Fifty-first Lecture - Irina Bokova

Fifty-first Lecture - April 19, 2013

“Promotion of Human Development and Quality Education in the Americas”

Speaker: Irina Bokova, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

It is a great privilege for me to be here today at the Organization of American States for this prestigious Lecture Series. Thank you Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza for your kind words of welcome.

Searching our archives, we found that UNESCO’s first cooperation agreement was signed in 1950 by the prominent Mexican writer and statesman, Jaime Torres Bodet, the Director-General of UNESCO at the time. I am proud to follow in his footsteps more than half a century later. In an increasingly connected, interdependent but also unequal and fragile world, multilateral and regional cooperation is imperative for building more inclusive and sustainable responses to global challenges. I welcome your invitation to focus on education today.

Many years ago, one of Latin America’s great poets and statesman, the Chilean Pablo Neruda, declared before UNESCO’s Executive Board, “Education will be our epic! Education is the most demanding task, the sum of what human beings have done and what they are capable of doing.” When Neruda spoke about an epic, he captured the scale of what is at stake. Education remains our foremost priority. It is at the centre of our fight for human rights, human dignity and human security. Education drives development and prosperity.  

Rights, security, prosperity - these are the overarching goals of the Organization of American States. They are in UNESCO’s DNA – and they start with building peace in the minds of women and men, of girls and boys. We stand at a critical crossroads – 1,000 days from achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals.

Full Speech in English