The Holy Cross Convent Learners commemorate the devastating blood bath of the Rwanda Genocide

Holy cross rwanda outreachMonday, 7th of April 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide.  The grade 7 learners of the Holy Cross Convent embraced the learning opportunity of atrocities whereby more than 800 000 people, mostly Tutsi men, women and children, were systematically hunted down and murdered over a period of 100 days.

The outreach programme organized by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) focused on remembering those that lost their lives in the events of 1994, the Rwanda genocide. The task of confronting the causes and consequences of genocide is imperative for people everywhere.

The educational initiative included a video screening on survivor testimonies from the SURF website.

During the 10 minute video screening, the learners who were comprised of 70% girls and 30% boys totalling to the amount of 50 learners all within the age group of 11- 13 years of age, watched attentively and sympathised when the survivors gave their testimonies on genocidal acts that they experienced e.g. one survivor testified on how she “was forced to drink blood from dead people”. This made the audience (the learners cringe and make sounds that sympathised with the survivor testimony).

holy cross rwanda 2In a survey done by UNIC, the awareness level of the learners ranged from 1-2, (indicating that most of them have never heard about the topic). As part of the centre’s commitment to raise awareness about genocide the UNIC team’s lesson plan provided a brief overview of the Rwanda Genocide and the types of behaviour and actions which may lead to genocide.  The lesson plan also outlined to teach learners about the need to take responsibility for any type of abuses and to speak out for those with no voice.

 The learner’s profound interest on the subject brought up following questions: Where there any white people in Rwanda during the genocide?

What is an ethnic group?

What is a Tutsi?

Why were they fighting?

After the Q & A from the audience, the principal of the School Mrs Kohlberg, asked the learners what impact the presentation had on them and why they think we should remember this event. A female learner replied, “so that when we grow up, we can are able to prevent such future genocides from happening”.

holy cross rwanda 3The feedback UNIC received from teachers is that it serves as a good complement to teaching about the Holocaust, in terms of placing in a contemporary context the continuing need to teach the importance of prevention of genocide.

 

International Day of Happiness is celebrated in Namibia

audience 2    the audience The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal, and spurred the official establishment of International Day of Happiness by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 June 2012.The United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Windhoek celebrated International Day of Happiness through an exciting and engaging programme hosted at Jan Möhr Secondary school on 20 March 2014 with visitors from other schools adding to the celebration.

The Secretary General’s speech Ban Ki-moon was read to the students highlighting that “Happiness may have different meanings for different people. But we can all agree that it means working to end conflict, poverty and other unfortunate conditions in which so many of our fellow human beings live.”

UNIC Windhoek presented an overview to illustrate the differences between Gross National Happiness (GNH) and Gross National Product (GNP) to the six hundred high school learners in attendance. The presentation was followed by a video clip which further enhanced the youngsters’ understanding of the importance of GNH.

the panelists

The Panellists

 

 The centre then facilitated a panel discussion, which quickly turned into an interactive debate not only among the panellists but also involving the audience members who were eager to add their two cents. The panel comprised of Festus Morgan Bock  who represented The Youth Economic Empowerment Programme, Netumbo Nekombathe, a journalist from The Namibian Newspaper (Youth paper), Ruchena Habasonda, from  the UNAM Economics Society, Wilmari Horn, Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek and Michael Mulunga from theYoung Achievers Empowerment Project.

The panellists divulged that both GNP and GNH are important and that the one will not continue to exist without the other. Gross National Happiness is not a new term to Namibians, as Michael Mulunga related. The Young Achievers Empowerment Project conducted a study to measure happiness in Namibia during 2012. Although the results have not been published yet, the survey did indicate that GNH is possible to implement in Namibia, although he related that there is still a long way to go as it is difficult to measure qualitative data such as happiness.

In general the panellists agreed that in order to achieve Vision 2030, “we, the youth, must be educated” said Bock from the Youth Economic Empowerment Programme. Nekomba further encouraged the youth to pen their concerns and offer solutions via the Youth Paper. ”The youth must raise their voices and put their arguments and opinions in the public sphere,” she said.

