Bulletin on EFA action worldwide No.44
Special Edition
Contents (22 July 2002)

    UNESCO Director-General opens third meeting of EFA Working Group

    Many governments are advancing in the planning and resourcing of EFA, although some have difficulty in meeting the December deadline for finalizing national EFA plans of action, said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today, when opening the third meeting of the Working Group on Education for All, in Paris.

    Mr Matsuura welcomed the progress made by the international community in putting mechanisms and resources into place and introduced the "International Strategy to put the Dakar Framework for Action on EFA into operation". The strategy, he said, provides a consensual framework for EFA partnerships, focusing in particular on how international agencies can best support country action.

    Mr Matsuura applauded the World Bank's fast-track initiative as well as the Monterrey and G-8 Summit pledges to financially support EFA.

    "The idea of a development compact is highly attractive and the broad emphasis on issues of good governance is welcome," Mr Matsuura said. He warned, however, that education may be held back through no direct fault on its own if the financial support is made dependent on the reform of an entire system of governance. "Perhaps it would be preferable for educational assistance to be linked only to the reform of the education system," he said.

    Mr Matsuura finally announced the new team that is working on the EFA Monitoring Report. It will be based in UNESCO, but will "enjoy the independence it needs to produce a rounded and objective report", he said.

    He also stressed the changing nature of the High-Level Group which, when it meets next time in November in Abuja, Nigeria, will be smaller, more outcome-oriented, more business-like and have a more focused agenda.

    This Working Group is composed of some forty persons representing the main stakeholders associated with the Dakar process: developing countries and countries in transition; bilateral, multilateral and regional agencies; civil society networks, NGOs and private foundations as well as the OECD. Chaired by the UNESCOAssistant Director-General for Education, John Daniel, its mandate is to provide guidance to the EFA movement, create new partnerships and ensure proper linkages among flagship programmes.

    The full text of Mr Matsuura's speech

    Country experiences in EFA planning

    To assess the experiences in planning and implementing EFA, two country presentations -- Burkina Faso and India -- focussed on key determining factors and challenges seen from the point of view of government, civil society and academia.

    Burkina Faso

    Burkina Faso's Ten-Year Education Plan, developed as part of a broader development initiative, focusses mainly on primary education, omitting some essential Dakar goals such as the expansion of early childhood education, peace and preventive HIV/AIDS education. Initially, civil society involvement in this plan was practically non-existent. In May 2002, an inter-ministerial EFA Committee was set up to incorporate the Dakar goals into the Plan. Civil society organizations (NGOs, trade unions and parent-teachers) are now involved. The plan has three phases :

    2001 to 2005 - expansion of basic education, focus on quality, community participation, elaboration of strategies and literacy campaigns.

    2005-2008 - further expansion of the formal system and the development of the non-formal sector;

    2008-2010 - the consolidation of the expansion, quality improvement and relevance, to reach 70 per cent enrolment and 40 per cent illiteracy rate by 2010.


    India's major policy initiative for EFA is the Constitutional Amendment passed by the Parliament last year proclaiming basic education as a fundamental human right. India's EFA national action plan will be ready by end 2002. NGOs are active at all levels. Major challenges facing the country today are: tackling early childhood education, illiteracy, quality, the financing of education and inter-state disparity: 75 per cent of out-of-school children can be found in 5 Indian states. A strong statement was made on the link between EFA and child labour.

    Response to country presentations

    In his response to the country presentations, John F. Morris, Principal Adviser on Education at the Canadian development agency, CIDA, pointed out the differences between Burkina Faso and India in almost all areas: GNP per capita, population, enrolment rates, etc. Both countries' approach to EFA is also contrasted, illustrating how the same goal can be tackled differently. Burkina Faso introduces the Dakar goals into the existing national education plan, while India develops a full fledged national EFA plan.

    In the realm of similarities, both countries have set up national EFA forums, have included primary education as a major component of their plans and addressed both gender goals: elimination of disparities by 2005 and gender equality by 2015. Both countries have also included the reduction of illiteracy.

    Early childhood education - the first Dakar - goal receives rather scant mention in both plans. More planning needs to be done in this area, said Mr Morris. He felt that confusion exists concerning the meaning of "care", "education" and "development" in relation to early childhood education.

    Civil society involvement in the development of the plans was a reality for both countries. However, confusion persists, said Mr Morris, between the notion of consultation and participation. "There is consultation in some cases, but not necessarily full participation," he said.

    Both countries showed their concern for educational outcomes and have done some work in this area. Mr Morris referred to the case of India, where disparities are great when data are disaggregated - by gender, urban/rural, regions and ethnic groups. Both countries have made efforts to use schools more effectively and have introduced alternative modes to increase supply.

