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06 / 09 / 2004
The president of Senegal advocates for "interpenetration" and education in order to advance toward a universal culture

The president of Senegal, Abdoulaya Wade, today at the opening session of "New Ignorances, New Literacies" called for intercultural knowledge. “Cultures are universal values. We have to avoid prejudice. We have to get to know each other better," he said at the press conference in which Koïchiro Maatsura, director general UNESCO also appeared.

Wade defended the universality of culture referring to classical philosophers, "All I know is that I know nothing." “If the 21st century man were aware of his ignorance he would not remained in his own culture and would try to get to know others," he said. He defined cultures as “universal values" and said that he is against prejudices and called for better mutual knowledge among peoples.

Wade made reference to his own experience. “When I was young I loved jazz and went to a lot of music clubs. But I also liked classical music maybe because I received training at school, where I learned to play the violin. I want to say that we need a certain education and intellectual curiosity to break through borders”, he pointed out. "Children cannot reject education. It is difficult to change things with an ignorant adult, but we can change things with children, we can always take them to a museum and explain the meaning of a work of art. And not being aware of the beauty of a painting is also ignorance," he added.

The president of Senegal is in full support of UNESCO's "efforts" for education, the base we need to overcome "closed cultures." “I'm a proponent of the so-called cultural “interpenetration” as a way of advancing toward universal culture," said Abdoulaya Wade. Koïchiro Maatsura, in regards to the progressive hegemony de of Anglo Saxon culture, recalled that UNESCO, the institution he directs, uses French and English as working languages, and that in the United Nations, there are six official languages English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese. Maatsura was also "very satisfied" with the Dialogue "New Ignorances, New Literacies" and the opening ceremony chaired by Princes Elena and other heads of state.