Progress towards EFA plans
A central concern of the Working Group was to assess what
progress has been made in the past twelve months in the
development of national EFA plans, how regional efforts
have supported this process and what role international
agencies have played. This was set in the context of identifying
areas of need and problems to be addressed. The five UNESCO
regional offices, five countries, three multilateral agencies
and one bilateral agency made presentations as input into
the ensuing group work and discussion.
Progress at regional and subregional levels
Africa: working together for greater impact
A. Parsuramen, Director of the UNESCO Dakar office, reported
on progress towards the development of national EFA plans
in sub-Saharan Africa against the background of serious
problems facing the region. Gender disparities affecting
75% of the countries, crisis situations, armed conflicts
and the ravages of
HIV/AIDS are all undermining the development of education
in the region. An assessment of national EFA plan development
is being undertaken, along with workshops in management
and planning. Regional support has taken the shape of technical
assistance and fund-raising activities. At national level,
coordinators have been appointed in 45 countries (out of
46) and national forums are being established. Technical
and political bodies are envisaged at regional level as
part of a coherent approach to developing a regional EFA
action plan, to be ready for the Eighth Regional Conference
of Ministers of Education of African Member States (MINEDAF
VIII) in December 2002.
Countries are working towards to the 2002 deadline for completing
plans, with 1 country having finished its plan, 19 aiming
for July 2002 and the rest (26) aiming for September 2002.
Mr Parsuramen emphasized that EFA plans are being developed
in the context of existing education plans, where they are
available. He also reported on strengthening contacts with
NGOs. In conclusion, he stressed the central role of partnership
at every level and expressed the desire to see an EFA working
group and an EFA observatory established in sub-Saharan
Arab States: developing regional cooperation
The Director of the UNESCO Beirut office, V. Billeh, highlighted
the role of the recently formed regional network, ARABEFA.
This collaborative mechanism will facilitate the development
of national EFA plans, as well as undertaking capacity-building,
resource mobilization and advocacy. Based on a partnership
between international, regional and civil society organizations,
it has so far held two meetings to stimulate the development
of national plans. ARABEFA
conducted a survey in the region which indicated that 10
out of 21 countries have formed EFA forums. It further showed
that most Arab states started education reforms in the 1990s,
some of which will now be adapted to include EFA goals.
While it is clear that the EFA 2000 assessment improved
countries' information on educational difficulties and priorities,
there is a need to improve data collection, monitoring and
evaluation. The quality of education is now a key concern
in the region; past studies in monitoring learning achievement
have shown that children's basic learning needs are not
being adequately met. Some of these areas of concern will
be addressed through a series of workshops and through the
adoption in the region of four flagship programmes: girls'
education initiative, school health (FRESH), early childhood
(ECCE), management information and decision support (EMIS/EDSS).
In conclusion, Mr Billeh noted a number of constraints:
low level of participation in ARABEFA on the part of some
regional partners, a staff of only one in the ARABEFA office
and inadequate funding.
Asia and the Pacific: ready for action, but
A key strategy in this huge region is the development of
subregional mechanisms for EFA follow-up. Sheldon Shaeffer,
Director of UNESCO's Bangkok office, noted progress in setting
up subregional forums, coordinated by UNESCO cluster offices:
- formal and functioning in Southeast/East Asia (Bangkok)
- planned but not yet functioning in South Asia
- more informal mechanisms functioning in Central Asia (Almaty)
and the Pacific (Apia)
- not functioning in West Asia
In terms of progress towards
developing national EFA plans, the situation varies according
- South Asia: draft national plans in most countries, but
often with inadequate NGO involvement or active participation
of EFA partners
- Central Asia/Caucasus: EFA roundtables have been held
in most countries, in close collaboration with UNICEF and
- Pacific: 13 countries have completed national plans, facilitated
by a strong sense of regional cooperation. The involvement
of the full range of EFA partners has not been adequate.
However, governments are now awaiting the support promised
at Dakar to begin implementing EFA plans.
- Southeast/East Asia: planning mechanisms are in place
in most countries, though without strong civil society involvement.
Many countries have existing plans for basic education,
which they are now refining, including, in some countries,
strong linkages with sector-wide plans.
