Dakar Follow-up Bulletin No. 35
Contents (29 October 2001)

  • UNESCO's Director-General opens High-Level Group meeting on EFA
  • Pakistan and Senegal highlight national EFA experiences
  • Education for All is Education by All


  • Key note address by the Director-General of UNESCO (in English only)

    UNESCO's Director-General opens High-Level Group meeting on EFA

    There is reason to be "cautiously optimistic" about the EFA drive, said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura in his opening address at the first meeting of the High-Level Group on EFA today at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.

    "There is hope that during the course of the years leading up to 2015, we can make real headway towards achieving good quality basic education for all," Mr Matsuura told the twenty-nine members of the Group, which includes Ministers of Education and of International Co-operation, heads of development agencies and civil society representatives. But he also expressed concern about the constraints that impede some countries developing their education systems.

    Mr Matsuura recommended that the High-Level Group should act as a sounding board for the EFA endeavour and he hoped it would empower all members of the group to become vocal and energetic ambassadors for the global drive.
    Mr Matsuura highlighted some key challenges to be tackled if the EFA movement is to succeed.

    1. Educational reform at the country level should be matched with significant policy changes at the international level, especially concerning the additional resources to support country efforts.

    2. Stakeholders at all levels must demonstrate a willingness to enter into new partnerships, including new relationships between government and civil society.

    3. The comprehensive strategy for EFA currently in the making needs to establish an action-oriented and result-based framework.

    4. A more transparent international mechanism for monitoring EFA progress would encourage a shift of focus towards increased accountability.

    Mr Matsuura reiterated the need for broad partnerships in preparing national EFA plans of action, stating that a recent UNESCO survey has shown that consultations, especially with civil society, remain "rather weak".
    Referring to the governments having already completed their EFA plans and awaiting donor support, he said that the development of systematic but sensitive review mechanisms is urgently needed.

    The High-Level Group meeting, which ends tomorrow, is convened and chaired by UNESCO's Director-General. The aim of the meeting is to consider how to sustain political commitment for EFA, accelerate resource mobilization and forge partnerships with civil society.

    Pakistan and Senegal highlight national EFA experiences

    Pakistan: On track for Education for All by 2015

    Pakistan is on track for achieving Education for All by 2015, according to Pakistan’s Minister of Education, Ms Zobaida Jalal, during the session devoted to the theme "Achieving the EFA goals at the national level".

    Ms Jalal outlined the main objectives of Pakistan’s EFA action plan: to reach disadvantaged populations in rural and urban areas, with emphasis on girls and women; to promote community participation at the grassroots level and to improve the quality and relevance of basic education.

    The priorities are primary education, adult literacy and early childhood education. Ms Jalal announced that universal primary education will be a reality for boys by 2010 and for girls by 2015. Some 8,250 new primary schools in the public and private sectors will be opened to accommodate the new enrolments, and 100,000 primary schools will be upgraded and double shifts in existing schools introduced.

    The number of adult literates will increase by 81 million over the next fifteen years, raising the current literacy rate of 49 per cent to 86 per cent.

    Early childhood education will be raised from the current 25 per cent coverage to 50 per cent by 2015. This will involve opening 2,500 early childhood centres in the public sector and 1,500 in the private sector.

    The cost of these efforts is estimated at $7 billion of which 40 per cent will come from national resources, said Ms Jalal. The balance, $4.5 billion, will have to come from external funding.

    Ms Jalal also referred to the three million Afghan refugees currently in Pakistan, “which places enormous pressures on our own projects for social development". Some 35 per cent of Pakistan’s populations of 140 million lives below the poverty line, she said, and called for urgent assistance “to cope with this problem whose magnitude keeps on increasing with every influx.”

    Senegal: Partnerships are key to success

    “Jobless with no education or educated but jobless”, characterizes Africa’s education problems, said Moustapha Sourang, Senegal’s Minister of Education. Education systems in Senegal, like other African States, are far from fulfilling their mission, he added.

    Today, the involvement of all partners - internal as well as external - is a key element in Senegal's education policy. And more holistic, sector-wide approaches are proving more efficient and obliging all partners - bilateral donors and NGOs - to work towards a common goal, said Mr Sourang. According to him, co-operation with civil society is an essential condition to the success of the EFA drive and should be intensified.

    Senegal's new EFA action plan has in fact been elaborated through a broad consultation process and the country is now developing a charter on community participation for a more efficient education system, to be validated at a seminar in Dakar later this year. Mr Sourang warned that the accent placed on achieving education for all could have a negative effect on secondary and higher education. “We must adopt appropriate measures to allow for each level of education to play its role,” he said.

