNESCO Courier” and UNESCO’s handling of intangible cultural heritage, particularly the inclusion of Sowa Rigpa and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
In a deep dive into UNESCO’s tumultuous history, the report unearthed significant controversies that have shaped its reputation over the years. Some of the issues raised include the Israel-Palestine dispute, the Palestinian youth magazine controversy, and the Islamic University of Gaza controversy.
It also goes on to reveal instances of corruption within UNESCO and explore the contentious issue of the New World Information and Communication Order. The report also delves into UNESCO’s role in mediating the Kurdish-Turkish conflict, assessing the challenges faced and the outcomes achieved.
China has been increasing its influence in UNESCO in recent years. This is evident as Beijing is now the largest contributor to UNESCO’s annual budget, providing around $65 million. This gives China a significant say in how UNESCO’s resources are allocated.
China also has several people in top management positions at UNESCO, including Xing Qu, who is the deputy director general. This gives China a strong voice in decision-making at the agency. Meanwhile, Qian Tang is UNESCO’s president of International Bureau of Education that is responsible for promoting education around the world. Qian Tang has been a strong advocate for China’s educational policies in UNESCO. She has worked to promote China’s experience in education and to ensure that China’s voice is heard in the organization’s decision-making process.
Meanwhile, Zhang Xu, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of China to UNESCO has been a strong advocate for China’s cultural heritage in UNESCO. He has worked to promote China’s World Heritage sites and to ensure that China’s voice is heard in the organization’s decision-making process.
In 2018, China hosted the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference. This was the first time that China had hosted the conference since 1980.
In 2019, China launched the “Silk Roads: Roads of Dialogue” initiative, which is a UNESCO-led project to promote cultural cooperation along the ancient Silk Road.
In 2020, China was elected to the UNESCO Executive Board for a four-year term.
In 2023, the United Nations celebrated Chinese Language Day on April 18 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The theme of the 2023 event, “Chinese Wisdom for a Green World,” reflected China’s growing influence in the multilateral body.
French writer Nicolas Idier mentioned that the French government places great importance on Chinese language education, with over 40,000 French middle school students learning Chinese between 2022 and 2023.
US, China tussle
Meanwhile, UNESCO’s governing board voted 132-10 on Friday to accept the US proposal to rejoin the Paris-based agency. The North American country’s membership will become official once Secretary of State Antony Blinken, or a designee, formally accepts the invitation, according to White House officials.
Blinken said the vote would “restore US leadership on a host of issues of importance and value to the American people”.
“I am encouraged and grateful that today the membership accepted our proposal, which will allow the United States to take the next, formal steps toward fully rejoining the organisation,” he said in a statement.
Russian, Palestinian and North Korean representatives had held up consideration of the US proposal on Thursday with hours of procedural delays. That session was adjourned due to fatigue on the part of UNESCO interpreters.
In addition to Russia, North Korea and the Palestinians, those that voted against readmitting the US were Belarus, China, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Nicaragua and Syria.
The administration of US President Joe Biden had announced in early June that the US would apply to rejoin the organisation mainly because it was concerned that China was filling the gap left in its absence. The 193-member UNESCO plays a major role in setting international standards for artificial intelligence and technology education around the world.
The administration of former President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that the US would withdraw from UNESCO, citing anti-Israel bias. That decision took effect a year later.
The US and Israel stopped financing UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member state in 2011. The Biden administration has requested $150m from the 2024 budget to go towards UNESCO dues and arrears. The plan foresees similar requests for the ensuing years until the full debt of $619m is paid off.
That makes up a big chunk of UNESCO’s $534m annual operating budget. Before leaving, the US contributed 22 percent of the agency’s overall funding.
Israel has long accused the United Nations of anti-Israel bias. In 2012, over Israeli objections, the state of Palestine was recognised as a non-member observer state by the General Assembly.
Kassem Istanbouli is a Lebanese actor and director. Since 2014, he has led the rehabilitation of historical cinemas in Lebanon, including Stars Cinema in Nabatieh, and Al-Hamra and Rivoli in Tyre, abandoned or destroyed during civil war…reports Asian Lite News
Kassem Istanbouli, Lebanese actor-director, and Hajer Ben Boubaker, French researcher and sound director, were awarded the 19th UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture at an award ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 26th June 2023.
The event, organised by the Sharjah Department of Culture in collaboration with UNESCO, celebrated the achievements of two winners.
The ceremony was attended by Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of the Sharjah Department of Culture; Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, Assistant Director-General for Culture at UNESCO; Mohammed Ibrahim Al Qasir, Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs in Sharjah; Ahmed Al Mulla, Deputy Ambassador of the UAE to France, and Aisha Al Kamali, Representative of the Cultural Attaché at the Embassy of the UAE in France, along with dignitaries, writers, intellectuals and accredited diplomats to the United Nations (UN).
Al Owais and Ramirez presented the 19th edition of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture to Istanbouli, winner of the Arab Personality Award, and Ben Boubaker, winner of the Non-Arab Personality Award.
The UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture recognizes recipients’ outstanding artistic achievements celebrating Arab art and culture globally. Core to UNESCO’s anti-racism and anti-discrimination agenda, the Prize promotes peace and dialogue to foster intercultural understanding and celebrate diversity.
For this 19th edition of the Prize, the international jury recognized Mr Istanbouli and Ms Ben Boubaker’s extraordinary contributions to promoting the arts and Arab culture and supporting their local communities.
Kassem Istanbouli is a Lebanese actor and director. Since 2014, he has led the rehabilitation of historical cinemas in Lebanon, including Stars Cinema in Nabatieh, and Al-Hamra and Rivoli in Tyre, abandoned or destroyed during civil war.
