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UNESCO, ECOWAS sign MoU on strategic work plan amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), regional office and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have signed a memorandum of understanding on response to COVID-19 in West African countries.

The signing involved UNESCO’s regional director, Yao Ydo, and ECOWAS commissioner for education, science and culture, Leopoldo Amado, in Abuja.

Ydo said the response was in line with the organisation’s mission of contributing to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue.

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He added that it was in line with the mandate of ECOWAS to promote socio-economic integration and development in all its member states.

“Conscious of the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on health, education, socio-cultural and economic activities of all 15 member-states of ECOWAS, the two entities developed a joint work plan of interventions to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

“The strategic work plan with clear expected results for the immediate and long term includes programmes in the fields of education, science and culture. It includes capacity building interventions to ensure continuity of learning during the pandemic and training in pedagogical and administrative reforms for the reopening of schools in post COVID-19.

“It also includes assistance in strengthening science, technology and innovation (STI), systems and support for the promotion of cultural heritage and artistic expressions,” Ydo said.

The director said UNESCO and ECOWAS had pooled financial and technical resources for the actualisation of the joint response.

According to him, both institutions welcome this important step in their cooperation and committed to further strengthening it to ensure the achievement of the regional and global developmental goals in ECOWAS member states.

Also, UNESCO’s partnership Officer Mrs Magdalene Anene-Maidoh said the COVID-19 pandemic took them by surprise, hence the need to mitigate such occurrences in the future.

Anene-Maidoh stated that the framework of the MoU was targeted at building resilience in the education, science and cultural sectors.

“In the education sector, we are working to improve the capacity of teachers to conform to the requirements of distance learning. We have few teachers that qualify for distance learning, so we are engaging master trainers to coach teachers in the 15 member states.

“We also want to conceptualise the global report requirements of UNESCO in the safe reopening of schools. Our schools need to be reopened in a safe and healthy condition,” she said.

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