Dakar Follow-up Bulletin No. 36
Contents (30 October 2001)

  • High-Level Group on EFA demands redoubling of efforts
  • Highlights of the discussion on the second day of the High-Level Group


  • Text of Communiqué from High-Level Group (in English and French)

    High-Level Group on EFA demands redoubling of efforts

    The first meeting of the High-Level Group on EFA ended today in Paris by adopting a Communiqué requesting all EFA partners to redouble their efforts to meet the goals of Education for All. The Communiqué calls for greater co-ordination of efforts, partnerships with civil society and increased and more efficient funding of basic education.

    The Group comprising twenty-nine Ministers of Education and of International Co-operation, heads of development agencies and civil society representatives, agreed on setting up a Task Force to develop a strategy to operationalize the Dakar Framework before March 2002. The strategy should, inter alia, identify major actions to be taken with specified time-lines, general roles and responsibilities of partners and a consensus on a global initiative for resource mobilization that should be implemented with immediate effect. Led by UNESCO, the Task Force will bring together some fifteen representatives of all EFA partners.

    The Communiqué also proposes a series of immediate actions to be taken to accelerate the EFA process at country level.

    1. Countries must accelerate progress towards sector plans which encompass all EFA goals. These plans must be in place by 2002.

    2. Building on existing structures, partners at the country level must develop criteria and mechanisms for reviewing and mobilizing resources for the EFA plans. Where countries are unable to fund their action plans, the World Bank should take the lead in identifying and filling the resource gaps. In situations where the World Bank cannot do so, the United Nations and other partners should find ways to fill these gaps.

    The Communiqué also calls for an authoritative and analytical annual EFA monitoring report drawing upon national data and assessing the extent to which countries and the international community are meeting their Dakar commitments.

    Finally, the Communiqué proposes that UNESCO build on the experiences of the first High-Level Group meeting to ensure a more focused discussion in future meetings.

    Highlights of the discussion on the second day of the High-Level Group

    The debate focused on:
    - Resource mobilization
    - The G8 Task Force on Education
    - A role for civil society

    Mobilizing resources

    To implement the Dakar pledge that no countries seriously committed to Education for All would want for lack of funding, two critical questions need to be answered, said Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development Co-operation (DFID), United Kingdom. When is it clear that a country is ‘seriously committed’ and how will the international community fulfil its pledge? “We need to clarify what developing countries need to do to show a serious commitment to Education for All,” she said. She suggested the following criteria:

    - Strong political will showing commitment to universal primary education and eliminating gender disparities;
    - Sound national policies closely linked to poverty reduction strategies. Separate EFA plans, outside poverty reduction schemes or in addition to existing education sector plans, should not be developed.
    - Rapid abolition of user fees and other cost barriers to education;
    - The level of national allocations to basic education;
    - Efforts to promote gender equality. This includes training teachers to greater awareness of gender issues and the creation of safe school environments, etc.

    If countries are found to be seriously committed, agencies must respond appropriately, Ms Short said, adding that “development agencies as a whole are still not giving basic education the resources it needs.”

    Jo Ritzen, Vice-president, Human Development Network of the World Bank referred to need to reconcile two inter-connected challenges. The need to fill the financing gap and the policy gap. The financing gap, he explained, was the difference between the resources countries themselves can mobilize and the amount they will need to meet the Dakar goals. Current estimates, generally based on existing unit costs and financial structures were, he said, unsatisfactory because “they assume for the most part that EFA can be achieved by doing what is already being done, only more of it.” Yet EFA entails reaching out to ever more marginalized populations, and children with disability and addressing issues such as repetition and drop out, he said.

    EFA will not be achieved therefore without a dramatic shift in country policies. The effort to bridge the financing gap must be matched by a commitment by countries to fill the policy gap. “Without bridging one we will not be able to bridge the other,” said Mr Ritzen, adding, "we will support you as you work through these change processes country by country.”

    A new estimate of the EFA financing gap, based on a country-by-country analysis, will be developed prior to the spring meetings of the World Bank and the Development Committee, said Mr Ritzen.

