Dakar Follow-up Bulletin Board No 12
Special issue

Contents (24 November 2000)

  • New climate of collaboration in Education for All

    New climate of collaboration in Education for All

    The follow-up to the World Education Forum (Dakar, Senegal, April 2000) received new inspiration at the first meeting of the Working Group on Education for All that ended today at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. An informal gathering of some forty key actors discussed over the last three days concrete steps towards meeting the challenge of EFA.

    "The EFA movement has taken a step forward," said Jacques Hallak, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Education a.i in his closing speech, referring to a variety of presentations made. He stressed that, despite the daunting new challenges facing the movement, including widespread conflicts, HIV/AIDS and increasing poverty, there is today a much more favourable political climate for furthering this agenda.

    "This debate has been an invaluable source of inspiration for UNESCO's work in the coming weeks and months," Mr Hallak told the participants representing constituencies such as governments, regional bodies, bilateral and multilateral donor agencies and non-governmental organizations.

    In today's closing session, three groups reported back on issues of primary importance to Dakar follow-up, which also occupied a large part of yesterday’s discussions. These were monitoring of EFA targets, planning to achieve these objectives and funding support.

    Suggestions from this reporting exercise and the discussions that followed were wide-ranging. Mr Hallak promised that participants' views and recommendation will now be put before UNESCO's Director-General for consideration, in view of the up-coming High-level Group meeting that he will convene in April 2001.

    An issue, that cropped up time and time again, was that of 'ownership' of the movement at all levels. In the case of Senegal, for example, the process underway is involving local plans on a school-by-school basis as well as local-level partners.

    The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) present voiced their interest in being involved in drawing up the national action plans. The People’s Action Forum in Zambia suggested that NGOs also have the opportunity of training in workshops organized by UNESCO's Institute for Statistics. Mr Hallak assured participants that the Institute would do everything to accommodate suggestions concerning the use of statistics in monitoring educational progress.

    He also said that the following areas would be part of UNESCO's follow-up activities in the coming months:
  • Examining in greater detail strategies for financing EFA including the establishment of mechanisms to ensure that national plans of action are backed by external technical and financial assistance.

  • Helping in organizing discussions between donor agencies to improve co-ordination of EFA efforts. Close collaboration with the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission will be sought.

  • Expanding the collaboration between United Nations agencies at international, regional and, in particular, national levels. Memorandums of understanding have already been signed between UNESCO and UNICEF in West and Central Africa and in Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, UNESCO is planning to provide technical assistance to some twenty-five least developed countries that do not have an EFA co-ordination mechanism, as well as for another group of countries on their request.

  • Improving the country guidelines for the preparation of national plans of action in order to make them more operational. Participants of the Working Group meeting were asked to submit proposals. Particular emphasis should be given to how to link national EFA action plans to flagship programmes on key issues in basic education.

  • Closely involving the private sector in EFA. A particular effort would be made in this regard at the High-level Group next year

  • Communications between all the actors in the movement is also vital to move forward quickly. "Bad news tends to travel quicker than good news," one participant said, adding that this tends to mask the successful activities and best practices going on all over the world. "We should look at these success stories and share them out among us for enlightenment," said Mr Hallak.

    A report on the Working Group meeting will be published in the first quarter of 2001. This Bulletin Board will continue to inform you regularly of activities, innovations and Dakar Follow-up Bulletin in the weeks and months ahead.

    Information Contact: Anne Muller (a.muller@unesco.org)