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
"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 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
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.
full text of Mr Matsuura's speech
Country experiences in
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'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.
- 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
Response to country
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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,
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
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.
presentations at today's meeting are available on the