    Mr Takao Kawakami, President of Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) announced that Japan intends to allocate roughly $750 million to education, health, medical services and water in Africa over the next five years. During this period, Japan will also spent a total of $3 billion in measures against infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS and, starting next year, will send youth volunteers to work with African communities on disseminating information on HIV/AIDS.

    Mr Kawakami also referred to Japan’s comprehensive package - to the tune of $15 billion over five years - to bridge the digital divide.

    The French Co-operation Minister, Charles Josselin, reaffirmed the commitment of France to assist Education for All efforts nationally and internationally but warned that "additional resources should not be invested in education system showing no efficiency". "Basic education must be elaborated within an overall sectoral strategic framework and ownership and partnerships are keywords for developing sound EFA action plans," he said.

    Mr Josselin announced that France will give debt relief of some 10 billion Euros (roughly $8,7 billion) under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country Initiative (HIPC) to benefit the social sector, in particular education. France is also reorienting its development aid to top up countries' capacities in evaluation, analysis and decentralization. France is also recruiting, Mr Josselin said, 350 technical assistants to assist developing countries and has created a French education fund of 3,5 million France ($467,000) within UNESCO to assist committed countries in developing their EFA action plans.

    In the ensuing debate, the President of Education International, Mary Hatwood Futrell asked how, when and under whose leadership the international community will help countries fund national EFA plans of action. "Some countries have developed sound plans and need money now to start implementing them," she said. Tanzania urgently needs some $93 million per year for EFA, she said. She urged that greater investment in education should make a difference in the classroom rather than to bureaucracies. Clare Short of the United Kingdom replied that a Global Fund sounds good but it's not the way forward. "We want to create a sustainable system, building on a reform process," she said. The "urgent task" is to operationalize the goals," said Jean-Claude Faure, chairman of the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD. "We need to be able to measure the flow of aid," he said, adding that mutual accountability is essential for countries and donors.

    The Minister of Education of Senegal, Moustapha Sourang, welcomed the donor promise to finance national EFA action plans. "It is the first time since the 1980s that we see such concrete commitments," he said. "It will give us a huge boost although we know that we cannot rely on external finances alone".

    The G8 Task Force on Education

    Giandomenico Magliano, Director-General for Italian Development Co-operation and Chair of the G8 Task Force on Education outlined the purpose of the Task Force, set up by the G8 meeting in Genoa. It will:
    - facilitate co-ordination between governments and donors,
    - mobilize the resources, and
    - respond to clearly identified needs and monitor advances towards the Dakar commitments.

    Other operational proposals, he said, could consist of systematically including basic education in development assistance programme; promoting the training of planners, catalysing civil society participation and promoting innovative ways to transfer know-how from the private sector. He cited as an example a worldwide campaign for businesses to promote training programmes in developing countries within the framework of national plans.

    This Task Force will hold its first meeting tomorrow (31 October).

    A role for civil society

    After drawing attention to the role of civil society in EFA internationally, nationally and locally, OXFAM Director Barbara Stocking sketched her vision of the Global Initiative. It is based on sound national plans, a “global ledger” in the form of an annual report tracking progress and a financing framework .

    UNESCO, the World Bank and other partners should work together on the financing gap to produce a global picture, she said. She stressed the urgency of having such a global assessment by spring to allow for discussions on it at the UN Special Session and at the upcoming G8 meeting in Canada.

    For Kailash Satyarthi, Chairperson of the Global March Against Child Labour, the right to education must be non-negotiable. “We treat education as a welfare measure,” not a right, he said, before going on to emphasize a number of preconditions to make education a right: ownership by the common people; genuine participation of all stakeholders at all levels, national and international funding and monitoring of these funds; co-ordination between ministries involved (education, finance, labour, gender, social welfare, etc.), commitment and action to eliminate child labour, etc. Making education a right should be dealt with in a legal framework, said Mr Satyarthi.

    The next meeting of the Group will take place next autumn.

    For more information on the two-day High-Level Group meeting

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