Reinforcing the transmission of Mayangna culture, knowledge and language
UNESCO media release, 25 January 2012

PARIS, FRANCE: Like many other indigenous peoples, the Mayangna people of the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua, are concerned about the erosion of their culture, language and knowledge. During the past twenty years, the Nicaraguan education system has taken important strides towards ensuring that formal education accommodates the unique needs of indigenous children through its new curriculum which allows for locally appropriate adjustments and additions to be made. However, much work remains before Mayangna language, knowledge and culture is fully integrated into this system; appropriate pedagogical content and tools are needed. To this end, the Ministry of Education and the UNESCO-LINKS programme worked alongside Mayangna education professionals to develop materials. They developed a pilot programme, complete with a teacher’s guide and a textbook. The material was introduced with a workshop in Nicaragua held from 24-28 January 2012 that marked the launch of the pilot phase. The test phase will be followed by a revision, training, production and distribution phase, and then a final implementation and monitoring phase. A team of technical advisors from the Ministry of Education, UNESCO and UNICEF support and monitor the project, while the main work is carried out by a team of Mayangna school supervisors. The final output will be the roll out of a complete set of trialled, pedagogical materials; training of teachers in the use of the materials; and a monitoring of the impact of the project as well as on-going support for teachers. Read the release …  

US$1.02 million project launched in Asia and the Pacific
UNESCO ICH release, 30 January 2012

PARIS, FRANCE: UNESCO, with the financial support of Japan, will be working hand in hand with governments, civil society and communities to ensure that intangible cultural heritage safeguarding efforts in eight countries of the region (Bhutan, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste) are supported and sustained. This eight-country project is part of the global UNESCO Programme to build capacity for the implementation of the Convention around the world. With time running as the enormous reservoir of cultural practices, knowledge systems and rituals across the region is increasingly threatened, safeguarding of living heritage becomes ever more critical to the sustainable development of these countries concerned. Read the release …

Help Kiribati Stone Warriors Fight
UNESCO Office in Apia release, 21 January 2012

APIA, SAMOA: The Kiribati Government recently organised a workshop on the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Kiribati, in order to discuss a safeguarding strategy, in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Apia and with financial assistance of the Government of Japan. One of the most notable outcomes of the workshop was the support expressed by the Elders to Kiribati’s ratification of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Convention. In Kiribati, the Elders have been responsible for overseeing matters relating to the community life in the country. Historically, they have been regarded as source of wisdom by community members and their authorities still prevails even nowadays. The effectiveness of any external interventions therefore depends on the endorsement of the Elders of the country. A draft of five-year strategy and action plan for Intangible Cultural Heritage safeguarding in Kiribati was also prepared during the workshop by the participants and endorsed by the Elders.

Like many other Pacific islands, in Kiribati heritage is an all-embracing concept. Tangible and intangible cultural heritage co-exist together in living environment. For example, in Kiribati there remains a unique cultural heritage, called Nnabakana. Its history has been known to this date through oral histories and traditions transmitted from generation to generation among local communities. Nnabakana, located at Tabiteuea, one of the southern islands of Kiribati, contains huge stone monuments with associated stories of battles that were fought among islands around the 16th century. These monuments are human-made stone pillars, six of which remain unspoiled, resembling giant human warriors built to scare away enemies. Some of them are more than three metres high. The Kiribati’s Culture Division recently undertook research on the site. Through the research, the Culture Division obtained GPS data, images and video footages relating to Nnabakana site as well as interviews with locals living nearby. The outcome of the research clearly showed the unique value of the Nnabakana site in Kiribati for the cultural history of early civil wars between islands. The rich oral stories on the civil war makes the site particularly interesting for Kiribati where foreign contents still dominate its history education at school. The research result also shows the urgent need of its safeguarding since the site located at the coastal zone is exposed to harsh weather conditions facing threats from rising sea level. The site is fully exposed to the hot sunny days, affecting most pillars that cracked and toppled. The strong winds from the west, high tides and big waves are also forcing the pillars to fall and get destroyed. The Kiribati’s Culture Division presented the outcome of the research at the Pacific World Heritage Workshop held in Apia in September last year. The presentation caught the attention of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and resulted in the financial assistance from the European Union through the Secretariat to support a mapping exercise of the site in 2012. This new grant will allow the Culture Division to obtain carbon dating information and to carry out further documentation and recording. The steps to be followed would be to organise consultations with the Elders of communities concerned and to formulate a long-term management and safeguarding plan for this unique heritage. Read the release …