A mission led by the Director and Representative of UNESCO Office in Afghanistan, Mr Paolo Fontani, conducted a mission to Herat on November 17, 2014, to extend support for the government counterparts and to monitor UNESCO education and culture projects.
Herat is the third largest city in Afghanistan with rich cultural heritage. UNESCO has been conducting projects to support the safeguarding of cultural heritage of Herat for the past decade, and, in recent years, it has also been active on the educational front in the province.
The mission visited the literacy classes in Herat which are conducted under the UNESCO education projects. It also visited the Gawhar Shad Mausoleum complex and Minaret area to monitor the ongoing UNESCO projects. For this visit the UNESCO team comprised of Mr Tarcis Stevens, an expert working on the conservation of both the mausoleum and the Jam Minaret in Ghor, and was accompanied by Mr. Khalili, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Information and Culture, and Mr Ahad Abbasi, Director, Directorate of Historic Monuments. The mission team discussed the future cultural projects to be conducted in Herat for the safeguarding of the Gawhar Shad Mausoleum and the five minarets, including the proposed protection wall within the Mussalla Complex for safeguarding the four Minarets. In order to understand the tile making craftsmanship of Herat, the team also visited the traditional tile making workshop situated in the Friday Mosque.
Mr Fontani, during the official meeting with H.E. Hajji Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi, the Governor of Herat Province, discussed the cooperation between UNESCO and the Herat provincial government concerning education and culture. They exchanged ideas about UNESCO education programmes in the province, namely Enhancement of Literacy in Afghanistan (ELA), Literacy for Empowerment of Afghan Policy (LEAP), as well as culture projects related to preserving the cultural heritage sites in Herat, in particular Gawhar Shad Mausoleum and Minaret complex.
Mr. Fontani presented updates to H. E. the Governor on ELA programme in Herat funded by the Government of Sweden, the LEAP programme funded by the Government of Japan, and projects on safeguarding of the cultural heritage in Herat funded by the Government of Italy. He expressed his appreciation to H.E. Governor for supporting UNESCO’s programmes in the province. Currently, ELA is working in six districts of Herat (Herat capital, Enjeel, Zendajan, Karokh, Ghorian, and Guzara) with 9,900 literacy learner beneficiaries, including 5,940 females. LEAP is also very active in Herat, with literacy training planned for 600 Afghan patrolmen/women.
Mr. Fontani expressed his strong wish to expand these programmes based on the needs in the Western Region. He asked for the Governor’s continuous cooperation to increase the role of local communities in support of the ELA programme, increase enrolment of police in the LEAP project, and in safeguarding the rich cultural heritage for future generations.