note address by the Director-General of UNESCO (in English
UNESCO's Director-General opens High-Level Group meeting
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
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 Pakistans
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 Pakistans 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
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
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 Pakistans
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.
are key to success
Jobless with no education
or educated but jobless, characterizes Africas
education problems, said Moustapha Sourang, Senegals
Minister of Education. Education systems in Senegal, like
other African States, are far from fulfilling their mission,
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
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
Education for All is Education
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
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 Browns
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, Canadas
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.
Canadas 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 cant 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
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
There was consensus that
political will should go beyond the education ministry
to involve other ministries and indeed heads of state
and prime ministers.