|Dakar Follow-up Bulletin Board No 11|
(23 November 2000)
EFA efforts to development frameworks is key to success
National plans on Education for All (EFA) need to be placed
within wider development frameworks in order to meet the goals
of the Dakar Framework for Action. In a session on linking
EFA plans with sector strategies and development objectives
during the second day of the meeting of the Working Group
on EFA, participants stressed the need to integrate education
into major development initiatives. "The strategic framework
is our last chance," said one participant.
Maris O'Rourke of the World Bank presented on behalf of UNDP,
UNICEF and her own organization, a strategy for achieving
EFA. It seeks to integrate EFA efforts into existing development
frameworks and initiatives, such as the Poverty Reduction
Strategy Papers (PRSPs), the Highly Indebted Poor Countries
Initiative (HIPC), the Comprehensive Development Framework
and others. This involves developing a cross sectoral policy
framework, communication strategies, sharing good practices,
brokering financial deals, improving resource utilization,
capacity building and supporting appropriate use of debt relief.
Ms O’Rourke explained that if the international community
is to move ahead quickly on this basis, it must agree on a
set of principles, such as the criteria by which countries
become part of it and on what constitutes a national plan.
Other principles include resource mobilization, evaluation
The debate that followed focussed on such issues as the need
to involve the civil society in EFA action and the importance
for countries of having a sense of ownership for the initiative.
On this score, Jean-Bernard Thiant from France, said that
"we have a tendency to address the will of donors at the expense
of the countries", and Anil Bordia of India called for organizations
such as UNESCO, UNICEF and UNDP to help countries negotiate
better deals with donor agencies.
Seiji Kojima, the G8 representative, said that the leaders
of these eight countries attached great importance to the
level of ownership because, "we have less chance of success
if the civil society is not behind the process," he said.
A number of participants stressed the need for EFA national
plans to identify the reasons for past failure in reaching
their education goals, firstly for countries themselves and
secondly so that development agencies are better placed to
help them. Sheldon Shaeffer of UNICEF added that these national
plans should be costed and have time-bound strategies to remove
inequality, and be linked with other sectors.
Drawing up national action plans and the wide consultation
process that it implies could also be the opportunity to reflect
on the purpose of education and to reinvent strategies and
approaches as well as addressing the question of values.
The Working Group meeting that ends tomorrow is organized
just six months after the World Education Forum (Dakar, Senegal,
26-28 April 2000) and comprises key actors in the Education
for All movement, including representatives of governments,
regional bodies, bilateral and multilateral donor agencies
and non-governmental organizations. The meeting is expected
to further the Education for All process in the organizations
represented and help shape the agenda of the informal High-Level
Group to be convened by UNESCO's Director General in April
international financial support for basic education
Although the responsibility of financing education rests predominantly
with national governments, the international community has
a critical catalytic and supportive role to play in achieving
Education for All. This was one of the main conclusions of
a session on how to mobilize international financial support
for basic education including the characteristics of the global
EFA initiative, as foreseen in the Dakar Framework for Action.
"International financial resources are in short supply and
high demand," said Lene Buchert of UNESCO, who presented a
draft paper entitled Development Partner Co-operation in the
Support of Education for All: Rational and Strategies. "The
international community needs to think creatively in terms
of resource mobilization and to act with more urgency than
in the past," she said. UNESCO's paper constitutes one part
of the global initiative, which, in Ms Buchert's words, is
not only a finance initiative but a framework outlining how
to work together at all levels and facilitating governments'leadership
The paper outlines five main lines of action: Increasing external
funding for education, ensuring greater predictability in
the flow of external assistance, providing debt relief and/or
debt cancellation for poverty reduction and basic education,
facilitating more effective donor co-ordination and strengthening
Ms Buchert pointed to the decrease in international development
aid during the 1990s and reiterated the recent recommendation
by UNESCO's Director-General to bilateral donor agencies to
double their support for education to constitute a total of
$7 billion by 2005, $10.5 billion by 2010 and $14 billion
by 2015. "But this is only a complement to what countries
themselves have to invest in education," Ms Buchert said.