    In the ensuing debate several participants expressed strong and increased commitments to EFA, both in developing the legal framework for basic education and in budgeting more national resources. The Philippines for example, this year introduced free compulsory schooling, dropping all tuition fees.
    Participants also agreed that EFA plans should indicate resource needs and that international financial institutions should increase their funding. Other issues highlighted during the debate were the link between education, poverty and development, the need for greater investment in adult literacy and alternative learning opportunities in non-formal education, and the crucial role education plays in transmitting values.

    Education for All is Education by All

    In Session 2, devoted to building political commitment and partnerships, UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy spoke of the contribution of the multi-partner UN 10-year Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) to eliminate gender disparities.

    UNGEI is beginning to show results, she said. A programme in Bangladesh has helped achieve gender parity in secondary schools; in Mali and Mauritania, teacher training and girl-friendly schools have led to significant increases in female enrolment. Other successes can be found in Yemen, Benin, Egypt and Uganda. "We stand at the most opportune moment imaginable for mobilizing a global alliance [...] based on specific actions for children," Ms Bellamy said. For years girls’ education has been shown to be the single best investment that any society can make. It provides enormous economic benefits, lessens social burdens on governments and makes it possible to create larger, better-prepared workforces.

    Calling for mechanisms to seek out excluded and at-risk children and get them into school she recalled the larger imperative that all children not only get into school, but stay there to the age of 15 at least. “Education for all will remain a dream until we address the deep poverty that keeps children out of school and often makes child labour necessary”, she added. “Unless the 250 million children presently caught up in child labour are provided educational opportunities, we are wasting strategic human resources and perpetuating poverty in the next generation.”

    Speaking on behalf of UNDP, Carol Bellamy referred to Administrator Mark Malloch Brown’s recent letter to all United Nations Resident Co-ordinators urging them to devote special attention to EFA goals, which he termed “crucial to our efforts to help create a world free of poverty and discrimination.”

    Other UN agencies are following suit, she added: ILO is adding girls’ education to its activities; UNHCR is focussing on life-skills education for refugee girls; and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is monitoring recommendations on girls’ education by international conferences.

    Ms Maria Minna, Canada’s Minister for International Co-operation, argued that broad-based consultations is the only way forward to produce durable national EFA action plans. "I'm struck by how the three principles - national ownership, partnership, and the role of civil society - interact with each other," she said. "When they're in synch, they reinforce each other. But if one element is not harnessed to its full potential, the others suffer, and our goals are put further out of reach".

    And to prove that Canada practices what it preaches, Ms Minna announced that Canada submitted a draft of its “donor action plan” to developing countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies in its development. Individuals and organizations in over 40 countries contributed comments to it, which, she said, “enriched our understanding of the challenges ahead and how we might tackle them.”

    Regarding the need to keep EFA finance flowing at a predictable rate, Ms Minna recognized countries’ need for “major infusions of cash”. Apart from financial resources, the availability of human technical and logistical resources were equally necessary. Canada’s own contribution to EFA has been its unilateral moratorium on debt payments “for well-performing HIPC countries” and its increased financing of basic education, which will have quadrupled by 2005.

    As a G8 Chair starting in 2002, Canada intends to play an active role in the G8 Task Force of Senior Officials on Dakar Follow-up and in the Action Plan for Africa, Ms Minna added.

    EFA requires a strategy to provide direction for all its actors, Ms Minna said. While agreeing in Dakar that UNESCO co-ordinate the EFA partners, she wondered whether this is sufficient to carry the drive forward. “Is the mandate clear and strong enough? Have we provided the right tools to operationalize Education for All?”, she asked.

    During the ensuing debate, Mr Jo Ritzen, Vice-president of the World Bank, said that in addition to the thirty-two countries likely to miss the Dakar goals if action is not taken, another forty-four others are unlikely to meet the gender equality target of 2005. The High-Level Group should go further, he said, and give ministers the data they require, such as why countries are doing well, why others are ‘at risk’ and how we can build an international compact.

    The low level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to education, "demonstrates that we need to work together," said Jean-Claude Faure of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD, who called for more precise information and road maps on the different aspects of the Dakar goals and on the various dimensions of poverty. "We can’t deal with them separately. We need to work from a common foundation," he said. He also called for tools for sharing information and dialogue and greater links between the global movement and individual countries, and multilateral and bilateral partners.

    In stating its support for the global initiative to mobilize resources and establish the strategies to support country efforts, Oxfam proposed setting up a small working team to co-ordinate it. This idea was also supported by the Global March for Child Labour.

    There was consensus that political will should go beyond the education ministry to involve other ministries and indeed heads of state and prime ministers.

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