Friday, July 08, 2005

UNESCO's changing partnership with the private sector

UNESCO New Courier article:

"Once limited to sponsoring, partnerships between the private sector and UNESCO are now becoming more numerous and ambitious. Information and communications technology (ICT) are providing a special opportunity to experiment with a new form of cooperation with business........

"The new cooperation is also key to meeting the Education For All goals. As Mr Abhimanyu Singh, Director of UNESCO’s Division of International Coordination and Monitoring of EFA points out: 'If we are to have a better chance of achieving the EFA goals, then it cannot be done without broadening the partnership to the private sector, globally and in-country.'

"Elizabeth Longworth, Director of UNESCO’s Information Society Division, agrees. 'The digital divide is one of the greatest obstacles to the fulfilment of UNESCO’s key mandate to help create, share, disseminate and preserve knowledge,' she said.

"UNESCO’s growing list of partnerships with ICT companies include Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Alcatel and Hitachi, and range from teacher syllabus programmes to community access centres, science networks and recording cultural heritage. .......

"In recent months, much attention has been focused on two particularly high profile partnerships between UNESCO and the private sector: a Memorandum of Understanding with Intel and a Cooperation Agreement with Microsoft. These represent a new level of strategic engagement with the private sector, taking partnerships beyond the more traditional idea of funding and sponsorship to defining how to meet the needs of developing countries. While these new partnerships have attracted much media attention, not all reactions have been positive. In December 2004, the French newspaper Le Monde cited fears that such agreements were diluting UNESCO’s strong support for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)."

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