Inheriting World Heritage and Empowering the Future: Ministry of Education of the PRC and UNESCO co-hosted the side event themed “World Heritage Education towards a Sustainable Future”

2021-07-19 16:44:29

The extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee recently opened in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, southeastern China. On July 17, a side event themed “World Heritage Education towards a Sustainable Future”, co-hosted by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and the UNESCO, was held in a hybrid online and offline format. Chen Baosheng, Party Secretary and Minister of Ministry of Education of the PRC, attended the event and delivered a keynote speech. Tian Xuejun, Vice ,Minister of Education, chairperson of both the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, as well as Agapito Mba Mokuy, chairperson of the UNESCO Executive Board, and the board’s Deputy Director General Qu Xing, addressed the opening ceremony. 

In his speech, Chen Baosheng noted that China is an advocate and actor in the field of World Heritage education. The country has included World Heritage education into its overall national plan for educational development and teaching systems of various schools at different levels, and has fostered concepts and practices of World Heritage education with Chinese characteristics: first, China has made World Heritage education an important carrier to promote comprehensive development of students, and worked to include knowledge about World Heritage and awareness of World Heritage protection into curriculum and textbooks; second, China has taken World Heritage education as an important way to promote social practices for students, and paid attention to combining school teaching and extracurricular practices in World Heritage education; third, China has been active in training high-caliber professionals who love World Heritage and devote themselves to the protection of it; fourth, China has made World Heritage education an important realm for international educational exchanges and cooperation.

Chen added that to promote World Heritage education towards a sustainable future, we need to attach greater importance to new challenges faced by the cause of World Heritage protection, vigorously promote values shared by humanity such as peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy and freedom, and cultivate more most sought-after professionals in World Heritage protection. We also need to pay closer attention to the new trends in educational development, keep in line with the realities of World Heritage protection and the needs of the people in the process of establishing a lifetime learning system, work hard to provide rich and diversified services in World Heritage education, and urge the whole society to make concerted efforts to protect World Heritage. In addition, we need to provide targeted guidance and education for juveniles according to their characteristics so as to train the future leaders, protectors and inheritors in World Heritage protection.

Chen said that Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the opening of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, and Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan addressed the opening ceremony and read Xi’s letter. On behalf of the Chinese government, Sun announced that China will collaborate with UNESCO to establish an online World Heritage education platform. Ministry of Education of the PRC will work with other government departments to fulfill China’s commitments and take early actions to contribute to the noble cause of World Heritage protection. 

Tian Xuejun pointed that the ultimate goal of World Heritage education is to help people understand and recognize the strong spiritual power of World Heritage. We must help people, especially the youth, develop the awareness of conserving nature and protecting cultural relics through consistent education programmes, thus sowing the seed of hope for the protection of World Heritage. World Heritage education aims to cultivate not only present participants but also future leaders. The dissemination of new ideas and technologies will inject impetus to World Heritage protection. 

In his speech, Mokuy said that education is vital to the protection of World Heritage. All countries need to discard prejudices and take effective measures together to promote World Heritage education and training for a sustainable future. Qu Xing noted that World Heritage serves as an important bridge for global cultural exchanges and plays a significant role in promoting peace. He hoped that by empowering youth by education, they can make commitments for World Heritage protection and take real actions. 

Lin Baojin, Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Fujian Provincial Committee and Secretary of the CPC Fuzhou Municipal Committee, ministerial representatives from the Ministries of Education of countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Namibia, Thailand, and Tanzania, as well as ambassadors to the UNESCO of various countries and officials from the UNESCO World Heritage Center, introduced their outstanding practices and experience at the event. Experts and scholars from China and beyond also shared some typical cases related to World Heritage education.

As an integral part of the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee, the side event serves as a significant platform for policy dialogue and experience sharing in the field of World Heritage education. Nearly 200 representatives, including officials of the UNESCO, ministers from various countries, leaders of Fujian Province, and experts and scholars from China and abroad, attended the event.