President McAleese Officially Launches UNESCO Chair at NUI Galway

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

(Leagan Gaeilge) President of Ireland, Mary McAleese will today (Wednesday, 4 March) visit NUI Galway to officially launch the UNESCO Chair for Children, Youth and Civic Engagement. The UNESCO Chair is the first awarded in the Republic of Ireland, and President McAleese described it as a 'fitting endorsement by peers worldwide of the important work that is being done at NUI Galway to help solve the real problems experienced by young people and families in our communities'. The Chair is hosted at the Child and Family Research Centre (CFRC) in the University's School of Political Science and Sociology. Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the CFRC, with over 20 years experience in family support, policy and research, is the Chairholder. Referencing writer John McGahern at the launch, Professor Dolan told an audience of over 200 guests: "While many young people thrive during childhood, others sadly do not experience life as good or safe and some more tragically can say they rarely have a 'calm journey through the day'". Professor Dolan said that supporting children who experience adversity and disadvantage through encouraging civic participation had crucial benefits in terms of improved self-esteem, self-efficacy and wellbeing. He said: "I have come to the conclusion, that civically engaging children and youth produces benefits for all children. Particularly in the case of children who are experiencing severe difficulties, their civic engagement can lead to significant improvement and help rebuild key relationships in their lives". Koïchiro Matsuura, Director–General of UNESCO has said: "NUI Galway has a longstanding commitment to civic engagement. The creation of this Chair is an opportunity to expand and share this expertise for the benefit of children and young people everywhere, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalised. Funded under the UNESCO University Education Twinning and Networking Scheme, the programme of work associated with the Chair, will focus on an exchange of learning among international University partners and affiliated centres for children, which work on civic engagement programmes in countries including Bulgaria, Lithuania and Zambia. NUI Galway's President, Dr James J. Browne, speaking at the launch, said: NUI Galway is particularly honoured to be awarded the first UNESCO Chair in the Republic of Ireland. The establishment of a formal mechanism for knowledge creation and exchange in the area of Children, Youth and Civic Engagement across, and between, institutions of higher education and non-governmental organisations particularly with developing countries and countries in transition will bring a new dimension to the work of the University. We look forward to fruitful cooperation with UNESCO and are delighted to have this opportunity to enhance the role of the University in building civil society partnerships". Professor Dolan's team will work with two key partners in Ireland: the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway, a forum through which the University plays a leading role in the development of civic leadership skills in students. The second partner is Foróige, Ireland's leading voluntary youth organisation, whose CEO Seán Campbell said: "This is indeed a proud day for Ireland". He added "I am certain that the meeting of theory, practice and policy that will result from this partnership will transform the lives of young people the world over".
Seolann an tUachtarán Máire Mhic Ghiolla Íosa Cathaoir UNESCO go hoifigiúil in OÉ Gaillimh
(View in English) Beidh an tUachtarán Máire Mhic Ghiolla Íosa in OÉ Gaillimh inniu (Dé Céadaoin, 4 Márta) chun Cathaoir UNESCO le Leanaí, Óige agus Comhpháirteachas Poiblí a sheoladh go hoifigiúil. Is é seo an chéad Chathaoir UNESCO a bronnadh i bPoblacht na hÉireann, agus dúirt an tUachtarán Mhic Ghiolla Íosa gur "dearbhú tráthúil é Cathaoir UNESCO ó phiaraí ar fud na cruinne ar an obair thábhachtach atá ar bun ag OÉ Gaillimh leis na fadhbanna atá ag daoine óga agus a dteaghlaigh a réiteach". Is san Ionad Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh, cuid de Scoil na hEolaíochta Polaitiúla agus Socheolaíochta san Ollscoil, atá Cathaoir UNESCO bunaithe. Is ar an Ollamh Pat Dolan, Stiúrthóir an Ionaid Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh, fear ag a bhfuil breis is 20 bliain caite aige i mbun tacaíochta, beartais agus taighde teaghlaigh, a bronnadh Cathaoir UNESCO in OÉ Gaillimh. Thug an tOllamh Dolan focail an scríbhneora John McGahern chun cuimhne ag an seoladh agus é ag caint leis an 200 aoi a bhí i láthair: "While many young people thrive during childhood, others sadly do not experience life as good or safe and some more tragically can say they rarely have a 'calm journey through the day'". Deir an tOllamh Dolan go mbaineann buntáistí iontach tábhachtach le tacú le leanaí atá ag déileáil le cruatan agus le míbhuntáiste trí chomhpháirteachas poiblí a spreagadh ar mhaithe le féinmheas, le féin-éifeachtúlacht agus le folláine a fheabhsú. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá aige: "Táim féin den bharúil anois go dtéann comhpháirteachas poiblí chun tairbhe gach uile linbh. Go háirithe i gcás leanaí atá ag déileáil le deacrachtaí dáiríre, is minic a bhíonn comhpháirteachas poiblí mar bhonn le feabhas suntasach agus mar bhonn le gaolmhaireachtaí lárnacha a chruthú i saol na leanaí seo". Dúirt Koïchiro Matsuura, Stiúrthóir Ginearálta UNESCO: "Tá OÉ Gaillimh tiomanta don chomhpháirteachas poiblí le blianta fada anuas. Deis í Cathaoir UNESCO an saineolas seo a fhorbairt agus a roinnt ar mhaithe le leanaí agus daoine óga i ngach áit, go háirithe na leanaí is éislinní agus is imeallaithe". Mar chuid de Scéim Nasctha agus Líonraithe Oideachais Ollscoile UNESCO, beidh gníomhaíochtaí Chathaoir UNESCO dírithe ar mhalartú foghlama i measc comhpháirtithe idirnáisiúnta Ollscoile agus ionaid chleamhnaithe do leanaí atá i mbun oibre ar chláir comhpháirteachais phoiblí i dtíortha cosúil leis an mBulgáir, an Liotuáin agus an tSaimbia. Ag an seoladh dúirt an Dr James Browne, Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh: "Is mór an chúis onóra do OÉ Gaillimh go bhfuiltear ag bronnadh na chéad Chathaoireach UNESCO i bPoblacht na hÉireann uirthi. Bunófar meicníocht fhoirmiúil le heolas a chruthú agus a mhalartú i réimse na Leanaí, na hÓige agus an Chomhpháirteachais Phoiblí i measc institiúidí ardoideachais agus eagraíochtaí neamhrialtasacha, go háirithe le tíortha atá i mbéal forbartha agus le tíortha atá ag dul trí thréimhse athraithe agus idir na hinstitiúidí agus na heagraíochtaí sin, rud a chuirfidh gné nua le hobair na hOllscoile. Táimid ag súil le comhoibriú go rathúil le UNESCO agus tá ríméad orainn an deis seo a bheith againn cur le ról na hOllscoile i mbunú comhpháirtíochtaí sochaí sibhialta". Oibreoidh an tOllamh Dolan agus a fhoireann le beirt chomhpháirtithe in Éirinn: an Tionscnamh Eolais Phobail in OÉ Gaillimh – fóram na hOllscoile le ról lárnach a ghlacadh i bhforbairt scileanna ceannaireachta i measc na mac léinn. Is é Foróige an dara comhpháirtí, príomheagraíocht dheonach an aosa óig in Éirinn. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Seán Campbell, Príomhoifigeach Feidhmiúcháin Fhoróige: "Lá iontach bródúil é seo d'Éirinn. Táim cinnte go n-athróidh an nasc a chruthóidh Cathaoir UNESCO idir teoiric, cleachtas agus beartas saol an aosa óig ar fud na cruinne".
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