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IBE-UNESCO hosts the first IBE-Switzerland joint meeting since 2017

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GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - On 4 September 2020, IBE-UNESCO and the National Commission of Switzerland for UNSECO co-hosted the first IBE – Swiss organizations joint meeting in the Cecilia Braslavsky Room, to stimulate exchanges of ideas on a prospective future collaboration in the education sphere.

Co-chaired by Mr. Yao Ydo, the IBE acting Director, and Mr. Nicholas Mathieu, the Secretary-General (SG) of the Swiss National Commission (NatCom) for UNESCO, the joint meeting brought together policy makers and representatives from over 10 educational authorities, multilateral organizations and academic institutions based in Switzerland. The Ambassador and Permant Delegate of Switzerland to UNESCO Mr. Martin Michelet virtually attended the meeting from Paris and delivered the opening address.

Looking back to the past, for decades, IBE’s development has been closely associated with the crucial support from Member States and the host country, Switzerland. In 1925, the IBE was created as a private Swiss educational association. In 1929, the IBE became the first intergovernmental organization in the field of education under the leadership of Jean Piaget, the eminent Swiss psychologist. In Fall 2020, the IBE-Switzerland joint meeting marked the reunion between IBE and its local partners at the critical moment when the Covid-19 pandemic wreak havoc in countries across the globe. 

The meeting began with welcoming remarks from H.E. Mr. Martin Michelet, the Swiss Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. Mr. Michelet emphasized the importance of this meeting as a symbol of the relaunched cooperation between Switzerland and IBE for the first time since the 39th UNESCO General Conference in 2017. He gave Mr. Ydo high praise for his effort and swift action to rebuild the partnerships during the past weeks. In particular, he underlined Mr. Ydo's undertaking to make IBE “weave in new threads in the UNESCO galaxy”. Mr. Nicholas Mathieu, the SG of the Swiss NatCom for UNESCO, reiterated the support from the Swiss Confederation, at the level of the State Secretariat, to invest in the IBE and help IBE play a dynamic role in the International Geneva regarding SDG4, based on the renewed mandate of the IBE.

The IBE acting Director Mr. Yao Ydo expressed his appreciation for attendance of the IBE Swiss partners, as well as his delight of hosting this meeting. As the IBE acting director, Mr. Ydo shared his vision that is "to prepare for the ground for the coming director". He presented his objectives, the challenges ahead, and the short-term solutions for the IBE. “It is important for me to have pleasant working relationship with the Swiss NatCom, whose support is decisive to the IBE.” Mr. Ydo stressed.

Mr. Ydo’s speech was followed by two productive group discussions on the future of IBE, discussing about how to strengthen and expand collaborations and partnerships to bring together intellectual, technical and financial resources to transform the IBE into an international centre of excellence in curriculum, which is supported by UNESCO and the Member States. Dr. Ydo exchanged ideas with prominent policy makers, scholars and practionioners in Switzerland, including: Marie Brüning, Education Advisor at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC); Olivier Coutau, Delegate for International Geneva, Republic and Canton of Geneva; Samir Yeddes, First Secretary of Permanent Mission of Swizerland to the United Nations; Bruno Wicht, Head of International Affairs of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Directors of Public Education (CDIP); Clara Schwander, Section UNESCO of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) of Switzerland;  Moira Faul, Executive Director of NORRAG; Abdeldjalil Akkari, Professor at the University of Geneva; Rita Hofstetter, Professor at the University of Geneva. Mr. Vincent Defourney, the Director of UNESCO Geneva Liaison Office, also joined the discussion.

The first IBE- Switzerland joint meeting reaffirms IBE’s effort in strengthening partnerships including various organizational structures, relationships, and arrangements within and external to UNESCO to enhance collaboration to achieve SDG4, while further consolidating its unique role as the global centre of excellence in curriculum bringing cutting-edge knowledge to bear on policy and practice.