Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 09, 2015 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis’ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and UNESCO Affairs, Honourable Shawn Richards was an advocate for the strengthening of technical and vocational education when he delivered his presentation at the 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference, November 7, 2015, in Paris, France.

“We urge UNESCO to give special emphasis to the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and skills development programme as a critical priority, especially taking account of the high dropout rate of our young males, and the concomitant consequences of youth violence,” he said, noting the need to also emphasize moral values, attitudes and behaviours conducive to a culture of peace and non-violence, respecting cultural diversity and human rights, with youth at the centre of this philosophy.

Deputy Prime Minister Richards further noted that “we must be able to unleash and discover the full potential and immense talent that lie within our young people in more innovative and creative ways.”

The Minister also took the opportunity to congratulate UNESCO on attaining 70 years of existence and thanked the United Nations organ for its “overwhelming support to my country [St. Kitts and Nevis] in providing expertise and assistance on the ground, notably in education, human science, information society and culture.”

“We live in a world where emerging crises arising from economic, environmental and sovereign state challenges continue to have an adverse impact on the quality of life of citizens who inhabit this earth,” Minister Richards said.  “By any measure, UNESCO has successfully weathered the impact of these storms over the years in delivering its mandate to its member states, especially in the field of Education for All, and, importantly, at all levels.”

He further noted that the “structured intervention and expertise by UNESCO at all levels” is key in order for small island states, faced with immense economic and climate change challenges to their small island economies, to survive in a rapidly changing world.

The aspect of culture was also addressed by Minister Richards.

“Our cultural heritage and its role in boosting tourism, considering our rich and vibrant historical and cultural heritage and legacy must be deployed in a more professional manner as a means of adding value to the tourism sector,” he said, informing that two additional UNESCO cultural conventions will be ratified by St. Kitts and Nevis shortly.

The Deputy Prime Minister said that UNESCO is “strategically well placed to assist our sub-region in amplifying our intercultural dialogue to others based on our cultural heritage.”
The 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference runs from November 3 – 18, 2015 Minister Richards was accompanied by Antonio Maynard, St. Kitts and Nevis’ official representative of the Federation to the UNESCO Executive Board and Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO as well as Dr. David P. Doyle, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis to UNESCO.



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