Today, external financing accounts for only 3 per cent of
education spending in developing countries.
In the discussion that ensued, recurring themes were the lack
of comprehensive frameworks and strategies in education in
many countries, the need for co-ordination, monitoring and
risk-taking and issues such as accountability and transparency.
"We need to agree on a certain number of elements to move
forward with funding," commented Jose-Javier Paniagua of the
European Commission, adding that education is now one of the
priorities on the Commission's funding agenda.
Steve Packer of the United Kingdom Department of International
Development stressed the importance of looking at the finance
systems at a whole. "The Dakar Framework for Action focuses
a great deal on external financing but many countries need
to reallocate resources within the national budget and within
the education budget itself," he said.
Gabriel Bayemi of the African Development Bank raised the
question of efficient use of resources and improved aid co-ordination
and mentioned that where the Bank previously had 'one client'
(the government), countries are now asked to consult with
civil society and other groups before they present new plans.
Marion Molteno of Save the Children Alliance cautioned participants
to make sure that external resources reach the right hands.
"We need to see how money is distributed within countries.
Does the amount of money correspond to the expectations at
the different levels?" she asked.
NGO representatives of the Global Campaign on Education yesterday
shared with participants a paper on their vision of a global
initiative whose central element would be information not
control of funds, as previously proposed by the Campaign.
Main features include the creation of an inventory or ledger
that would track each country's progress towards implementation
of a viable and participatory EFA plan, as well as identification
of resource gaps and existing and potential mechanisms for
data for better education
The question of monitoring Education for All goals and targets
was the theme before participants at this afternoon’s session.
A presentation on the newly-established EFA Observatory based
in the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) was made by Denise
Lievesley, its Director. While the need for regular monitoring
of education is widely accepted, the EFA 2000 exercise amply
demonstrated that assessments cannot be rushed through and
must be based on regular reporting systems, she explained.
The objective of the EFA Observatory is to collect, analyse
and disseminate regularly relevant information required by
all users -- countries, regions and those interested in international
monitoring -- and to help build sustainable national statistical
systems to do so. Assessment exercises are intended to assist
governments develop, review and amend policies so that their
EFA goals are reached as quickly as possible. They also provide
a tool for international monitoring.
In the aftermath of the Dakar Forum, the first step is to
evaluate existing indicators, not merely from a statistical
perspective but from a policy relevance standpoint. The Institute
is dependent on education experts to determine the relevance
for policy of indicators, Ms Lievesley explained. In the meantime
and to ensure that a solid benchmark for the year 2000 is
established, it has tried to anticipate some future needs
and to minimize data gaps by including a few new indicators
in the exercise known as Survey 2000.
Another focus of the Institute is striking a balance between
core data collection across all countries and subsets of data
of interest to specific regions or countries sharing similar
characteristics. Developing a strategy for policy purposes
and an early warning system to assist countries falling too
far behind is another aim.
UIS is not the only organization that produces statistics
and Ms Lievesley warmly invited organizations that are better
placed to collect some of the data to come on board. "We will
be looking for partnerships and organizations that want to
work in this area," she said, adding that financial co-operation
will also be important if the Institute is to carry out its
mandate effectively. Speaking from the chair, Emily Vargos-Baron
of USAID echoed her plea calling on all present to collaborate
Sheldon Shaeffer of UNICEF said that greater emphasis should
be placed on obtaining disaggregated data, saying that this
was one of the pluses of the EFA 2000 assessment which had
made a specific effort in this area.
Several participants stressed the difficulty of comparing
data on an international level, pointing out that educational
systems are not unified. Others were concerned about the target
audience, insisting that statistics addressed an elite and
a suggestion was made to avoid producing over-sophisticated
data that countries are unable to use. Richard Sack of the
Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA)
called for statistics to be taken away from the experts and
put into the general arena. He particularly called for more
“user-friendly” data for journalists.
Contact: Anne Muller (firstname.lastname@example.org)