Khartoum — Head of UNESCO-- United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization--Khartoum Office and UNESCO representative to Sudan Pavel Kroupkine (PhD) overviews in the following interview the outcome of 60 years of cooperation between UNESCO and Sudan and his observations about the Sudan and its people:
SUDANOW: Would you please brief us on achievements of your organization in Sudan?
PK: We can combine quite impressive list of achievements during the 60 years of cooperation between UNESCO and Sudan:
Establishing the Sudanese National Museum of Archaeology and other achievements in the frameworks of famous Nubian Campaign of 1960-70s;
Great collaboration in the frameworks of the UNESCO's International Hydrology Programme ensuring the Sudanese people to have reliable fresh water supplies; this UNESCO - Sudanese government - Sudanese Academia collaboration could be considered as a model one - thanks to the permanent support of the Sudanese Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation, and Electricity, and the Sudanese National Commission;
Joint achievements in developing and strengthening the Sudanese education system - thanks to the Sudanese Ministries of Education, and Higher Education and Scientific Research;
Achievements of the National Commission, National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums, and Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife in collaboration with the UNESCO's World Heritage Center - two historical sites - Meroe Island and Jebel Barkal - and one natural site - Sangoneb Atoll and Dounganab Bay - were recognized currently in Sudan as being of universal value; and there could be more such sites in Sudan;
Achievements of the National Commission and Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife in collaboration with the UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme - two Biosphere Reserves - Dinder and Radom - were recognized currently in Sudan, and there could be more places like this;
Achievements of the National Commission in promoting in Sudan the institutions sharing UNESCO's mission and mandate: eight UNESCO Chairs were established for different areas of the society development with different Sudanese universities, and one Regional Center for Water Harvesting (Category 2 UNESCO Center) - under auspice of the Ministry of Water Resources, Irrigation, and Electricity;
Achievements of the National Commission in promoting among Sudanese academics and practitioners the UNESCO's networks of expertise, strengthening their integration to the international intellectual communities;
Q: What about "Education for all" movement specifically?
A: The Education for All (EFA) movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. At the World Education Forum, which took place in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000, 164 governments pledged to achieve EFA and identified six goals to be met by 2015. The Sudanese education sector was fully engaged in the self-development targeting to the EFA goals. Some of them, like, for example, the "gender equality in education", were achieved for primary schools, where in 2014 the country had a parity of genders. In the same time, Sudanese girls prevailed on boys in secondary (by 7%) and higher education (by 10%) of Sudan - changing the efforts for achieving the gender parity from "empowering girls" to "empowering boys". The Ministry of Education works hard constructing new schools, preparing teachers for them, however it is obvious, that these efforts have to be intensified. This is the point, where I see an opportunity for a national mobilization: Sudan spends for education just 2.2% of the GDP - comparing with 3.8% of Egypt, or more than 6% of Morocco and Tunisia. The National Literacy Campaign, launched by the President of the Republic in 2015, is a good sign, showing that the Sudanese Government understands the challenges, which influence the education system of the country.
Concerning the UNESCO's activities in the sector; UNESCO supports the Government in strengthening the Sudanese education system together with UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education, World Bank, and other partners.
Q: UNESCO targets in its programs for developing countries to empowering women. What about this in Sudan?
A: Gender equality and Africa - these are the global priorities for UNESCO. For every project, every activity, we have to answer the question about its contribution to the gender equality. In many areas, to achieve this goal means for us to contribute to empowering women, however, sometimes, we have to push forward men. A good example here is the domestic work and childcare. Another, the specific Sudanese one, is to attract boys to secondary schools and universities.
Working on women development in Sudan, the Khartoum office of UNESCO concentrates on issues of gender-based violence, on women in media, and on education for women.
Q: Sudan has great wealth of archaeological sites that need funding to protect and save ... .. What are your office's efforts to assist the country in safeguarding the historical heritage?
A: The cooperation between the Sudanese National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums has a long history. We could remember, that the Sudanese National Museum of Archaeology was established in 1971 resulting the famous UNESCO's Nubian Campaign, which was organized for maximal saving historical artifacts from zone of influence of the Aswan Dam. The UNESCO's World Heritage Center (WHC) recognizes two Sudanese archaeological sites as being of universal value: Meroe Island and Jebel Barkal. Last year, UNESCO facilitated the revision by national partners of the Sudanese heritage list - increasing its content from 6 to 18 items together with natural heritage places.
Q: And what about natural heritage in Sudan?
A: This summer the National Commission, National Corporation, and Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife achieved to get inscribed with the WHC the first Sudanese natural heritage site - Sanganeb Atoll and Dounganab Bay on Red Sea. This achievement was a result of several years' work of a team of Sudanese experts in the nature conservation.
Being in permanent connection with the Man and Biosphere Programme of UNESCO, the National Commission and Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife also succeeded to promote the Dinder and Radom National Parks as the Biosphere Reserves. One more park - the Jebel Al Dair National Park in North Kordofan is now under the consideration for recognizing it as one more Biosphere Reserve in Sudan.
Q: How could UNESCO help Sudanese benefit from their cultural richness?
A: To protect the diversity of Humanity the member-states of UNESCO supported the development of two conventions: Convention 2003 for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and Convention 2005 on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. Sudan ratified both of them. Now UNESCO helps the Ministry of Culture to acquire necessary competencies to manage the cultural situation in the country in accordance with these conventions to the benefit of all Sudanese.
Concerning the Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Sudanese Ministry of Culture and National Commission for Education, Science and Culture received a grant from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund - to find and list appropriate practices and routines of people of Blue Nile and Kordofan regions.
Q: How do you find the Sudanese culture?
A: During those two years that I am here, I could see that Sudanese enjoy singing. They like to sit and drink coffee or tea under the trees, speaking to each other. All restaurants in Khartoum in the evening are full of people.
Q: What is the image of Sudan in your mind before your arrival to the country?
A: Preparing to the mission, I collected the impressions of my colleagues and partners, who had the Sudanese experience. Resulting this, I got quite adequate picture of the country. The biggest found gap was the climate: just in Khartoum I realized, how big a value is an ability to walk along the street, or to refresh yourself in the forest ... (smiling)
Q: And after living in Sudan for two years, how did you find Sudanese people?
A: People in Khartoum are very self-confident and friendly. I see a high level of honesty in business relations among people.
Q: Do you have Sudanese friends?
A: Yes, my relationships with all my local partners are very friendly, they like to help me to taste and better understand the Sudanese specificities.
Q: Did you taste the Sudanese food?
A: Yes, I enjoy the Sudanese cuisine. Meat here is excellent!
SUDANOW: Thank you, Your Excellency.