Having noted that NGO and civil society involvement is patchy
across the region, Mr Shaeffer remarked that civil society
organizations and NGOs themselves increasingly desire to
be involved. Some subregions are looking not only at primary
education, but also at ECCD and non-formal education. In
closing, he stressed the need for mechanisms and criteria
to be put in place so that national plans can be assessed
with a view to increased funding.
Europe: national and regional initiatives
The UNESCO Regional Education Adviser for Europe, Mr A.
Sannikov, noted that there is broad cooperation in the European
region with other bodies, such as the UNESCO institutes,
the Council of Europe, OECD, EU, United Nations agencies
and other IGOs and NGOs. Three European subregions, i.e.
the South-East Europe (SEE), the Baltic States and the Caucasus,
have been focus of EFA activity since Dakar:
- SEE: assistance was given to the Republic of Moldova in
view of the preparation of an EFA plan, with a roundtable
planned for December 2001. Discussions have been initiated
in Serbia to move towards a national EFA forum and begin
the EFA planning process. The UNICEF office will take the
- Baltic States: Lithuania has established a national EFA
forum and is moving towards completing a national plan by
the 2002 deadline. A subregional EFA meeting will be organized
in January 2002 to move towards the creation of a subregional
forum. Cooperation between the Baltic and Nordic states
is being promoted.
- Caucasus: Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan have recommended
the creation of a subregional EFA forum.
Other initiatives include discussions between the government
of the Russian Federation and UNESCO-Moscow on including
EFA in education modernization plans, a Nordic conference
looking at the role of UNESCO national commissions, and
a series of planned EFA seminars in the United Kingdom.
Latin America and the Caribbean: connecting with the
Ms A. L. Machado, Director of UNESCO's Santiago office,
reported that most Latin American countries already have
their own education plans, often based on reforms undertaken
during the 1990s. Thus, interest in developing specific
EFA plans is very varied across the region - in some places
Dakar follow-up is perceived as one of a number of competing
international programmes. A strategic approach would call
for integration of Dakar goals into existing region-specific
frameworks, with UNESCO offices playing an advocacy role
with governments. At a regional inter-agency coordination
meeting in February 2001 agreement was reached on EFA coordination
mechanisms; these include an EFA theme group among United
Nations agencies in each country, three kinds of
EFA kits for the public, politicians and technical staff,
meetings between ministers and the World Bank to advocate
for EFA funding, and a web-site.
Cooperation with civil society and NGOs was made more concrete
through the first Latin American CCNGO (Collective Consultation
of NGOs) meeting in August 2001, from which a strengthening
of civil society and NGO participation in EFA planning should
result. An earlier meeting, the Seventh Intergovernmental
Regional Committee for the Major Project in the Field of
Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (PROMEDLAC
VII - March 2001) issued the Cochabamba Declaration which
called for, inter alia, effective national EFA forums and
an ambitious 15-year project, organized with UNESCO, whose
purpose is to 'obtain changes in education in order to make
possible lifelong quality learning for all.' Vice-Ministers
of Education together with regional UNESCO education specialists
will examine it in November 2001.
Strengthening national plans according to the Dakar guidelines
One country from each region presented the current state
of progress of EFA national planning and implementation.
Costa Rica: from access to quality
Ms E. Paniagua, Director General of the St Clare Education
System, presented the educational situation in Costa Rica
in the context of overall development. Access to the first
year of schooling is close to 100%, but nearly one-third
of students drop out of education by third cycle (junior
high school). This is currently one of the most urgent problems.
Increasing access was
not accompanied by attention to quality - this now places
restrictions of people's possibilities of social achievement
and mobility. Almost a quarter of the population lives in
poverty. A further pressure on the education system is the
number of immigrants.
