January 24 is the International Day of Education.
Amid the ever-growing international concerns for education, the UN General Assembly held in December 2018 decided to designate January 24 of each year as the International Day of Education in order to raise public awareness of the position and role of education in promoting world peace and sustained development.
Commemorating this day, we are recalling with deep emotion the immortal exploits of President Kim Il Sung, who provided unreserved material and moral support to the struggle of African countries to develop national education.
When Gnassingbe̒ Eyade̒ma, the former President of Togo, visited our country in September 1974 to learn from the experience gained by our country, President Kim Il Sung personally met with him and had an open-hearted talk. During the talk, the Togolese President said that he was to build a stadium in Togo. Hearing his words, President Kim Il Sung said that they should build more schools rather than big conference room or theatre because it would be more important for them to build more schools to bring up national cadres and educate young people.
In September 1983, he also arranged in our country the First Conference of Ministers of Education and Culture of the Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries with the aim of easing the shortage of national cadres in Africa. He personally attended the conference and gave a speech on the importance and ways of developing education and culture.
Then he particularly invited the conference participants to Kumsusan Assembly Hall (at that time) and organized a consultative meeting. He said that the important task in building national culture is to develop national education and underlined the need to strictly adhere to the principle of giving highest priority to education in order to build a new society in a successful way.
Furthermore, President Kim Il Sung dispatched our technical personnel to Guinea, Madagascar, Congo, Benin, and many other countries in the 1960s-1980s to build nurseries, kindergartens, schools and children’s halls and sent school supplies like pencils and notebooks and musical instruments. He also took benevolent measures to invite students from several countries like Gambia and Lesotho to our country and let them study medicine, construction, electrical engineering, and many other subjects to their hearts’ content.
The former President Nyerere of Tanzania looked around the academies wonderfully built in his country under the meticulous care of President Kim Il Sung and sent a letter of gratitude expressing his resolve to establish a revolutionary education system and raise talents on an extensive scale by modelling all schools across the country on the academies. Peoples of Africa named kindergartens and nurseries after President Kim Il Sung in boundless reverence for the great master and benevolent teacher of education and creation of culture.
In this way, the legend of noble love for posterity created by the peerless great man in faraway Africa will be handed down forever, being cherished deep in the hearts of progressive people, however the time passes and the generation changes.
In the future, too, we will support African countries in their efforts to achieve social progress by concentrating on developing our country’s education and will actively contribute to strengthening the relations of friendship and cooperation with regional countries.
Song Se Il
President of Korea-Africa Association