Pres slams destruction of heritage sites

PRESIDENT John Dramani Mahama on Monday, joined the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in condemning the destruction of cultural heritage sites in some countries.

He described the act as a sign of inhumanity against cultures in the world.

President Mahama made the condemnation when he addressed an inter-sectoral technical meeting between UNESCO and the Ghanaian delegation at its headquarters in Paris.

For some years now, countries such as Iraq, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Libya, which had ratified the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property, had engaged in the destruction of some of their heritage sites that included mosques, shrines, churches, and ancient and medieval sites.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, had already condemned those perpetrating the destruction and launched the United4Heritage campaign to protect sites threatened by extremists.

President Mahama said countries were identified by their people, culture and heritage sites, and it was therefore, unfortunate for some of the extremists to engage in deliberate destruction of such sites that could ensure unity and foreign exchange through tourism.

On education, President Mahama said his administration was making numerous strives to eliminate illiteracy and create better opportunities for the coming generations.

In that respect, he said the 123 new community day senior high schools were under construction throughout the country, while enrolment at the basic levels had also risen because of the progressive free education policy being rolled out.

He said more than 10,000 of school children had been sent back to school and commended the UNESCO for supporting the government of Ghana in the training of teachers and provision of teaching and learning materials.

President Mahama called for further collaboration between the government of Ghana and UNESCO in the area of Information, Communication and Technology in order to make it examinable at the basic and senior high school levels.

The President commended the UNESCO for providing $1.4 million for the management of Lake Bosomtwe in Ghana-the largest natural lake in West Africa and gave the assurance that the management of the place would inure to the benefit of all Ghanaians and the subregion.

Madam Irina Bokova commended Ghana over the years for protecting her cultural heritage sites especially the forts and castles that were bequeathed by her colonial masters after slave trade and independence.

She said the ratification of six UNESCO conventions by Ghana over the years signaled the country’s readiness to protect their sites and adhere to the dictates of the conventions.

Madam Bokova also commended the politicians in Ghana for their Kumasi declaration to maintain peace and unity after the 2012 general election, adding that such a declaration was inspirational to the entire continent.

The programme was also attended by members of other organisations under the United Nations.

From: George-Ramsey Benamba, GNA Special Correspondent in Paris

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