    While efforts have been made in both countries to improve teacher training, little mention is made of the involvement of universities in this drive. Another major missing item in both cases was how they intend to tackle HIV/AIDS in the context of EFA.

    In the debate that ensued, Cream Wright of UNICEF, wondered how the successful NGO-government consultations of India and Burkina Faso could be introduced in other countries, where consultations are simply not taking place.

    The Asian/South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPAE) informed the meeting of its tracking operation in several Asian countries to evaluate the degree of civil-society involvement in national action plans. "A legimitate space for NGOs is far from secure", said Maria Lourdes Almazan-Khan, the ASPAE representative. Other participants referred to the need for NGOs to be proactive and not wait for government to move.

    On the issue of including working children, Geir Olav Myrstad of the International Labour Office, pointed out that working children are indeed the hardest group to integrate into the system. He was grateful, he said, that the G8 recognized that child labour had to be tackled in the context of EFA. He also stressed the need to address girls' education and work, pointing out that, unlike boys, girls' work is often hidden.

    In conclusion, focussing on universal primary education was, he said, "great but too narrow; we need to take secondary education and vocational skills into account."

    Fast-track only part of the picture

    The recently-launched Education for All Fast Track initiative to achieve quality universal primary education (UPE) by 2015 is only the first step in a process.
    "This is only part of the EFA picture and not a separate initiative," said Robert Prouty of the World Bank, when presenting it to the meeting. "Other levels must certainly be included and we hope for increased international support," he said.

    On the question of whether the goal of universal primary education by 2015 is achievable, Mr Prouty told participants that 89 countries would not get there if current efforts continued. The good news is, however, that more countries are giving priority to education and that there is an international willingness to help.

    Mr Prouty listed a set of criteria that are essential for achieving UPE. These include education spending of 20 percent of the total recurrent budget, primary education representing 50 per cent of the education budget and a pupil:teacher ratio of less than 40. He also listed the criteria for producing a credible plan including "a fair commitment of domestic resources" and action undertaken to "improve service delivery" - one example, that teachers' salaries are paid on time.

    The need for increased donor support was also mentioned. An estimated $2,5 billion a year is needed, he said. Sub-Saharan Africa represents the biggest challenge as international funding for primary education will have to increase by 700 per cent.

    So far, eighteen countries have been eligible for the Fast Track Initiative and another five will receive support to make them eligible for the initiative.

    In the ensuing debate Gregory Loos of USAID said that it has been an exceptional year for education, but insisted that success should not be for "donor darlings" only but also for countries getting ready to apply the readiness criteria.

    Louise Hilditch of the Global Campaign for Education welcomed the initiative as a first step in mobilizing more resources. "But we are still far short of what is needed," she said. She also expressed caution about the criteria and conditionalities of the initiative and the need for focusing on all the six EFA goals.

    More about the Fast Track initiative

    From strategy to synergy

    During the afternoon session, UNESCO presented the newly published “International Strategy to put the Dakar Framework for Action on Education for All into Operation” This Strategy lists the five major actions needed to achieve the EFA goals (planning; advocacy and communication; financing; monitoring and evaluation; and international and regional coordination mechanisms) and outlines how the international community can support the implementation of national EFA plans.

    “Although the focus seems to be on the six main Dakar goals, the twelve strategies of the Dakar Framework for Action are equally if not more important”, Abhimanyu Singh, Lead Manager of UNESCO's Dakar Follow-up Unit said. He also highlighted the inclusion of flagship programmes such as for HIV/AIDS, and said that these programmes should pool international knowledge and expertise in countries where they are most needed. “There is an urge to contribute to the implementation of EFA goals collectively and not individually”, he added.

    Clinton Robinson of UNESCO outlined the content of the Strategy and why it should not be seen as a repetition of the Dakar Framework for Action but rather as a complement to it. It maps EFA processes and mechanisms, focuses on support to the national level, the specific roles and responsibilities of the various development partners. "It's a living document that should be updated at least once a year so that it reflects and fosters collective ownership," Mr Robinson said. He hoped that the Strategy would be perceived as a reference document, always readily available to EFA actors.

    Several participants welcomed the strategy and expressed the need for stronger partnerships. Amina J. Ibrahim, national EFA Coordinator in Nigeria asked how the strategy would be monitored to assess its effectiveness.

    Lavinia Gasperini from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced a new flagship programme on the education of rural people, which will be launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August. "We must not forget that 70 per cent of the poor are found in rural areas," she said.

    All presentations at today's meeting are available on the EFA website

    Contact: Anne Muller (a.muller@unesco.org), Teresa Murtagh (t.murtagh@unesco.org) and Jewel Thomas (j.thomas@unesco.org)