Calicut varsity to have another Unesco chair

The chair dedicated to indigenous cultural heritage and sustainable development will come up on ITSR campus in Wayanad

The University of Calicut will soon have another United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) chair, with the international body approving a proposal to have one dedicated to indigenous cultural heritage and sustainable development. This is the second Unesco chair attached to the institution.

Vice Chancellor M.K. Jayaraj said a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the purpose would be inked very soon. According to official sources, it will come up on the university’s Institute for Tribal Studies and Research (ITSR) campus at Chethalayam in Wayanad district. Last year, Unesco had recognised the university’s community-based disability management and rehabilitation programme as a chair.

A Unesco chair is “a project and a team at a university or a higher education or research institution” that partners with the organisation to advance knowledge and practice in an area that is a priority for both of them. There will be a formal agreement between the Unesco Director-General and the head of the institution hosting the chair. The organisation will fund the functioning of the chair, says the Unesco website.

Students at ITSR will now be able to pursue higher education in educational institutions within the country and abroad through exchange programmes. E. Pushpalatha, who was the director of ITSR, will hold the chair. Unesco has 15 such chairs across various universities in the country.

The sources said the new chair would strive to uplift the academic standards and research aptitude of tribespeople in Kerala and Lakshadweep. It will also help enrich their culture, conserve their heritage, and develop leadership skills. Understanding the diversity of the culture and language of tribespeople and encouraging students and scholars from among them is another aim. Their language, art forms, indigenous medical practices, and ethnic handicrafts too will be promoted.

The proposal for the chair was submitted in 2019. The sources said the pandemic had delayed its follow-up work.

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