JNC-UNESCO Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

The Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO celebrates 50 years this year. According to UNESCO’s Director General, Irena Bokova, it was “50 years of leadership and action”. The JNC-UNESCO have also been congratulated by Ministers associated with the organization and by its counterparts for being active, effective and highly respected.

To date we have had the issuance of a 50th Anniversary supplement and a Church Service. At the Church service, Dr. Donald Rhodd, Vice Chair of JNC-UNESCO, delivered the anniversary message at the Shiloh Apostolic Church in Port Antonio, Portland.

Dr Rhodd delivering the anniversary message at the Shiloh Apostolic Church

The choice of worshiping in Portland for the 50th Anniversary was made because this parish, along with St Thomas and St Andrew, now boasts the distinction of being the home to Jamaica’s first UNESCO World Heritage site – the Blue and John Crown Mountains. This prestigious recognition has come after many years of advocacy on the part of the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO and other stakeholders. With this inscription as a World Heritage Site, the Blue and John Crow Mountains join other such sites as the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt and Old Havana in Cuba.

Jamaica’s association with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was cemented three months after our Independence, when in November 1962, we took up our seat as a Member State. Three years later in 1965, and guided at that time by a youthful Edward Seaga as Minister responsible for culture, the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO was established.

The areas of focus of UNESCO, which are education, science, culture, information and communication, are central to national development. Through the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO, our voice at UNESCO is strong, active and respected and our country has been able to benefit in these areas from UNESCO resources.

Over its 50 years, the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO has devoted itself to people development, the building of capacity, and the promotion of participation, cooperation and respect. Through its efforts, significant assistance has been provided in areas of education planning, literacy, the teaching in science and mathematics, development of our library service and mass communication.

Jamaicans have also given exemplary service to UNESCO. The late Hon. Hector Wynter, OJ, served as Chairman of the UNESCO Executive Board from 1974–76, and the late Hon. Prof. Rex Nettleford, OM, served for many years on the Executive Board and was Advisor to the former UNESCO Director-General on cultural matters. Our own Veronica Campbell Brown is a UNESCO Sports Ambassador.

In 50 years, the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO, through its committed leadership and dynamic involvement in advancing the work and mission of UNESCO, has proved itself a highly effective and worthy institution.