Dakar Follow-up Bulletin No 30
Contents (10 September 2001)

Attachment in this issue:

UNESCO's Director-General calls for enhanced partnerships in EFA

"The drive for EFA will stand or fail on the galvanization of effective collaboration among all partners," said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura yesterday at the opening of the second meeting of the Working Group on EFA in Paris (10-12 September).

Addressing some forty leading professionals from a representative range of EFA partners, Mr Matsuura underlined the need for strengthening the EFA partnership and collaboration. "UNESCO has been given an important role to play in the EFA movement, and I want it to perform that role as effectively and successfully as possible. The EFA challenge, however, is far too wide, deep and diverse for it to be driven or shaped by one organization or one constituency of opinion," he said.

UNESCO has two key tasks:

1) facilitating the development of EFA partnerships and

2) ensuring that the activities of all EFA partners are compatible with one another and consistent with the EFA agenda. To this end, the Working Group will discuss tomorrow the outline for a global EFA strategy, which will be, it is expected, an indicative strategic framework within which partnership and collaboration will become clearer. Participants will also make recommendations to the High-level Group on EFA, to meet for the first time from 29-30 October, in Paris.

Mr Matsuura also highlighted the need for collaboration at regional, subregional and national levels and between all partners, in particular civil society organizations.

He finally asked the meeting for advice on the following issues:
1) the role of the private or corporate sector in EFA;

2) the appropriate lines of action to harness information and communication technologies;

3) accelerating efforts in early childhood care and education and

4) the creation of new flagship programmes on teacher training, governance and disability.

The Working Group is an informal advisory body and comprises some forty representatives of countries, regional organizations, bilateral and multilateral agencies, civil society organizations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Commission and the G8. The first meeting of the Working Group took place in November 2000.

Regional mechanisms to support country efforts

The Directors of UNESCO's offices presented the progress made at regional and subregional levels to promote national EFA action. In some cases, co-ordination is taking place through existing mechanisms and in others new bodies are being established. Their key objectives are capacity-building, resource mobilization and advocacy.

Africa: National EFA co-ordinator appointed in all but one country

Armoogum Parsuramen, Director of UNESCO Dakar, described the great challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa where, at the projected rates of growth, about 50 per cent of all countries are unlikely to reach universal primary education by 2015. The good news is that 45 out of 46 countries have now appointed national EFA co-ordinators and action plans are expected for all countries by September 2002. Next week national EFA co-ordinators from forty African countries will gather in Paris to discuss the preparation of these plans, review the draft regional action plan, develop regional mechanisms for the EFA follow-up and promote collaboration with development partners.

Latin America and the Caribbean: Stepping up efforts to mobilize countries

Most countries in Latin American and Caribbean already have education plans in place. Some national plans, however, do not take the Dakar Framework for Action into account. "It's difficult to mobilize countries around the EFA agenda," said Ana-Luiza Machado, Director of UNESCO Santiago. "We need to discuss how we can attain country ownership." UNESCO and other United Nations agencies are now stepping up their advocacy through a new website and an EFA information kit.

Asia and the Pacific: A variety of subregional mechanisms established

In the vast Asia/Pacific region, comprising forty-four countries, progress in setting up subregional EFA forums varies from one subregion to another, reported the new Director of UNESCO Bangkok, Sheldon Shaeffer.

The Subregional Forum for South Asia mandated at a Ministerial meeting in April 2001 is planned but not yet in place. Most countries have produced draft action plans, often with inadequate NGO involvement or participation of EFA partners.

In the Pacific, thirteen countries have completed their national action plans but here again, all the EFA partners have not been involved. There is no formal subregional forum in the Pacific. Existing mechanisms are being used.

The Central Asian Education Forum will be established later this year by UNESCO and UNICEF in the wake of national EFA roundtables in five countries. Finally, in southeast Asia most countries are refining existing basic education plans, often without creating national forums or involving civil society.

Sheldon Shaeffer informed participants that many governments are now awaiting donor support to help finance their action plans. The problem, however, is that mechanisms or criteria for assessing these plans are not available, he said.

The Arab States: National EFA teams in all States in place by mid-October

Victor Billeh, Director of UNESCO Beirut, informed the meeting that by mid-October all 21 Arab States are expected to have set up national EFA teams. Ten countries have already identified an EFA focal point and established some sort of EFA Forum.

Country efforts are also supported by ARABEFA, the Arab regional inter-agency mechanism on EFA, co-ordinated by his office. ARABEFA is organizing a series of capacity-building workshops on the process and content of national plans. It has also organized an Ambassadors' Team to mobilize funds for EFA activities.

Europe: Subregional forums to be launched

Alexandre Sannikov, UNESCO's regional education adviser for Europe, reported that three subregions had been identified: South-East Europe, the Caucasus and the Baltic States.

Where South-East Europe is concerned, UNESCO co-operates with the Council of Europe, OECD and UN agencies. The Republic of Moldova and the Republic of Serbia have already received assistance in establishing national EFA forums. In the Baltic States, Lithuania has set up an EFA Forum and in January 2002 a Baltic States EFA subregional meeting will be organized in Riga, Latvia.

The Network of Pedagogical and Languages Universities set up last year ensures co-operation between the three countries in the Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. A Subregional EFA Co-ordinator was appointed at a meeting last May.

The country perspective (Lithuania, Costa Rica, the Philippines and Uganda)

In a session on the national action plans, four country presentations provided an overview of needs and progress todate:


Lithuania is the first European country to have a national EFA Forum. Vaiva Vébraité, the Lithuanian Vice-minister of Education and Science told the meeting that Action Plan priorities were being identified and that a nationwide discussion among all stakeholders would be initiated. "If our many partners in education are willing to assist us both technically and financially, we will achieve our goals," she said.

