UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will undertake her first official visit to Sri Lanka from 14 to 17 August 2016, where she will affirm the Organization’s support to the peace and reconciliation process and the advancement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Through a series of public events, visits to world heritage sites and top-level bilateral meetings, she will witness the transformation underway in the country and discuss measures to strengthen cooperation to build peace and a sustainable future for all, including through inclusive quality education, science, technology and innovation, cultural heritage, the promotion of cultural diversity, and environmental conservation.
At the invitation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ms Bokova will give a public lecture on 16 August on “Soft Power for Peace and Development” at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute for International Relations and Strategic Studies. She will visit the South Asian Centre for Teacher Development, an institute under the auspices of UNESCO established in 2011, where she will address a forum on “Quality Education through Effective Teacher Development” with the Minister of Education the Akila Viraj Kariyawasam on 17 August. In the realm of science, she will participate in a forum on “Science & Technology Education” with the Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Science, Technology and Research, where she will meet a cross-section of representatives from the scientific community (16 August).
She will discover the country’s cultural wealth, through visits to several of its 8 World Heritage Sites, including the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Sigirya Rock Fortress, and the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, where she will witness the Esala Perahera, one of the country’s most celebrated Buddhist festivals that honours the Sacred Tooth Relic kept in the temple. While in this region, she will also visit the University of Peradeniya, where she will exchange with the Vice-Chancellor and members of faculty.
She is expected to meet with President Maithripala Sirisena, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera; the Minister of Higher Education and Highways, Lakshman Kiriella; the Minister of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs, Senevirathna Bandara Navinna, as well as Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe, Second Lady of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka joined UNESCO in 1949 and is currently a Member of the Executive Board for the term 2015-2019. (Colombo Gazette)