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Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova to visit Sri Lanka

The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, will arrive in Sri Lanka on 13 August afternoon, on an official visit, at the invitation of the Government of Sri Lanka. Her official programme will be from 14 – 17 August 2016.

During the visit, Director-General Bokova is expected to call on President Maithripala Sirisena on 17 August. She will also meet Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Higher Education and Highways Lakshman Kiriella, Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, and Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha.

On 14 and 15 August, she will visit the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya, and the sacred city of Kandy that have been inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. She will also use the opportunity of her visit to Kandy, to watch the Esala Perahera.

Director-General Bokova will address the Science Forum held under the theme ‘Science and Technology Education’, convened by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research on 16 August in Colombo, and attend the Education Forum held under the theme ‘Quality Education through Effective Teacher Development’ on 17 August, which will be convened by the Ministry of Education at the South Asian Centre for Teacher Development, in Meepe, an institute that was established in 2011 with the assistance of UNESCO.

At the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his capacity as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), the Director-General will deliver a lecture on 16 August afternoon on ‘Soft Power for Peace and Development – UNESCO and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.

Irina Bokova was elected as Director-General of UNESCO in November 2009 and re-elected in 2013. She is the first woman to head the UNESCO. This is her first official visit to Sri Lanka in her capacity as the Director-General of UNESCO.

Sri Lanka joined UNESCO in 1949 prior to becoming a member of the United Nations (in 1955). Sri Lanka was elected to the Executive Board of UNESCO for the term 2015-2019, in November 2015. The decision to pursue membership in the UNESCO Executive Board was a manifestation of the Government’s policy of renewing engagement with the international community and reaffirmation of the principles of the Government including strengthening democracy and good governance, ensuring justice, liberty, equality, freedom and dignity for all, aimed at achieving a durable peace and the harmonious celebration and preservation of Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious and multi-lingual character which are in line with the purposes and principles of UNESCO.

The visit of the Director-General is expected to further strengthen ties between Sri Lanka and UNESCO and an opportunity to discuss measures to strengthen cooperation aimed at reconciliation, development and peace through education, scientific advancement and cultural understanding – values promoted by UNESCO.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

12 August 2016