Since 1992 education has received almost 25% of the government
budget - 6% of GNP by law since 1997. A number of new programmes
have been eveloped - in English teaching at primary level,
use of ICTs, increasing teachers in rural areas and raising
quality in urban priority schools. Costa Rica is working
towards the Dakar goals, but within the framework of a national
public policy system established 50 years ago. The current
issues to tackle are: drop-out, relevant model for secondary
school, quality services in areas of poverty and increasing
the educational level of immigrants. A national EFA plan
would help in setting a clear course towards solving these
Jordan: learning as you go
Outlining elements of the EFA planning process, Mr Tayseer
Al-Nahar, Vice-President of the National Centre for Human
Resources Development, focused on seven lessons which Jordan
learnt through EFA 2000 Assessment process:
- national plans were considered secondary and as a fulfilment
to international commitment
- if prepared, plans
were not integrated within the normal planning and budgeting
- plans were prepared by ad hoc committees with little policy
influence and professional expertise
- the focus was on goals (unrealistic) with little attention
to feasible and affordable measures to achieve these goals
- adopted methodologies and measures were largely unrelated
to national sector reality
- basic education sector was treated in isolation and plans
were not linked to national socio-economic development strategies
- EFA work did not create national capacity in sector analysis,
planning and implementation.
In recommending measures to correct these imbalances, Mr
Al-Nahar reported that a national EFA platform exists with
the participation of all stakeholders including civil society.
Sub-committees will work on each of the six Dakar goals.
Lithuania: what it's all about
Lithuania faces the double challenge of re-entry into the
world community as an independent state and of moving positively
forward into the new landscape of the twenty-first century
- this is the context in which Ms V. Vébraité,
Vice-Minister of Education and Science, set her presentation.
Through the Dakar process the country has re-discovered
the importance of quality basic education - this differs
from the orientation of the education system hitherto, which
aimed rather to feed the higher education institutions.
After outlining Lithuania's process of reflection and self-questioning
with regard to the purpose of education in today's world,
Ms Vébraité went on to explain the EFA mechanisms
that are being put in place.
The proposed new education law in Lithuania states that
the purpose of basic education is: '
to lay the foundations
for personal, social, cultural and civic maturity, to foster
the skills for independent learning, choice and decision-making,
to assure the basics of literacy.'
The new education law (see box) will set the scene for increased
emphasis on the quality of basic education and the preparation
of students as active citizens in a democratic society.
A national EFA plan is essential to bring all the strands
together, and in that perspective a national EFA forum has
been established, with wide-ranging participation. Lithuania
is working towards sharing its experience and learning from
others in the Baltic Sea region.
Philippines: moving to square two
The presentation made by Mr Ramon Bacani, Under-Secretary
of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports, recalled
that the Philippines had undertaken the assessment of their
previous 10-year EFA plan (1991-2000) as part of the Dakar
process. The implementation of that plan had brought together
a wide range of actors in partnership. The assessment showed
that access to schooling had increased and that there was
a high basic literacy rate. It also revealed concerns about
the levels of use of literacy and 'low levels of internal
efficiency and learning outcomes.' The current EFA planning
process will benefit from those lessons, and aim to sustain
gains and expand the impact of EFA. Planning for basic education
will take place in cooperation with departments for secondary
and higher education, in a sector-wide approach.
Particular emphasis has been placed on civil society participation.
An EFA Civil Society Forum has been formed by NGOs in basic
education, as a way of assessing their own impact and as
a platform for dialogue with government. The report notes
that cooperation with civil society was not sustained at
the implementation stage under the previous plan and that
steps to correct this will be taken, by ensuring that cooperation
is institutionalized at the local level. EFA planning will
take place in the context of the Philippines' overall development
plan and will draw in experts from other disciplines since
'it solicits insights from economics, social, political
as well as environmental disciplines.'
Uganda: getting it together
Mr Albert Byamugisha, Assistant
Commissioner for Education, reported on the institutional
arrangements and implementation of the EFA planning process.
In Uganda a task force of 5-10 members has been set up for
each of the Dakar goals, meeting twice a month. The chairs
of these groups form a coordination group which reports
to a national consultative EFA forum. The Ministry of Education,
other ministries, civil society and funding partners are
members of the forum.
An education plan up to 2003
already exists and has universal primary education as its
priority. Within this, setting priorities and determining
needs go along with a sequenced work programme. Early childhood
education and adult literacy do not fall under the responsibility
of the Ministry of Education and have not received as much
attention as a result. The ministries responsible for those
areas are now part of the consultative mechanism. Assessment
of progress towards the 2015 goals should be integrated
into a sector-wide approach.
