OF THE WORKING GROUP ON
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Paris, July 25 - More than 100
million children around the world, most of them girls, do not
go to school. If nothing is done, they will join the 875 million
adults who are illiterate. The World Education Forum, held in
Dakar (Senegal) in 2000, took up this challenge by setting a goal
of universal primary education by 2015. Two years later, the first
results of these efforts are coming in.
An Education for All (EFA) Working
Group of representatives of international and non-governmental
organizations, developing countries and bilateral organizations
responsible for following up the Dakar Forum, met at UNESCO Headquarters
in Paris on July 22 and 23.
"Two years on from Dakar,
we see progress in putting mechanisms and resources into place
to move the EFA agenda forward," said UNESCO Director-General
Koïchiro Matsuura. "We must take the measure of our
joint international efforts to guarantee that no population group
remains marginalized from appropriate educational opportunities
and no country is abandoned or overlooked, including countries
in conflict and in post-conflict situations"
Among the 70 countries that have
already drawn up national programmes to implement the Dakar Framework
for Action, Burkina Faso and India told the meeting about their
In 1999, Burkina Faso adopted
a 10-year basic education development plan that was launched last
year. Some 45% of the population live below the poverty line with
an annual per capita income of US$220 or less, and just 27% can
read and write. The government designated 20 provinces as priority
areas because of their low school enrolment and decided to increase
the basic education budget by 6.8% by 2009. It is also handing
over responsibility for non-formal education - literacy and training
for out-of-school children - to NGOs, community groups and trade
unions working in this field.
India says literacy - among its
population of one billion with an annual per capita income of
US$450 - rose from 52.2% in 1991 to 65.4% last year. It has opened
130,000 new schools, enrolled 24 million more children and has
net school enrolment of 71%. The government has decided to focus
its efforts on five states, home to three-quarters of the country's
out-of-school children and to step up involvement of NGOs. It
says the national action plan will be ready by the end of this
At the international level, the
World Bank has launched its Fast-track Programme in line with
commitments made at the International Conference on Financing
Development in Mexico in March and at last month's G8 Summit in
Canada. This new programme will focus on funding Education for
All in 18 countries considered the most in need and meeting set
requirements. They are Albania, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia,
Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Mauritania, Mozambique,
Nicaragua, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen and Zambia.
It will step up existing aid for five other countries - Bangladesh,
the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan.
According to the Bank, an additional
2.5 to 5 billion US dollars a year are needed to achieve the target
of universal primary education by 2015. Education is currently
primarily financed from national budgets, while the international
community on average contributes about 3% of the funding.
"We welcome the pledges of
Monterrey and the G8 Summit in Canada," Mr Matsuura said.
"The idea of a development compact is highly attractive and
the broad emphasis on issues of good governance, such as democracy,
human rights, accountability and responsibility, is welcome. Allow
me, however, to briefly raise a cautionary note by asking whether
this stress on governance will always be helpful to education.
If increased support to education is made dependent on the wide-scale
reform of an entire system of governance, education may be held
back through no direct fault of its own. Perhaps it would be preferable
for educational assistance to be linked to the reform of the administration,
governance and accountability of the education system itself."
The High-Level Group on Education
for All (comprising government ministers and officials of international
NGOs and bilateral and multilateral bodies) will meet in Abuja
(Nigeria) on November 19 and 20, to be followed by a conference
of donor countries, organized by the European Commission on November
27 in Brussels (Belgium).
For more information:
Dakar Follow-up Unit, UNESCO Education Sector
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Fax. (+33) (0)1 4568-5626/7
An international strategy to put the Dakar Framework for Action
on Education for All into operation
for Action (UNESCO, 2000)
The High-Level Group
on Education for All, 2001 Report (UNESCO, 2000)