On the first day of her official visit to Colombia, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met on 1 February in Bogotá with high-level government representatives to outline UNESCO's contribution to the process of consolidating peace and reconciliation.
Irina Bokova met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, whom she congratulated for the signing of the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army (FARC / EP) and for the organization of the 16th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. The Director-General will attend the Summit, which is held in Bogota from 2 to 5 February. The Colombian Foreign Minister highlighted the importance of UNESCO’s support to social and political reintegration through technical education, which is a priority for the government.
The Director-General met with the Minister of Culture, Mariana Garcés Córdoba, the Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, David Luna Sánchez, and the Minister of Education, Yaneth Giha Tovar.
With the Minister of Culture, the Director-General underscored the importance of tangible and intangible heritage as well as cultural industries as drivers of sustainable development.
The Minister of Information and Communication Technologies thanked UNESCO for its support in the regulation of telecommunication facilities and underlined the need to strengthen cooperation on digital literacy in transitional areas. The Director-General noted that "new technologies can support teacher education and training, especially in remote areas, and this is where UNESCO can offer its expertise." The Minister of Education emphasized the relevance of education for citizenship, as well as for economic and social development. Ms. Bokova reaffirmed UNESCO's commitment to advancing quality and inclusive education, and underscored the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for social mobility – this was also underlined by the Director of the National Learning Service (SENA), Alfonso Prada Gil.
Regarding the sciences, the Director-General congratulated the Director of the Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (Colciencias), Alejandro Olaya Dávila, for the work led hand-in-hand between researchers and government authorities for the design of public policies in the field of science.
The Director-General also met with the Director of Post Conflict, Gloria Ospina, and the Director of Coldeportes, Clara Luz Roldan, and led fruitful exchanges on their activities.
On the same day, the Director-General visited the Regional Center for Book Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLALC), a category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO, and the National University of Colombia, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.