The audience passionately participated and asked the panellists questions, contributing to an engaging, lively and well structured debate. UNIC served the 600 learners a refreshing soft drink following the debate. The event was concluded with Pharrel Williams’ song “Happy” ending the day on a positive note for all the learners who attended.

old age homegrup pic

Thereafter, individuals from the MUN Club at Jan Möhr showed off their baking skills by preparing home-made muffins for an old age home in a disadvantaged area in Windhoek. The youngsters felt the need to spread a dose of happiness to the elderly, they entertained the golden oldies with music and games. It was indeed an eventful and happy day!

 

 

Launch of Education for All Global Monitoring Report and the “Quality Teachers for EFA” project in Namibia

From left to right:  Dr Charmaine B. Villet, Dean, Faculty of Education, UNAM, Ms Sandra van Zyl, Director, Higher Education, Ministry of Education ( Member of CFIT team), Dr Qian TANG, UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education, Hon. Dr David Namwandi, Minister of Education, Mr Li Yigang, Deputy Chief of Mission, People's Republic of China  , Dr Matengu ( UNAM)

From left to right: Dr Charmaine B. Villet, Dean, Faculty of Education, UNAM, Ms Sandra van Zyl, Director, Higher Education, Ministry of Education ( Member of CFIT team), Dr Qian TANG, UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education, Hon. Dr David Namwandi, Minister of Education, Mr Li Yigang, Deputy Chief of Mission, People’s Republic of China , Dr Matengu ( UNAM)

On Monday the 24th of February 2014, the official launch of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2013/2014 took place. Dr. Qian TANG, UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education provided a comprehensive overview of the report. “This year’s Report, under the title Teaching and learning: Achieving quality for all, warns that without attracting and adequately training enough teachers the learning crisis will last for several generations and hit the disadvantaged the hardest,” Dr Qian TANG highlighted.  In addition, the “Enhancing Teacher Education for Bridging the Education Quality gap in Sub Saharan Africa” was also launched under the Funds in Trust agreement between UNESCO and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

Hon. Minister of Education, Dr David Namwandi

Hon. Minister of Education, Dr David Namwandi & Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek Ms Emma Theophilus

The Report launch was honoured with the presence of the Honourable Minister of Education Dr David Namwandi, who invited one of the speakers the Junior Mayor of Windhoek, Ms Emma Theophilus to the stage following her insight on the report.  He noted that the education system in Namibia must be doing something right as it has produced an excellent learner such as Ms Theophilus.  He noted that the Namibian Government is the only Government in the World that spends close to twenty five percent of its national budget on education, emphasising the commitment of the government to Education.

A panel discussion was held whereby panellists responded to the motion of the global learning crisis and the role of policy in this crisis. The panel consisted of the Secretary General’s of the teachers union in Namibia, namely NANTU, the President of TUN, the Director of NIED as well as the Junior Mayor of the City of Windhoek, a learner from Khomas High School in Windhoek.

Other speakers who spoke during the official programme  included the  Dean of Faculty of Education from the University of Namibia, Dr Charmaine Villet, Ms Sandra van Zyl, Director, Higher Education, Ministry of Education as well as the Deputy Chief of Mission, People’s Republic of China, Mr Li Yigang.

UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education,  Dr Qian Tang.

UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education, Dr Qian Tang.

 

 

Learners reflect on International Mother Tongue Day

mother language day final

In commemoration of International Mother Tongue Day, Windhoek High School (Model United Nations Namibia) MUNNAM Society members demonstrated the importance of the day by presenting a short programme to the entire school.  “Recognising local languages enables more people to make their voices heard and take an active part in their collective fate,” the chairman of the society, read excerpts from the Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO.

 The learners wrote and delivered speeches to their fellow learners in some of the local Namibian languages as well as Spanish. The learners were excited to highlight the diversity of languages available at their own school campus. As part of their Model United Nations activities with the United Information Centre, the WHS MUNNAM Society actively engages organises and celebrates international commemorative days as a tool to heighten the awareness of the work of the United Nations at their school. UNIC Windhoek is proud to support and nurture this club to become active ambassadors.

Secretary General’s Message for International Mother Language Day

mother language day final

International Mother Language Day celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity alongside multilingualism as a force for peace and sustainable development.