Ms Vébriaté added that "the issue of quality in basic education is most important, particularly in the face of increasing social disparity, greater poverty for some and inadquate progress in developing democratic citizenship skills. The vision of providing EFA "is as enticing as an impressionist painting. Mastery of technique in delivering the reality is as rare as in art. We assuredly need help," she concluded.

Costa Rica

The state of education in Costa Rica has remained largely the same over the last decade. While enrolment has reached 100 per cent, drop-out remains a serious problem. Only a third of those who enter primary education and two-thirds of those in the tertiary level actually finish the cycle. Areas that require urgent attention are drop-out, secondary education, access to good quality education in poor areas and education for immigrants. Some 20 per cent of young people between 15 and 17 neither study nor work, said Maria Eugenia Paniagua, Director-General of Costa Rica's Sistema Educativo Saint Clare.

Ms Paniagua reminded the meeting that since the 1997 law, Costa Rica allocates 6 per cent of GDP to education.

The Philippines

The Philippines is moving quickly on the EFA agenda and civil society organizations are on board, said Mr Ramon Bacani, Undersecretary of the Department of Education, Culture and Sport, adding that national and sub-national EFA councils have been set up.

The Education Department intends to "engage a pool of basic education specialists in a dialogue on the priorities to be included in the EFA Plan," he added. EFA is also part and parcel of the country's Medium-Term Development Plan, which also links up with the national anti-poverty strategy and agriculture and agrarian sectors. "Educational planning can be strengthened if it takes into account other development sectors," he said.


Uganda's performance in universal primary education is remarkable. Albert Byamugisha of the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports reminded the meeting that enrolment in his country shot up from 2.3 million in 1996 to 6.8 million in 2000. He then outlined the institutional arrangements put in place to meet the Dakar goals: four groups have been formed to address each of the six Dakar goals, to oversee progress in the six areas, monitor progress, and bring the development partners and civil society on board.

The government, he said, is also developing strategies to enhance girls' education and fight HIV/AIDS. "Uganda is on track to meet the 2005 goal of gender equality," said Mr Byamugisha, adding that his country had not yet done much in areas such as early childhood education and lifeskills.

Thematic initiatives as gateways to EFA

"Obstacles to EFA need targeted and co-ordinated action," said Mary-Joy Pigozzi, acting education chief of UNICEF, highlighting how inter-agency thematic initiatives fit into national EFA plans of action.

Speaking particularly on the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI), she said that EFA goals would only be reached if girls' education and other key areas including school health, HIV/AIDS and education in crisis were addressed in the national plans.

"The 2002 deadline for country action plans and the 2005 goal for elimination of gender disparities are inextricably linked," Pigozzi said, adding that "plans must address the gender issue not just mention it!" Affirmative actions, resource mobilization, political commitment and social mobilization on a massive scale are imperative not only for girls' education but for all other thematic initiatives.

Pigozzi also mentioned the importance of networking to create coherence with and across institutions and suggested that the flagship initiatives be brought to the attention of the High-level Group on EFA. "They need to understand the urgency of the 2005 goal."

Bill Ratteree of the International Labour Organization outlined a new inter-agency flagship programme on teachers for quality education. Stressing the critical role of teachers in achieving quality EFA, he outlined the challenges of improving the status and conditions of teachers in order to attract the best school graduates in large numbers. Ratteree pointed to the need for professional teacher education, backed by lifelong development, competitive salaries, and an equitable system of teacher placement and mobility.

Another set of challenges concerns the involvement of teacher organizations in educational decision-making, in particular in developing EFA plans of action. "Teachers need to have a sense of ownership of the EFA process since they are at the heart of it," Bill Ratteree said.

Assessing and funding of EFA national plans

On the subject of the assessment and funding of EFA plans, Donald MacKenzie of USAID said that "national EFA plans must declare war on HIV/AIDS." "The response must be proportional to the magniture of the challenge," he added before going on to present statistics on the impact of HIV/AIDS on education. Concerning assessment of EFA plans, he argued that they must be owned, implemented and monitored by countries themselves. "Donor role is supporting, not policing," he said. "Do current EFA estimates include the cost of replacing personnel, rebuilding institutions and dealing with trauma?" he asked the meeting. To meet the EFA goals, he suggested collaboration through "empowered EFA task groups" in such areas as fundraising, teaching methodologies, information technology and creating new partnerships.

Claudia Von Monbart of the World Bank pointed out that for most countries, school enrolment growth of 5 per cent per year over 15 years would suffice to meet the EFA goals. However, several nations will need growth of up to 10 per cent per year. "The challenge," she said, "will be to improve quality at the same time." By 2002, the World Bank will come up with a "firm position" on the overall EFA financing needs.

She saw the following next steps as vital in accelerating EFA: Significant policy changes without which EFA will not be possible;
  • Defining EFA financing needs on a country-by-country basis;

  • Informing countries of what works and what does not work;

  • Working with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to obtain "near-real time data" for the majority of EFA countries;

  • Using primary school completion rates rather than gross enrolment;

  • Using education as a major force to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
  • The discussion that followed focused on the criteria for credible action plans that would attract funding support. Some suggestions were provided: country ownership of the plans, genuine involvement of civil society and strategies to combat HIV/AIDS.

    Contacts: Anne Muller (a.muller@unesco.org) or Teresa Murtagh (t.murtagh@unesco.org)