UNESCO Director-General arrives in Sri Lanka on first official visit
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova arrived in Colombo on Saturday on her first official visit to Sri Lanka where she will affirm the organisation’s support to the peace and reconciliation process and the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
During her visit from 14-17 August, through a series of public events, visits to world heritage sites and top-level bilateral meetings, UNESCO Director-General will witness the transformation underway in the country and discuss measures to strengthen cooperation to build peace and a sustainable future for all, including through inclusive quality education, science, technology and innovation, cultural heritage, the promotion of cultural diversity and environmental conservation, the UNESCO said in a statement.
At the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bokova will give a lecture on 16 August on ‘Soft Power for Peace and Development’ at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies.
She will visit the South Asian Centre for Teacher Development, an institute under the auspices of UNESCO established in 2012, where she will address a forum on ‘Quality Education through Effective Teacher Development’ with the Minister of Education and the Chairman of the Sri Lanka National Commission for UNESCO, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, on 17 August.
In the realm of science, with Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha, she will participate in a forum on ‘Science & Technology Education’, where she will meet a cross-section of representatives from the scientific community on 16 August.
Bokova will discover the country’s cultural wealth through visits to several of its 8 World Heritage Sites, including the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, where she will witness the Esala Perahera, one of the country’s most celebrated Buddhist festivals that honours the Sacred Tooth Relic kept in the temple. While in the region, she will also visit the University of Peradeniya where she will meet with the Vice Chancellor and members of the university’s faculty.
She is also expected to meet with President Maithripala Sirisena, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Higher Education and Highways Lakshman Kiriella, Minister of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs Senevirathna Bandara Navinna and Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, as well as the wife of the Prime Minister, Prof. Maitree Wickremesinghe, Professor of English at the University of Kelaniya.
Sri Lanka joined UNESCO in 1949 and is currently a Member of the Executive Board for the term 2015-2019.