UNESCO, ECOWAS sign MoU on COVID-19 response

The UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Regional Office and ECOWAS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on response to COVID-19 in West African countries.

The signing of the MoU took place on Friday, by Mr Yao Ydo, UNESCO Regional Director and Mr Leopoldo Amado, ECOWAS Commissioner for Education, Science and Culture in Abuja.

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

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 terms 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 that 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 commit to further strengthening it to ensure the achievement of the regional and global developmental goals in ECOWAS member states.

Also, Mrs Magdalene Anene-Maidoh, UNESCO Partnerships Officer, explained that COVID-19 pandemic took ECOWAS member States by surprise, hence the need to mitigate such occurrences in the future.

Anene-Maidoh said 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.

She added that they were engaging science experts, Ministers of Science and Technology in the 15 member states through a webinar for solutions to mitigate future crisis.

In culture, the official said that artists were engaged to create messages on their art works and avail them virtually.

“Artists are not working now; most of them have lost sources of livelihood because nobody goes to the museums.

“We are engaging these artists so as to create virtual access to museums and what they have,” she said.

According to her, the implementation of the framework has been drawn to last from June until December 2020.(NAN)