Barbados today recommitted its support to UNESCO, according priority to the provision of financial support.

In his address at the plenary session of the General Policy Debate at the 37th Session of UNESCO???s general conference in Paris, Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, endorsed the Medium-Term Strategy for 2014 ??? 2021 (37/C4) and the Programme and Budget (37/C5).

???Barbados takes note of the work of UNESCO in the preparation of the Post-2015 Global Development Agenda within the UN System. We applaud UNESCO???s efforts and wish to highlight their complementarity with the Post-2015 Development Framework for Education developed by the Commonwealth Education Ministers Working Group in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat.???

He acknowledged that the framework prioritised the need to ensure free, quality, basic education for a minimum of nine years continuously; and to minimise learning outcomes as defined by national standards between more and less advantage groups. He also added that it provided post-basic education and opportunities for all youth and adults to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes to participate fully in society and secure decent work.

Delegates heard that Barbados recognised the role of Technical Vocational Education and Training and the development of employability skills, particularly among our youth. ???TVET remains a priority for Barbados, particularly the preparation of our youth to enhance their skills, competencies and successful entry in the labour force. Barbados, like many other SIDS, regards STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education as integral to their development and looks forward to UNESCO for much needed support,??? he said.

UNESCO was told that the Barbados Declaration and the Barbados Programme of Action was regarded as the blueprint for the sustainable development of SIDS. Emphasising that Barbados considered it vital that an appropriate follow-up be undertaken without delay, Minister Jones said SIDS continued to be vulnerable to shocks over which they had little or no control.

???We are urging that SIDS continue to be accorded the attention they deserve, particularly in respect of climate change and disaster risk reduction and mitigation,??? he added.

The Minister commended the efforts that went into the recent establishment of the Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre which ???brings to the Caribbean a powerful tool to enhance local capabilities in the area of Disaster Risk Reduction??? and said it was important that funds be provided to ensure that it is functional.

Issues of gender and culture were also addressed and Mr. Jones urged that in the formulation of strategies for the implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan II, such issues be integrated more seamlessly across all major programmes and that the specific concerns of countries like Barbados, which relate more to men and boys, be given due recognition.

With respect to culture, he said it was the intention of the island to continue to work within UNESCO to ensure the inclusion of culture in the United Nations Post-2015 Agenda. ???The importance of culture in national development must continue to be emphasised. The significance of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions must be highlighted,??? Mr. Jones said.

The country offered congratulations to Director General Irina Bokova who was recommended by the Executive Board of UNESCO ???to be re-elected to serve another term??? and for her sterling work during the last biennium. And, Anguilla was commended for its admission as an Associated Member of UNESCO.

???We welcome our sister island from the Caribbean to the UNESCO family,??? said Minister Jones.

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