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Heritage Preservation Starts with Education

A new course on world heritage and its conservation offers a good opportunity for young people to learn about the legacy of humanity and gain a sense of responsibility to help protect the planet we live on.

According to a world heritage education program jointly launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and China's Ministry of Education, the course will first be offered at several schools in Beijing before being included as a mandatory course for high school students nationwide.

The new course incorporates photos, slide shows and documentaries on the magnificence of the world heritage sites.

The class aims to tell children what world heritage is and why and how it should be protected.

A total of 177 nations, including China, have signed the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Listed are 754 sites all over the world, of which 29 are in China -- the third most after Spain and Italy.

Currently, protection of the country's cultural and natural resources leaves much to be desired.

Besides natural calamities such as earthquakes and landslides, indiscriminate development such as booming tourism is endangering many historic sites and natural marvels.

Education is undoubtedly the best way to cultivate people's sense for protecting cultural and natural resources.

A World Heritage Education project was first launched by UNESCO in 1994 under the title "Young People's Participation in World Heritage Preservation and Promotion."

The project seeks to encourage and enable tomorrow's decision-makers to participate in heritage conservation locally and globally, and to mobilize youth to respond to the continuing threats facing the survival of the world cultural and natural heritage.

The introduction of such a program in Chinese classrooms will certainly help our young people realize the significance of common heritage, learn about World Heritage sites, the history and traditions of different cultures, ecology, and the importance of protecting biological and cultural diversity.

More importantly, it will help plant a sense of responsibility in the minds of young participants. This is critical in protecting these cultural and natural legacies, as well as our living environment and the limited resources for sustainable development.

(China Daily June 24, 2004)

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