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Published: Tuesday October 6, 2009 MYT 7:14:00 PM

Unesco-Malaysia trust fund to boost education

PARIS: Malaysia will set up a Unesco-Malaysia Cooperative Trust Fund with a launching grant of US$5mil (RM17.15mil) to enhance south-south cooperation.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the amount, which would be allocated next year, would be followed by an annual contribution of US$1mil (RM3.43mil) from Malaysia.

Najib said the fund would be used for capacity building in education and science for the benefit of the Least Developed Countries, Small Island States and in support of the Priority Africa agenda.

“We’re convinced that quality education can only be provided for by quality teachers,” he said when addressing the 35th Unesco general conference’s opening plenary session Tuesday.

This is the first time in Malaysia’s 51-year history with Unesco that its Prime Minister has been invited to give a keynote speech at the world body’s first session.

The fund’s programmes will be worked out in consultation with the Unesco regional offices in Bangkok and Jakarta, the Priority Africa Department and the Malaysian National Commission for Unesco in the Education Ministry.

Under this initiative, Malaysia will provide teachers’ training facility for pre-service, in-service, school principalship and management, with about 300 places provided annually.

Najib said the fund was a gesture of Malaysia’s sincere commitment and firm belief in the ideals of Unesco’s mandate to bring about peace and development through education, science, culture and communication.

He said that walking through the body’s hallowed halls had also rekindled past memories of camaraderie and friendship forged during his service on Unesco’s executive board a decade ago.

“It was a poignant and nostalgic moment,” he said, referring to his late father, Tun Abdul Razak, Malaysia’s pre-independence Education Minister and second Prime Minister, who had played an instrumental role in the country’s decision to join Unesco.

Najib also expressed confidence in the election of Bulgaria’s Elrina Bokova as Unesco’s first female director-general, saying this was a historical milestone.

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