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Promoting human rights education in West Africa

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In the framework of the activities related to its Learning to Live Together (LTLT) programme, UNESCO Dakar partnered with the Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD) in Senegal and Teachers College, Columbia University in the USA to promote human rights education (HRE) and Learning to Live Together (LTLT) in West Africa through a student-led Curriculum Development project.

In the midst of rising disparities, instability, environmental degradation, and all forms of inequality and injustice, education has been called up to put more emphasis on the importance of Learning to Live Together (LTLT), beyond teaching just cognitive knowledge and skills. Learning should encompass values such as peace, non-discrimination, equality, justice, non-violence, tolerance and respect for human dignity. Quality education based on a human rights approach means that rights are embedded throughout the whole education system and in all learning environments.

UNESCO’s work on LTLT is being driven and strengthened by the Education 2030 Framework for Action, notably in the pursuit of Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There is growing interest for collaboration in the area of HRE and LTLT within and across regions to address the common challenges that the world is facing. In this context, UNESCO Dakar has supported the partnership between Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (UCAD) in Senegal and Teachers College, Columbia University in the USA to promote context-relevant peace and human rights education. The curriculum was prepared by Masters and Doctoral students of the Human Rights in Africa class at Teachers College (TC) with the inputs and feedback provided by academic and civil society networks of UCAD and UNESCO Dakar.

The curricula aim to equip learners with knowledge about human rights and critical thinking, to nurture a sense of solidarity and respect for differences and diversity, and to enable them to act responsibly for a more peaceful and sustainable world:

  1. An activism-oriented curriculum on how to utilize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the daily life with reference to African-specific tools, such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;
  2. A conflict prevention and management curriculum using sports as a tool to learn about teamwork and cooperation;
  3. Preventing violent extremism (PVE) curriculum to equip students with the skills to identify extremist behaviours and protect themselves from joining such groups;
  4. A gender, peace and development curriculum to empower young women to stand up to gender-based oppression; and
  5. A sexual minority and human rights curriculum to help learners understand the importance of tolerance and respect. The curricula also include useful resources, such as database on human rights organizations in the region, images, stories and videos, quizzes and self-assessment tools, which help learners understand and apply the principles of human rights in different contexts.

The curricula also include useful resources, such as database on human rights organizations in the region, images, stories and videos, quizzes and assessment tools, which help learners understand and apply the principles of human rights in different contexts.

The overall goal of this project is to contribute to mainstreaming peace and human rights in education practices in West African countries. Based on the identification of gaps and issues with regard to integration of peace and human rights education in their education policies, programmes and practices in West Africa, the project provides user-friendly materials for schools and out-of-school children and youths and other targeted groups.

The curricula are available at the TC Center for African Education Website as open educational resources. The ideas and opinions expressed in the curricula are those of the authors; they are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.

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Development

World Bank Plans to Invest over $5 Billion in Drylands in Africa

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The World Bank plans to invest over $5 billion over the next five years to help restore degraded landscapes, improve agriculture productivity, and promote livelihoods across 11 African countries on a swathe of land stretching from Senegal to Djibouti.

World Bank Group President David Malpass announced the investment at the One Planet Summit, a high-level meeting co-hosted with France and the United Nations that is focused on addressing climate change and biodiversity loss.

“This investment, which comes at a crucial time, will help improve livelihoods as countries recover from COVID-19 while also dealing with the impact of both biodiversity loss and climate change on their people and economies,” said Malpass.

The more than $5 billion in financing will support agriculture, biodiversity, community development, food security, landscape restoration, job creation, resilient infrastructure, rural mobility, and access to renewable energy across 11 countries of the Sahel, Lake Chad and Horn of Africa. Many of these efforts are in line with the Great Green Wall initiative. This builds on World Bank landscape investments in these countries over the past eight years that reached more than 19 million people and placed 1.6 million hectares under sustainable land management.

“Restoring natural ecosystems in the drylands of Africa benefits both people and the planet,” said Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.  

Working with many partners, PROGREEN, a World Bank global fund dedicated to boosting countries’ efforts to address landscape degradation, will also invest $14.5 million in five Sahelian countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania.

The World Bank Group is the biggest multilateral funder of climate investments in developing countries. In December 2020, the World Bank Group announced an ambitious new target for 35% of its financing to have climate co-benefits, on average, over the next five years.

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Health & Wellness

Health experts arrive in Wuhan to investigate COVID-19 origins

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Members of an international team studying the origins of the virus that causes COVID-19 arrived in Wuhan, China, on Thursday, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced during an expert meeting on the disease. 

