Global mission lacks a leader

1st December 2000 at 00:00
THE United Nations' educational directorate is still without a leader, more than seven months after it organised a conference which set global targets, writes Jane Marshall.

The high-profile job has been vacant since Australian academic Colin Power retired in April. He departed after the Education For All conference in Dakar, Senegal, which was organised by UNESCO, the UN's educational, scientific and cultural wing.

UNESCO's director-general, Koichiro Matsuura, admitted there had been criticism of the time taken to fill this and other senior posts.

Marking the first anniversary of his election as head of the organisation last week, Mr Matsuura said he was insisting on lengthy recruitment procedures that are "open and transparent" ad that he would announce an appointment "soon".

Mr Matsuura gave details of root-and-branch reforms he is introducing. He was appointed following an investigation that revealed that corruption, cronyism and nepotism were rife in the organisation.

A top priority now is helping countries achieve the Education for All goals.

However, UNESCO has so far failed to convince campaigners that it is carrying out the Dakar pledge to set up a global initiative to mobilise funds for national education plans designed to achieve universal primary education by 2015 and equal access for boys and girls by 2005.

"We've been pressing for the global initiative but there's no response," said Kevin Watkins, senior policy adviser at Oxfam.

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