Bulletin on EFA action worldwide No.45
Special Edition
Contents (23 July 2002)

    Annual Monitoring Report on EFA

    The outline of the Global Monitoring Report 2002 was tabled on the second and final day of the third meeting of the Working Group on EFA. Christopher Colclough, its editor, reminded the meeting of the aim of the report --- broadly to monitor national educational policies and processes, and international commitment. In particular, it will track progress, map trends, identify reforms and political commitment, challenges and constraints.

    Presented in five chapters -- progress, planning, financing, meeting international commitments, and prospects and opportunities -- the report will provide basic information on key legislation and policies, planning and budget modalities. It will identify at-risk countries (HIV/AIDS, conflicts) and analyse the progress of some 35 to 40 nations making clear progress, in order, said Colclough, "to get a good flavour of what is going on in the planning at national level".

    In the financing chapter, the report will assess the funding needed to achieve EFA and signal the need for further work on costing. "The needed resources are within our grasp," said Colclough, referring to the pledges made at Monterrey and the G8 earlier this year.

    All the six Dakar goals will be covered by this year's report and the data will come from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) as well as from other sources, explained Simon Ellis of the UIS.

    In the ensuing debate, Louise Hilditch of the Global Campaign for Education found no specific reference to donor coordination in the report outline. She underlined that "it would be good to hold the bilaterals to account on their progress," suggesting that non-coordination by donors at the country level could also be quantified.

    Reassuring participants on the wide range of data that would be drawn upon for the report, Mr Colclough agreed that some "tensions" existed between the use of administrative data which have a time-lag and more up-to-date survey data but, he said, "they are not in competition, they are complementary." He welcomed a suggestion from the floor that participants might provide more detailed comments in writing.

    Monitoring Report draft outline

    High-Level Group meeting in Abuja, Nigeria (19-20 November)

    The linkages between the Working Group on EFA and the High-Level Group will be strengthened this year, said Abhimanyu Singh, Lead Manager of UNESCO's Dakar Follow-up Unit, when presenting the nature and role of the second meeting of the High-Level Group, to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 19 to 20 November.

    First of all, he said, there is a clear link between the agenda of the two meetings focusing on the five priority areas outlined in the newly-published International Strategy (see yesterday's bulletin): planning; advocacy and communication; financing; monitoring and evaluation; and international and regional coordination mechanisms.

    Second, a small group of "sherpas" will function as a bridge between the Working Group and the High-Level Group and will draft the communiqué to be adapted at Abuja. The group will comprise three multilateral agencies (UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank) and three country representatives from Nigeria (host country), Canada (G-8 host) and Norway (donor agency).

    Mr Singh stressed that this gathering will be more outcome-oriented and more focused than the previous one.

    As an immediate follow-up, a donors' group meeting will take place in Brussels on 27 November. Convened by UNESCO and the World Bank, it will be chaired by Canada, co-chaired by the Netherlands and hosted by the European Commission.

    In the ensuing debate, several participants highlighted the need for the High-Level Group meeting to take a problem-solving approach rather than function as an information-sharing mechanism. The need for involving finance and development ministers was also stressed as well as the importance of ensuring gender balance in the Group.

    Reports on the four break-away groups

    Sustaining political commitment
    Planning and implementing EFA
    Financing EFA
    Bridging the data gap

    Sustaining political commitment

    This Group looked at the obstacles at national level to increasing political commitment and the role of advocacy and communication in enhancing political will. They agreed that an important step was to involve civil society at the highest level. Teachers and parents must be involved in the EFA process to encourage ministry officials to sustain the commitment over time and for strategies to succeed. Participants reported on difficulties of coordinating between the various ministries involved in education.

    Assessing the relevance of existing and possible other advocacy tools, participants reported on positive experiences where the media have carried education stories. During EFA Week in Nigeria, for example, the six EFA goals were published in newspapers in local languages.

    Participants stressed the importance of tailoring the EFA messages to different target audiences, the need for the right "packaging" (different messages to different audiences) and the development of advocacy tools to reach those unreached by current instruments (e.g. people without access to the Internet, the disabled, the still "unconverted" to EFA). Other speakers stressed the need for tapping the knowledge and experience of the disabled community. Awareness raising in donor countries, where EFA knowledge is low among the general public, was strongly recommended. One positive experience is the recent mobilization of parliamentarians in Africa.

    Participants suggested that inspiration be found in successful publicity campaigns such as that of the Rights of the Child. Actions could include posters for schools, bookmarks with the EFA logo, etc.

    Finally the Group proposed that the current EFA website should include sections targeting researchers, teachers, students and the media.

    Full presentation

    Planning and implementing EFA

    "Accompanying" countries was the term this Group chose to qualify the international agencies' role in supporting national planning and ensuring that countries have full ownership of the process. Where planning is concerned, the international agencies should, the Group agreed, support innovation, decentralized planning, South-South experience-sharing, and be more transparent as to their own roles.

    When it came to implementation, the Group proposed supporting a "quality process", the principle of flexibility and acceptance of shared responsibility for success or failure. Capacity-building for leadership at community level and partnerships with academia and the private sector were other areas cited. Finally, the Group recommended that the Fast Track Initiative for funding EFA should pay more attention to partnerships, consultation, flexibility and be process driven.

    Full report

    Financing EFA

    This Group recognized that funding for EFA is high on the donor agencies' agendas and that multiple mechanisms and development approaches already exist, such as SWAPS, PRSPs and others. Though the share of external resources to education budgets is relatively small, it is vital for catalyzing EFA action, the Group said. For effective implementation of the Fast Track Initiative, the Group recommended the establishment of a specific financial framework under which countries would have "real ownership" of the process, and leadership in planning, monitoring and evaluation. Civil society-donor partnerships were recommended and donors were invited to harmonize their procedures and adopt a code of conduct.

    The Group suggested that as far as possible external assistance be directed to the school level. Further in-country funding could be mobilized, they suggested, by improving efficiency in the use of national resources and involving the private sector.

    The need to build and sustain the national institutional framework to utilize funds more efficiently was stressed. Capacity building efforts, the Group agreed, should reach national, regional and school levels, as well as civil society. Relevant data should be available to inform policy, planning and implementation. The group suggested, for immediate action, the improvement of national accountability and more equitable distribution of wealth.

    Full presentation

    Bridging the data gap

    According to this Group, the main purposes of data collection in EFA is to assist national policy making and assessment of progress towards the Dakar goals. This often creates tension between building sustainable data collection systems in countries and providing timely data internationally.

    Participants suggested that a set of some 5-6 core indicators should be agreed upon and used by all EFA partners, although the Group noted that this may only provide a partial picture of education systems.

    The Group also noted that data collection is expensive and felt that donors should provide funding for this. One suggestion was that Fast Track funds should be used for this purpose. Participants also underlined the need for better use of existing data by, for example, combining administrative data with survey data.

    The Group also encouraged the establishment of independent verification mechanisms at the national level, which could be done by education-specific or general statistical bodies.

    Finally, participants stressed the need to get richer data to complete core indicators in some countries and the use of more innovative approaches to obtain information on such issues as gender and HIV/AIDS.

    Full presentation

    Concluding remarks

    John Daniel, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Education, said in his concluding remarks that he experienced "an enormous change" in the style of the Working Group. "Compared to last year's meeting, there is a higher degree of engagement and a real wish to work in a collaborative spirit," he said.

    He specifically highlighted the encouraging progress in civil society involvement and the Fast-Track initiative, which will be one of the pillars of the EFA movement. "The big challenge in the coming year will be to give shape to the Fast-Track initiative," he 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)