UNESCO’s Director-General embarks on official high-level visit to South Africa

The Minister of Basic Education, and President of the South African National Commission for UNESCO, Mrs Angie Motshekga, will be hosting the UNESCO Director-General, Madam Audrey Azoulay, on her official high-level visit to South Africa from 15 – 18 April 2024.

Ms Azoulay was re-elected for a second term of four years during the 41st Session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 2017. Simultaneously, South Africa was overwhelmingly elected to the UNESCO Executive Board for a four-year term. To further strengthen relations and cooperation between South Africa and UNESCO, Minister Motshekga invited Ms Azoulay to visit the country.

The proposed programme requires active participation of several departments such as the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) to take the lead in culture-related aspects of the visits such as hosting a visit to Freedom Park, along with a cultural evening; the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) for arrangements related to the World Heritage Convention, such as the visits to the Maropeng Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves; and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to showcase SA’s cooperation with UNESCO on Natural Sciences.

Mr Carlton Mukwevho, Secretary-General of the South African National Commission for UNESCO and Prof Ihron Rensburg, Chair of the NATCOM, will be accompanying Ms Azoulay throughout the visit to both Gauteng and the Western Cape Provinces. Mr Charaf Ahmimed, UNESCO G20 Sherpa, will also accompany the delegation on their Pretoria visits.

The programme will therefore include Bilateral Meetings with Minister Motshekga at the DBE. A courtesy meeting is also envisaged with Deputy President, Mr Paul Mashatile, at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, as well as a tour of the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

In addition, the delegation will be visiting Funda Ujabule Primary School on the Pimville Soweto Campus of the University of Johannesburg to meet with teachers and students to explore teaching in mother-tongue language. Heritage site visits in Cape Town will include a tour to Robben Island Prison and the Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve is also on the cards during the Western Cape leg of the visit. The visit will be an opportunity to deepen the relationship between SA and UNESCO, and will furthermore, provide an opportunity to showcase SA’s linkages with UNESCO’s mandate, in particular education, culture and science.

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