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Bangkok, 4 Jun 04
A study visit by two education ministers and senior education administrators from Africa to Thailand has further strengthened UN-HABITAT’s cooperation with the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and the Government of Thailand.

Organised as part of UN-HABITAT’s Values-based Water Education Programme (VBWE), the three-day study visit May 24-26 was aimed at sharing of experiences and best practices on VBWE, to familiarise the delegation from Africa with the structure and operations of SEAMEO and to explore areas of cooperation between Africa and Southeast Asia in the promotion of VBWE.

The African delegation also participated in the SEAMEO-UNESCO Education Congress and Expo at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from May 27-29. The delegation was composed of the Minister of Education from Uganda, Deputy Minister of Education from Zambia and senior educators from Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.

Dr. Zerihun Kebede, Head of the Addis Ababa Education Bureau, said: “The exchange of ideas and experiences on VBWE among ourselves and our counterparts from Asia in the past few days has significantly improved my understanding of and commitment to the Programme. I will use this experience to strengthen the second phase of VBWE in Ethiopia.”

UN-HABITAT’s cooperation with SEAMEO started last year when the two organisations jointly held a Regional Consultation on VBWE in Manila, Philippines from 29 November to 2 December 2003 as part of UN-HABITAT’s Water for Asian Cities Programme. A key outcome of the Regional Consultations was the draft SEAMEO Declaration on Values-based Water Education. It was reaffirmed and endorsed by all the 10 Ministers of Education from ASEAN at the 38th SEAMEO Council Conference held in Brunei Darussalam in February 2004.

The SEAMEO-UNESCO Congress, whose theme was “Adapting to Changing Times and Needs”, attracted more than 800 participants from over 43 countries. More than 150 speakers from Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Africa presented papers.

Delegates presented the key elements of UN-HABITAT’s VBWE initiative: VBWE through water class rooms, incorporating VBWE in the school curriculum, VBWE in the informal sector and investments in water and sanitation for schools

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