Head of UNESCO meets with officials in Cape Coast, Ghana

Cape Coast – Cape Coast is a fishing community and the capital city of the Central region of Ghana. Located on the Central regional coastline of Ghana, Cape Coast is notable for being the home of two castles — Elmina and Cape Coast Castles – designated by UNESCO as World Heritage sites. In terms of education, Cape Coast is known to be the citadel of education in Ghana hosting several high schools, colleges and one of the best Universities in the country.

Ms Bokova with the Central Regional Minister

Ms Bokova with the Central Regional Minister

Given its cultural and educational significance, it is not surprising that the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova, chose to visit Cape Coast to complete her 3-day official visit to Ghana where she paid a courtesy call on the Central Regional Minister, the Head of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and the Paramount Chief of Cape Coast, and toured the Elmina Castle.

Ms Bokova with officials of the UCC and the Minister of Education

Ms Bokova with officials of the UCC and the Minister of Education

The Central Regional Minister, Mr. Samuel Sarpong expressed gratitude to Ms. Bokova for her choice to visit Cape Coast and commended UNESCO for its efforts in fostering access to education and protection of cultural heritage. He however, expressed concern over the low enrolment of natives in educational institutions, saying that “despite the fact that Cape Coast is well endowed with the finest educational institutions in Ghana, the natives do not take advantage of it”. Mr. Sarpong therefore used the opportunity to request for UNESCO’s support in addressing this issue.

Ms Bokova being briefed by a tour guide

Ms Bokova being briefed by a tour guide

Ms. Bokova on her part, acknowledged Cape Coast as being one of the significant cultural cities in Africa. She observed that “Cape Coast serves as the citadel of educational institutions in Ghana and world heritage monuments.  This makes Cape Coast unique”. She also highlighted UNESCO’s efforts at advocating for culture to become part of the post-2015 development agenda and expressed her willingness to assist in inscribing the cultural wealth of Cape Coast at the international level.

At the UCC, the Vice-Chancellor of UCC, Prof. Domwini Dabire Kupole and Deans of Faculties of the University welcomed her and acknowledged UNESCO’s assistance in the field of Science. Ms. Bokova, in a brief statement, said that UNESCO would focus more on challenges facing higher education in Africa and UCC would be among the pilot universities to be used to promote education.

The Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, who accompanied Ms. Bokova, expressed gratitude for the attention UNESCO is paying to Africa. “For UCC, Ms. Bokova’s visit is a great opportunity for them to highlight the strengths of the University in the fields of humanities, science education, and education planning and administration” she added.

Ms Bokova shakes hands with the Chief of Cape Coast

Ms Bokova shakes hands with the Chief of Cape Coast

Ms. Bokova and her entourage, including Ghana’s Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, Madam Genevieve Delali Tsegah, the Minister of Education and other government and UNESCO officials, toured the Elmina Castle.

The day ended with a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of Cape Coast, Osabarima Kwesi Atta.  A short traditional durbar was held in her honour in accordance with the customs of the traditional seat of Cape Coast. Osabarima Kwesi Atta appealed to Ms Bokova to make the advancement of education in Africa a priority on her agenda as the head of UNESCO.

Ms Bokova acknowledges a traditional dancer at the Chief's Palace

Ms Bokova acknowledges a traditional dancer at the Chief’s Palace