The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, has stressed the potentials of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Clubs and Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet), as powerful tools to enhance UNESCO’s visibility and have a great impact on Nigerian youths.

Yemi-Esan stated this in an address on Monday, 4th April, 2016, at a 2-day training programme jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Education and the Nigerian National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM-UNESCO) for Coordinators of UNESCO Clubs and ASPnet Schools nationwide at the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE), Central Area, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

She informed that the workshop was “consequent upon the recommendations of the 38th Session of the UNESCO General Conference and the 9th Youth Forum to sensitize UNESCO Club Coordinators and ASPnet leaders on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4,Target 7, on culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship education and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution of sustainable development.”

The permanent Secretary,  who was represented by the Director, Tertiary Education, Hajia Hindatu  Abdullahi,  noted that UNESCO Clubs’ past outstanding contributions to regional and global youth encounters and its flagship programme, the Transatlantic Slave Trade (TST) Education Project and Nigeria’s membership of the (defunct) ASPnet Transatlantic Slave Trade (TST) International Task Force, has facilitated among other things, “the production of key educational materials and tool kits for TST schools in TST member countries between 2001 and 2007,” hence, has been the propelling force for reviving ASPnet and the Federation of UNESCO Clubs in Nigeria.

In her brief, the Director/Secretary-General, NATCOM-UNESCO, Mrs. Magdalene Anene-Maidoh, gave an overview of the UNESCO Clubs and ASPnet and the expectations of the Club Coordinators/participants, stating the functions of UNESCO as: laboratory of ideas, including foresight; standard setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues; clearing house for the dissemination and sharing of knowledge and information; builder of institutional and human capacities; and catalyst for international cooperation.

According to her, while the functions of the UNESCO Clubs included: training, dissemination of information and action, the activities of ASPet are conducting effective flagship projects to improve learning, production of innovative educational resource materials, dissemination of good practices, and eventual incorporation into curricular, and that schools used as models to pilot-test innovative educational materials and approaches produced by UNESCO or its partners, launch special campaigns on a study theme linked to international days, years or decades (e.g. International Year of Light 2015/2016)

Concluding, Anene-Maidoh enjoined the participants to give UNESCO visibility in their different communities, giving them tips that could guard them in starting UNESCO Clubs, which include, having the time and resources to run a Club, creating time and venue of meetings, development of a clear, organized annual/term work plan, determining which UNESCO priority areas are best suited for the Club, and staying informed about UNESCO’s activities.

Earlier, the Director, Educational Planning, Research and Development of the Ministry, Dr. Ebenezer Adeola, in his welcome address, echoed the objectives of UNESCO for initiating the UNESCO Clubs and ASPnet, saying they include to promote the Organization’s visibility in communities where they are found, and urged participants to take the training serious, make good use of the rare opportunity, and ensure that they derive maximum benefits from the papers presented.

The goodwill message from the Director, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja, Mr. Benoit Sossou, represented by Mr. Simone Grego, charged the audience, and Nigerians, in general, to imbibe the culture of peace for the nation to make meaningful progress.

The lead paper at the technical session of the workshop, entitled, “Towards a Culture of Peace and Von-violence: The Role of UNESCO Clubs in Nigeria’s Sustainable Development,” was presented by the Executive Secretary of National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma.

Njideka Dimgba

Corporate Affairs Unit