Mr Istanbouli is involved with several international projects focused on skills enhancement, youth empowerment and collaborative partnerships. In 2020 he co-founded the Arab Culture and Arts Network (ACAN) to design and implement online cultural activities across the Arab region. The Network includes over 700 organizational and individual members from across the world.
Mr Istanbouli is also director and founder of the Lebanese National Theater in Tyre and the Lebanese National Theater in Tripoli and has been a project manager at the Tiro Association for Arts in Lebanon since 2014.
Hajer Ben Boubaker is a French-Tunisian independent researcher and sound director. Her research focuses on a socio-historical analysis of Arab music and the cultural history of the Maghreb community in France and around the world.
In 2018, she created and self-produced the Vintage Arab podcast, which explores Arabic musical heritage. At the intersection of research and art, the podcast allows her to keep a foot in each sphere.
Ms Ben Boubaker is a producer and documentary director for France Culture, where her work questions the sound and political memory of immigration. As a researcher, she is associated with the Arab and Oriental music collection at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, and continues to write for scientific journals, including “Paris, capitale maghrébine: une histoire Populaire” in October 2023.
Created in 1998 and run by UNESCO at the initiative of the United Arab Emirates, the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize awards two laureates per year — individuals, groups or institutions — in recognition of their contribution to Arab art and culture, or for participating in the dissemination of the latter outside the Arab world.
The initiative contributes towards the Organization’s objective of fostering inclusive, resilient and peaceful societies. The Prize carries a monetary value of USD 60,000, which is equally divided between the two laureates.
Findings showed that the education sector will need an injection of funds if countries are to meet their targets…reports Asian Lite News
Without USD 97 billion in extra funding, a range of countries will fail to meet their 2030 national education targets, a new UN report revealed on Friday, calling for an urgent review of financing.
The paper “Can countries afford their national SDG4 benchmarks?” by the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was written as input for the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It focused on Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Findings showed that the education sector will need an injection of funds if countries are to meet their targets.
In addition to mobilising additional resources, strategies are needed to increase the effectiveness of funding.
The largest financing gap is in sub-Saharan Africa: USD 70 billion per year. The region has the furthest distance to travel, with 20 per cent of primary school-age children and almost 60 per cent of upper secondary school-age youth not in school.
Around one-third of the gap could be filled if donors fulfilled their aid commitments and prioritised basic education in the poorest countries, the report found.
Other key findings emphasise that costs include the need to triple the number of pre-primary teachers in low-income countries and double them in lower-middle-income countries by 2030. The number of primary school teachers needs to increase by nearly 50 per cent in low-income countries.
While the full impact of Covid-19 pandemic disruptions remains unknown, the report found that costs also include making up for massive learning losses that exacerbated the pre-existing learning crisis. Only half of children and adolescents are now prepared for the future having completed their education and with minimum proficiency in reading.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of low and lower-middle-income countries had cut their public education spending in the first year following the onset of the pandemic in 2020. (ANI/WAM)
The Kingdom’s speech at the opening session focused on its endeavor to achieve sustainable development and the ambitious goals of Saudi Vision 2030…reports Asian Lite News
Saudi Arabia is taking part in the 215th session of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The Kingdom’s delegation for the session, which runs until Oct. 19 in Paris, includes Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, Saudi’s permanent representative to UNESCO and the chairwoman of the organization’s programs and external relations committee; Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al-Blaihed, secretary-general of the Saudi National Committee for Education, Culture and Science; and experts from the ministries of culture and education and the Human Rights Commission.
The Kingdom’s speech at the opening session focused on its endeavor to achieve sustainable development and the ambitious goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
Saudi Arabia stressed its support for all efforts aimed at developing mechanisms for knowledge exchange, setting national policies and strategic plans, encouraging investment, and supporting culture.
The Kingdom also highlighted how it is addressing the climate crisis through its Middle East Green Initiative, which aims to enhance cooperation in the region and supports Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a leader in the field of sustainability at a global level.
Saudi Arabia’s participation in the session is part of its efforts to support culture, education and science — led by Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan.
The educational initiative at KISS comprises a school, a college and a university founded with the objective of providing food, education and empowerment to indigenous children…reports Asian Lite News
Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS), Bhubaneswar has won the prestigious UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize 2022 for its outstanding literacy programme based on the recommendations of an international jury.
The UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize is sponsored by the Government of the Republic of Korea and recognizes contributions to mother language-based literacy development. KISS has received the award in the category of ‘Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education programme’. The award carries an endowment of US USD 20,000, a medal and a diploma. KISS is a constituent of the KIIT Group of Institutions.
KISS, the largest institute for the indigenous students in the world, is credited with the adoption of innovative pedagogies as learning tools and bringing about a perceptible change in the socio-economic lives of the indigenous population through education. This recognition also brings the state of Odisha to prominence on the world map for its efforts at changing the education ecosystem. Moreover, it is also a big day of celebration for indigenous communities as it is truly an award for them.
KISS is a not-for-profit organisation headquartered in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. It was established in 1992-93 by well-known educationist Dr Achyuta Samanta to empower the indigenous population through education. It is a fully free residential educational institution that provides holistic education, comprehensive skilling and sports empowerment.
The educational initiative at KISS comprises a school, a college and a university founded with the objective of providing food, education and empowerment to indigenous children.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Paris and was welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening…reports Asian Lite News
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General Audrey Azoulay held a meeting in Paris, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Friday.
The pair discussed the Kingdom’s cultural initiatives and ways to enhance bilateral cooperation.
Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan and Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Mogrin, the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UNESCO, attended the meeting.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in Paris and was welcomed by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening.
A wide-ranging meeting headed by the French president and crown prince, and a dinner banquet, were held at the Elysee Palace.