 As we work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals while mapping out a post-2015 sustainable development agenda, this diversity can encourage dialogue, mutual understanding, innovation and creativity. This in turn can help us build more just and inclusive societies. As the late President Nelson Mandela once said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”.

The theme of this year’s observance spotlights the vital role of local languages in advancing science.  This will help ensure that the latest scientific knowledge is more widely shared.  At the same time, it will help deepen and enrich our global knowledge base with more traditional but often overlooked scientific wisdom.

Let us all join forces to promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism as a key element in our efforts to build a better world and a life of dignity for all.

Ministry of Defence invites UNIC to lecture about the UN

Attending Officers are pictured here with UNIC Staff

Officers who participated are pictured here with UNIC Staff

The Namibian Command and Staff College had its seventh intake of Junior Staff Course (JSC) at the Namibia Command and Staff College in Karibib.  The aim of the course is to broaden student officers’ background in various fields relating to Government and International organizations.

In light hereof, the United Nations Information Centre Windhoek was invited to conduct a public lecture to the officers (ranging from Majors, Captains and Lieutenants).  Ms Anthea Basson from UNIC guided the officers through the background of how the UN came into being, guiding principles of the Charter, main bodies and functions as well as the leadership internationally and locally.  Her presentation was informative and comprehensive and outlined the important role the UN plays globally.

After the presentation, the officers took a five minute break to deliberate on what they had been taught and formulate some questions. What followed was a question and answer session. Captain Martin asked, “ Who signed the UN charter for Namibia as we were not independent in 1945”, another Officer asked, “how the non permanent members of the Security Council are elected,” these and many other questions were answered during the question and answer session.

The Officers officially thanked UNIC for the informative lecture. UNIC left reading material for their library and thanked the Ministry of Defence for the invitation.

 

 

Secretary General’s Message for the World Day of Social Justice

SG at SC stakeout

The gap between the poorest and the wealthiest around the world is wide and growing. This situation is not only between countries but within them, including many of the most prosperous.  The World Day of Social Justice is observed to highlight the power of global solidarity to advance opportunity for all.

Circumstances such as where a person is born, where they live or their gender and ethnicity should never determine their income or their opportunities for quality education, basic healthcare, decent work, adequate shelter, access to drinking water, political participation or living free from threatened, or actual, physical violence.

As inequalities widen, the social fabric of our societies is both stretched and strained. This often leads to a downward spiral of economic and social uncertainty and even unrest. Violent conflict in many parts of the world is often rooted in deep inequality, discrimination, and widespread poverty.

Yet there is nothing inevitable about inequality. Our shared goal should aim at taking practical steps to remove this formidable barrier to development and human dignity.

Experience shows that economic growth, on its own, is not sufficient. We must do more to empower individuals through decent work, support people through social protection, and ensure the voices of the poor and marginalised are heard.  As we continue our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and shape a post-2015 development agenda, let us make social justice central to achieving equitable and sustainable growth for all.

Report launch of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people in Namibia

Prof. James AnayaOn 20-28 September 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Prof. James Anaya, visited Namibia to conduct a study and national consultative process.

His mission was to examine the situation of indigenous peoples of Namibia in light of the UN Declaration on the Rights for Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). UNDRIP was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007 with the affirmative vote of Namibia. Anaya’s visit was at the request of the Republic of Namibia and was facilitated by national organisations and the Indigenous Peoples of AfricaCoordinatingCommittee (IPACC).

Stakeholders present included the Ombudsman, diplomatic community, NGOs and media

Stakeholders present included the Ombudsman, diplomatic community, NGOs and media

The United Nations Information Centre Windhoek coordinated the launch and invited the media. The Special Rapporteur Prof. James Anaya presented his findings to the media and stakeholders including the Ombudsman Mr John Walters, representatives from Indigenous Communities, the diplomatic community and other key stakeholders from the Legal Assistance Centre etc.

Prof. Anaya expressed his findings via video conference and copies of his report was availed to the media and key stakeholders.The report contains recommendations regarding the human rights of indigenous peoples of Namibia, including the right to maintain their distinctive identities and cultures, secure right to land and resources and recognition of their sophisticated traditional knowledge.