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, was addressing the latest session of the Emergency Committee on COVID-19 established under the International Health Regulations (IHR), a treaty that guides global response to public health risks. 

The new coronavirus that sparked the pandemic first emerged in Wuhan in December 2019.  Tedros reported that most of the 15 members of the delayed mission are now in the city, although two people are still in Singapore awaiting COVID-19 test results. 

“All members of the team had multiple negative PCR and antibody tests in their homes countries prior to traveling”, he said. 

“The team members who have arrived in Wuhan will be in quarantine for the next two weeks, and will begin working remotely with counterparts in China. They will then continue their work on the ground for a further two weeks.” 

Focus now on vaccine equity, travel prospects 

Thursday marked the sixth meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee on COVID-19.   

Members first convened a year ago, when there were less than 560 cases of the new disease. Today, more than 90 million cases have been reported globally, and the death toll has almost reached two million. 

Tedros said although the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines represents “hope of light at the end of the tunnel”, focus is now on ensuring all countries can access them on an equitable basis. 

He also highlighted two urgent issues for the committee’s attention: the recent emergence of multiple new variants of the virus, and the potential use of vaccination and testing certificates for international travel. 

“One theme ties both issues together: solidarity”, said Tedros.  “We cannot afford to prioritize or punish certain groups or countries. We are all in this together, and we must all come out of it together.” 

Challenges in Africa 

Meanwhile, the UN agency has warned of the need to avert a “runaway surge” of infections in Africa, as cases there top three million and new variants of the virus emerge on the continent. 

COVID-19 cases have risen steadily since mid-September, with a steeper rise from late November, and could increase in the wake of the Christmas and New Year holidays due to travel and festive gatherings. 

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said although virus mutations are not surprising, preliminary analysis reveals that a new variant circulating widely in South Africa, known as 501Y.V2, is more transmissible.  

“Even if the new variant is not more virulent, a virus that can spread more easily will put further strain on hospitals and health workers who are in many cases already overstretched”, she said.  

“This is a stark reminder that the virus is relentless, that it still presents a manifest threat, and that our war is far from won.” 

WHO is supporting African countries with reinforcing genome sequencing efforts, key to finding and understanding new COVID-19 variants. 

So far, 501Y.V2 has been identified in Botswana, the Gambia and Zambia, while Nigeria is further investigating another variant found in samples collected in August and November.   The virus variant circulating in the United Kingdom has not been reported on the continent.

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Tech News

World Bank Group and CES Announce Global Tech Challenge Winners

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image: ces.tech

World Bank Group and CES announced the winners of the Global Tech Challenge at CES®2021.

The result of a partnership between the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the World Bank Group, the Global Tech Challenge was launched at CES 2020 to reward scalable and innovative technological solutions in three main areas: digital health in East Africa, resilience in India and gender equality around the world. Technology solutions that helped communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic were also prioritized.

Selected among over 1,000 applications, three winners were selected for gender equality, 10 for resilience and 17 for digital health. More details about the selected innovations can be accessed here for health, resilience and gender equality.

Global Tech Challenge winners will have the opportunity to access financial and/or technical assistance to pilot and scale their solutions on the ground with private sector companies, governments and within development projects financed by the World Bank Group, one of the largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries.  

“From closing the digital divide to building resilience in the face of natural disasters or pandemics, innovation can solve some of the most pressing development challenges. The World Bank Group is pleased to support impactful programs focused on bringing equal access to connectivity to women in developing countries and to recognize cutting-edge solutions such as AI-enabled robots to rebuild homes in post-disaster areas. Now is the time to scale up solutions that have proven effective, so that no one is left behind in the new digital era,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure.

“Disruptive technologies are a fundamental driver of economic growth and job creation—and key to solving development challenges around the world. At IFC, we are proud to support the private sector in bringing these technologies to emerging markets, with innovations that range from portable ultrasound devices that can detect COVID-19 to medical tools that provide real-time cardiac diagnoses even in remote areas,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer at IFC.

We are thrilled to be continuing our work with the World Bank so the world’s best and brightest innovators at CES can collaborate with the World Bank Group to enter new markets, provide solutions and aid in development,” said Karen Chupka, EVP, CES, Consumer Technology Association (CTA).

Owned and produced by CTA, CES 2021 will be an all-digital experience connecting exhibitors, customers, thought leaders and media from around the world. CES 2021 will allow participants to hear from technology innovators, see cutting-edge technologies and the latest product launches, and engage with global brands and startups from around the world. For over 50 years, CES has been the global stage for innovation, and CES 2021 will provide an engaging platform for companies large and small to launch products, build brands and form partnerships.

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