Education for All
Worldwide Action in Education

Education for All

  • Introduction
    EFA Forum
    Improving basic education in the French-speaking countries of the Sahel
  • The EFA Initiative of the Nine Most Populous Developing Countries
    Inter-generation education and the safeguarding of the cultural heritage

  • Graph: The Nine Most Populous Developing Countries
    Estimated number of Adult illiterates, in 1990
    (in millions)
  • Graph: The Nine Most Populous Developing Countries
    Estimated number of out-of-school children
    in 1990 and 2000 (in millions)

  • Introduction

    Placing more children in classrooms and more adults in literacy classes doesn't do much good if they don't learn something of value while they are there. That is why UNESCO engages in activities intended to improve the content of basic education, the effectiveness of teachers and instructors and the efficiency of schools.

    EFA cannot be achieved through a simple "business-as-usual" approach. What is needed is new thinking and innovative approaches. In March 1990, the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, launched an historic campaign to make basic education - encompassing early childhood and primary education, literacy and life skills training for youth and adults - available to all by the year 2000. A follow-up programme launched with several Jomtien partners, for example, seeks to identify and promote innovations in basic education in developing countries in order to make them known to others, thereby encouraging mutual learning.

    UNESCO also helps countries gauge their own progress towards EFA goals, and bolster their technical capabilities with training and support. The Organization assists in preparing projects which countries submit for funding support, and helps raise funds from multilateral and bilateral donors.

    One important area of action is to foster a policy dialogue and improve co-operation between all partners involved in the EFA initiative. UNESCO therefore works closely with other United Nations agencies, non-governmental and voluntary organizations and the media to keep basic education high on the political agenda, thereby promoting governmental action.

    Is Education for All an impossible goal? The challenge is certainly daunting, but with renewed political will, and enhanced international solidarity and approaches, it can be achieved.

    EFA Forum

    The International Consultative Forum on Education for All, established subsequent to the Jomtien Conference, is an informal mechanism enabling all the participants represented at the Conference and interested in ensuring that it will be followed up to consult each other and exchange information. Comprising 60 personalities representing a cross-section of all those concerned including the media and the business community, the Forum works to maintain basic education high on the international agenda. The Forum's Secretariat undertakes a range of activities such as supporting a network of NGOs, putting out the quarterly newsbulletin EFA 2000, operating a database on country follow-up to Jomtien, and publishing EFA status reports.

    Improving basic education
    in the French-speaking countries of the Sahel

    Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal

    This project, which represents one of the first practical applications in the countries of the Sahel of the recommendations adopted at the Jomtien Conference, is simultaneously implementing two components for non-formal education: the development of national management capabilities and the production and distribution of teaching materials for literacy and post-literacy training.

    Achievements so far can be summarized as follows:

    1. Six national educational management training teams, composed of 35 trainers, have been given instruction at the subregional level. Five training modules have been prepared for educational management trainers at the subregional level, along with six sets of training materials for the individual countries.

    2. Some 500,000 literacy and post-literacy primers have been produced and distributed in the six participating countries. Six national workshops, attended by 200 non-formal education workers, were held to ensure the careful selection of the materials and improve their quality. A film illustrating all aspects of the project has been produced.

    The EFA Initiative of the Nine Most Populous Developing Countries

    It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If so, should not two pictures be worth two thousand words? Study the two graphs and you will quickly understand the logic and purpose of the EFA Initiative of the Nine Most Populous Developing Countries. These nine countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan - which account for just over half the planet's population, have 72 per cent of the world's illiterates and over half of its out-of-school children. Hence, unless there is significant progress in these countries, it will be difficult to improve the educational situation in the world as a whole. Put in positive terms, these countries offer a way 'to get a handle on the problem'. By concentrating on only 9 of the world's 200 or so countries, global educational statistics could be dramatically improved.

    In December 1993, the Heads of State and/or Government of these nine countries will meet in New Delhi, at an Education for All Summit to pledge themselves and their governments to new efforts to spur the progress of education in their countries and by extension in the world as a whole.

    Inter-generation education and safeguarding
    of the cultural heritage

    Inter-generation education has its roots in the way in which knowledge is exchanged between older and younger generations. It is concerned with the preservation of parts of the cultural heritage which are not handed down by formal education - medicine, health remedies, traditional crafts, folklore, etc. - and the preservation of skills patiently acquired by older people but which it has not been possible to pass on to the younger generations. This knowledge is collected and put into booklets or other publications, and is taken up and used in the people's centres as educational post-literacy material. In this way, the young generations, though literacy education, become familiar with traditional art and culture.

    Through UNESCO's assistance, students from the University of Legon in Ghana have launched a project to make an inventory of customs, songs, proverbs and other traditional practices. This work is being carried out carefully and meticulously and is safeguarding the cultural values of the region while establishing a rewarding dialogue between the students and older people.

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