The First UNESCO Management of Social Transformation (MOST) Forum

The First UNESCO Management of Social Transformation (MOST) Forum


Mr Getachew Engida, Deputy Director General, UNESCO

Ministers of Social Development/Cabinet Secretaries present

Principal Secretaries Present

Mr. Mohamed Djelid, Director UNESCO Regional Office, Nairobi

Amb. Dr. Mary Khimulu, Vice President of MOST Inter-Governmental Commission

Excellences and Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of the Academia

Ag. Chair, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO

Secretary General, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO

Distinguished Guests

I am happy to join you in launching the first UNESCO MANAGEMENT OF SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION (MOST) forum of ministers of social development. I welcome all our guests to Nairobi and Kenya and trust that in addition to a successful official tour, you will have opportunity to enjoy Kenya’s unique and unforgettable magic.

I am aware that such forums have been successfully held in West Africa and Latin America. On that note, I am happy to note that ministers from Ghana and Ecuador have joined us in their capacities as MOST forum presidents for their regional forums. I trust that their experiences will enrich our inaugural forum and give us an idea of the possibilities at hand.

Without a doubt, this forum is overdue by decades.  For long, Africa has been discussing development in a conservative, hesitant way. We did not have the confidence in our ability to speak to our aspirations.

We lacked the resources to supply our most critical needs. We embraced socioeconomic development paradigms, which were inappropriate or incomplete. Most of all, our leaders governed in a global context that was averse to dramatic change, whether positive or negative. For this reason, development discourse was all about moderating expectations, justifying inequality and normalising unsatisfactory socioeconomic circumstances.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In time, positively ambitious development programmes came to be associated with revolution and instability. Justice was a highly suspicious expression.

Today, East Africa stands among regions, which are witnessing rapid socioeconomic change. This is a result of global convergence of beneficial factors as well as a renaissance in African socioeconomic imagination.

We are rediscovering our vision and ambition. We have discarded the snail’s pace, trickle-down development model for a rapid, ambitious, comprehensive transformation. This transformation is built on the essential foundation of Shared Prosperity. This places justice at the heart of all development discourse and agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In East Africa, we are going places, and we are getting there fast. In East Africa, we are comfortable giving justice pride of place at the very heart of socioeconomic development. This forum therefore speaks to a very real and specific need of our region.

It is overdue by several years. This is to say as a region, we need to engage without looking back and develop, share and interrogate ideas, approaches and policies, which advance social transformation and justice in Eastern Africa. This sort of engagement is imperative for the promotion of shared prosperity, peace and justice in our region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am informed that this forum will have exciting panel discussions where participants will thrash out issues of poverty, inequality, youth challenges, unemployment, skills development, as well as matter relating to population and health. This is evidence that discussions of justice and social transformation entails the same issues as interventions connected to economic growth.

This is exciting because we have, as a region and as a globe, gone full circle. We now don’t take it for granted that there is a direct relationship between prosperity and justice. No one can argue about the connection between justice and development. We are therefore having another conversation on development since we speak to one of its essential dimensions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Kenya, the subject matter of this forum emanates from the heart and soul of our Republic. Our constitution sets out National Values to include human dignity, equity, social justice, inclusiveness, equality, human rights, non-discrimination and the protection of the marginalised.

Sustainable development is also a national value. These values are the essence of our dispensation. They are non-optional parameters of our governance. The economic and social rights contained in our Bill of Rights elaborate some of the expectations in regard to these values. The constitution directs every national activity towards the achievement of these values.

Conscious of this context, the Government has invested robustly in programmes aimed at realising this agenda. We continue to support the Free and Compulsory Primary Education to embrace all Kenyans irrespective of economic status and give them the one real chance at empowering and transforming their lives.

Beyond that, we are now implementing Free Day Secondary Education in our public schools. We also subsidize for those in boarding secondary schools. All university students are now eligible to student loans, which originally was available to a limited number of students. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have also expanded the social safety net by providing financial support for the old, orphaned, widowed, disabled and other vulnerable members of the society through direct cash transfer system. Similarly, the National Hospital Insurance Fund is currently implementing a social medical insurance to all Kenyans to make treatment and care available regardless of economic status.

We have a statutory framework which ring-fences public procurement opportunities for youth, women and persons with disability. This group also benefits from concessionary financing and business incubation and development support through the Youth Enterprise Fund, the Women’s Enterprise Fund and the Uwezo Fund.

We look forward to engaging more in this and future forums, because we are just getting started. Therefore, we want to enrich and expand our ability to deliver social justice in fulfilment of our constitutional mandates.

We also want Kenya to stand in the League of Nations committed to real prosperity. As I earlier stated, a commitment to real prosperity is a commitment to justice. I trust that this forum will pronounce a Nairobi Declaration in resounding and compelling terms.

Kenya also looks forward to engaging in the Post-2015 Development Agenda driven by UN member States through UNESCO. Our expectations of this forum are, therefore, rightly high.

I thank UNESCO and its Director-General, who is ably represented here, for its commitment to the aspirations and agenda of MOST. We look forward to more intensive collaboration in days to come. Once again I thank you all for your presence and commitment. I wish everyone a rewarding stay in Kenya, and successful deliberations.

It is now my pleasure to officially open the MOST Forum of Ministers of Social Development from Easter African countries.

Thank you.