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Academics mobilized for the safeguarding of African World Heritage

Thursday, 3 May 2018
access_time 2 min read
Trainees at the site of Lalibela, Ethiopia. © UNESCO | Nada Al Hassan

In keeping with UNESCO’s mandate to promote culture and education in Africa, the World Heritage Centre, in close collaboration with the African World Heritage Fund and the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare, organized a regional workshop entitled “World Heritage and Education Institutions in Africa” at the Great Zimbabwe, Masvingo (Zimbabwe) from 26 to 28 April 2018.  This event marks an important milestone in the involvement of African educational institutions in the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.

As a direct response to the Ngorongoro Declaration (2016), this international workshop brought together African educational institutions and World Heritage experts to exchange on the issues related to the involvement of universities in the implementation of the 1972 World Heritage Convention.

This workshop was the first of a series of UNESCO activities conceived to address the urgent need to build African capacities in a sustainable way by drawing on the vast pool of expertise available at African educational institutions.

The three-day workshop was attended by over 65 people from key African educational institutions, site managers and African World Heritage experts, representing 13 African countries and Japan.

The workshop was structured around the following themes:

  • The nomination and state of conservation of World Heritage sites;
  • The alignment of African university curricula with the interdisciplinary needs of World Heritage sites;
  • The contribution of universities to the sustainable management of heritage resources, including traditional knowledge systems, innovations in the heritage sector, as well as synergies between educational institutions both within and beyond the Africa region.

 The 28 papers presented, followed by intensive and inspiring discussions, highlighted a number of key points, including:

  • Educating young people in heritage and related crosscutting domains contributes not only to transmitting knowledge and skills, and adapting to social and cultural change brought about by technological innovations, but also to promoting sustainable development, cultural diversity and peace;
  • To build capacities in a sustainable manner, the involvement of African universities should be increased, to support the tremendous potential of heritage to foster sustainable development throughout the African continent;
  • As a silo approach persists between, and within, heritage institutions and institutions of higher learning in Africa, improved communication and collaboration could enhance the production of convincing and informative narratives on African heritage, in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.
  • The present workshop is a strategic initiative aimed at increasing co-operation between national heritage experts, heritage institutions and institutions of higher learning in implementing the World Heritage Convention on the African continent.

This workshop was focused on English-speaking educational institutions, and will be followed by a French/Portuguese-speaking workshop before the end of 2018.

The World Heritage Centre thanks the generous financial support of
the UNESCO/Netherlands Funds-in-Trust (NFiT) and the Government of Zimbabwe
that made this workshop possible.