Anaya noted that Namibia has made some commendable efforts through its Constitution and legislation to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are respected and protected. “Especially in recent years, the government has entered some innovative arrangements with San tribes through which they have been able to increase their control over management of land areas”, as stated in the report. Mr. Joram Useb, Southern Africa Programme Officer of IPACC,  further emphasized in his welcoming speech that he believed that the recommendations mentioned in the report would be taken seriously by all stakeholders during the implementation process to the upholding of the rights of the indigenous people.

In 2013, during the National Human Rights Action Plan Consultative Conference in Windhoek the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, said that “Namibia’s recent election as member of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations is a manifestation of how far the country has come as a nation from the past of colonialism, racism, apartheid, social injustice and gender inequality and economic exploitation. This election should however not make us complacent but should rather encourage the continuation of our best efforts to become a shining example in Africa, if not the world,” he said.

reportThe report launch was well attended and was concluded with a question and answer session with Prof. Anaya. The report is available online at : http://unsr.jamesanaya.org/country-reports/the-situation-of-indigenous-peoples-in-namibia

World Radio Day is celebrated in Namibia 2014

Namibia joined the rest of the world on February 13, 2014 in commemorating World Radio Day under the theme “Gender equality and Women’s Empowerment in Radio.”

Some of the Radio station presenters and station managers present on the day

Namibian Radio stations stand shoulder to shoulder to celebrate their trade

The public engagement provided an important platform for humanity to raise awareness of the importance of radio in national development. The day drew attention by improving coverage of issues affecting women and increasing female representation in the industry. The unique value of radio, still remains the cheapest and most accessible medium to reach the widest rural audience in Namibia.

 It is a well-known fact that an informed woman is an empowered woman. Radio serves as an important tool from which women can obtain information to empower themselves to move out of poverty or to make their voices heard in the national democratic making process.

This year’s event took place in the Zoo Park in Windhoek. The official opening was officiated by Hon. Rosalia Nghidiniwa, Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Deputy-Minister Hon Stanley Simaata from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Ambassador Raul Fuentes Milani, EU Head of Delegation Ambassador, Ms. Cecilia Barbieri, UNESCO Officer in Charge, Mr Musinga T. Bandora, UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia, as well as a representative from the Namibia Broadcasting cooperation.

Mr Musinga Bandora, UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia, delivered a speech

Mr Musinga Bandora, UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia, delivered a speech

 All ten radio station vocalised the topic, to eliminate stereotypes and to strengthen women’s position in the radio. The event was broadcast live from the Zoo Park by DJs, radio presenters in English, Afrikaans, Otjiherero, German, Khoisan, Oshiwambo through 10 minute slots, covering a gender related topic.

NBC German Radio Station Presenters delivered an exciting slot with sound effects and skits

NBC German Radio Station Presenters delivered an exciting slot with sound effects and skits

 The public were invited to participate and actively showed engagement through participating in various panel discussions. The youngsters present discussed “how the portrayal of women and girls in the media affects the youth. During the panel discussions, it became evident that radio placed too much emphasis on entertainment, news rather than unpacking critical national issues and real news worthy topics. The participants and the audience agreed that there needs to be less talk and more action in Namibia to reach the equal treatment of both sexes.

 

The Secretary General’s Message on World Radio Day

Radio Day facebook cover image-01[4]

 

13 February, 2014: World Radio Day recognizes the unique role and impact of a medium that reaches the largest audience worldwide.

 This year’s observance highlights the need for radio broadcasters everywhere to promote the voice of women and to enhance the role of women within broadcast organizations.

 The airwaves have frequently lagged behind when it comes to gender equality.

 Not nearly enough women’s voices are heard — either in front or behind the microphone.

 Not nearly enough stories about women and girls are being told.

 And women make up only a quarter of the members of the boards of the world’s media enterprises.

I encourage radio stations to be more inclusive by equally recognizing women in their staff and in their audience.

 Radio can also help dismantle stereotypical and imbalanced programming.

 This is an opportunity for everyone.  Let us celebrate this World Radio Day by saluting women in radio today — and doing our utmost to nurture the new voices for tomorrow.