The Straits Times
Oct 8, 2007
By Theresa Tan
MORE than two decades after pulling out from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Singapore is re-joining the organisation.
Minister of State for Education and Manpower Gan Kim Yong told reporters on Monday that that it is in Singapore's interest to engage Unesco.
For example, Singapore can learn from other member countries how to improve its education system, he said.
Also, Singapore is keen on cultural and scientific exchanges with other Unesco members in its push to build a knowledge-based economy.
Singapore became a full member of Unesco in 1965 but withdrew from the group in 1985 for several reasons.
One arose from the way Singapore's contributions were calculated, said a statement from the Education Ministry on Monday.
In 1999, then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said that Singapore left Unesco because it was asked to pay more dues than it thought was fair.
Also, Singapore felt that Unesco was a bloated organisation and took the chance to leave after the United States pulled out in 1984.
Washington was unhappy with Unesco's policies and management and felt that it was trying to establish a 'new world information order' that could restrict press freedom.
In 2002, the US rejoined Unesco.
For the past two years, Singapore has been an observer at Unesco, meaning that it can participate in Unesco activities.
The 192-member UN body aims to contribute to global peace and security by promoting education, science and cultural collaboration and communication among nations.
The Singapore's National Commission for Unesco will be set up by end of the year and will include three sub-commissions focusing on education, science and culture and information.
The Commission will plan and co-ordinate Singapore's activities in Unesco and is chaired by Mr Gan.
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