ILO: teachers - critical
ILO's Senior Specialist
for Education, Mr Bill Ratteree, spoke about the potential
of a flagship programme on teachers and the quality of education,
following up on the introduction of this idea at the first
Working Group meeting in November 2000. It had been proposed
by Education International in consultation with UNESCO and
UNICEF. He identified two areas requiring reflection and
- first, measures to ensure
that the processes of recruiting, training, paying and placing
teachers are sufficient to promote quality teaching;
- second, ensuring the full involvement of teachers and
their organizations in educational planning, including the
development of national EFA plans.
On the first point, the Dakar Framework spells out the critical
role of teachers in the quality of basic education. Alongside
the issues of equitable placement and mobility, and of payment,
Mr Ratteree emphasized the need for lifelong professional
development. International agreements could provide a checklist
of standards against which to measure national performance.
The impact of HIV/AIDS on teachers needs factoring in also.
On the second point, teachers
will only have full ownership of EFA national plans if they
and their unions are fully involved in their formulation.
Thus appropriate national, district and even school-based
mechanisms must be put in place, drawing on best practice
around the world.
Two other issues need stressing:
addressing HIV/AIDS in education should make use of the
ILO's Code of practice on HIV/AIDS in the Workplace; also,
partnership should be developed between EFA planning groups
and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child
Labour, to promote the integration into education of children
currently in work.
UNICEF: priority to girls
Mary Joy Pigozzi, currently
in charge of UNICEF's education sector, presented the United
Nations Girls' Education Initiative (UNGEI) as a partnership
with common goals and objectives. The partnership aims to
ensure that the 2005 Dakar goal of gender parity in education
is met - this is very close and there are still many challenges
At least 52 countries have
a gender gap of 5 percentage points or more in enrolment
47 of these countries have
gender gaps negatively affecting girls Sub-Saharan Africa
is particularly affected by gender gaps in enrolment
Ms Pigozzi linked these challenges
with the need to include action on gender issues in national
EFA plans - it is not enough merely to refer to gender,
serious and committed action is now required, based on adequate
gender analysis. In particular she called for affirmative
actions with an awareness of the high numbers of out-of-school
girls, the ever-present threat of HIV/AIDS and crisis situations.
UNGEI is a mobilizing force which aims to mainstream gender
issues throughout the education system. Egypt, Nigeria,
Uganda and Pakistan are moving forward with specific plans
to increase girls' enrolment. Ms Pigozzi concluded with
a call to advocate for EFA and the gender targets, and to
'walk the talk'.
USAID: tackling the impact
of HIV/AIDS on EFA
On the principle that global
issues demand global responses, Mr Donald Mackenzie, Acting
Deputy Administrator of USAID, addressed the issue of the
impact of HIV/AIDS on EFA. Describing the ravages of AIDS
as a 'slow-motion nightmare', particularly in Africa, he
noted that deaths are beginning to hollow out institutions,
including education systems. Zambia is already at a point
where teacher losses due to AIDS are outstripping the rate
of training and replacement. Education can be a powerful
weapon in HIV/AIDS prevention and so this must be a component
of national EFA plans, across the world. In every situation
it is crucial to address HIV/AIDS before it reaches the
critical threshold of 5% of the population. Many other sectors
besides education also suffer and so only a multi-sectoral
approach will be able to tackle the problem.
Two ideas from USAID:
'why not think of linking
every single education institution, classroom, parent-teacher
group and teacher in need and under threat with a similar
support from both the north and the south?'
'we are in uncharted territory
but working together, perhaps through empowered EFA task
groups in areas such as fund-raising, teaching methodologies,
information technology and creating new partnerships, we
can achieve the important goals agreed upon at Dakar.'
Mr Mackenzie asked if current
EFA plans factor in the increased cost of education because
of HIV/AIDS and was concerned that economic forecasts fell
woefully short of the real costs involved. Tackling the
challenge of EFA in the light of HIV/AIDS requires fresh
thinking - 'business unusual'.
World Bank: building
Recognizing the heightened
commitment to education on the part of the international
community, Ms Claudia von Montbart, Senior Counsellor for
External Affairs at the World Bank, stressed the need for
accelerated progress towards EFA. As well as increasing
access to education, attention must be given to quality
which 'matters more in boosting economic growth'. Thus primary
school completion rates rather than gross enrolment should
be used as a measure of effectiveness in EFA.
'Universal primary completion,
no matter how challenging the goal, is only a modest step
towards the ultimate goal of lifelong learning for all citizens,
which is as relevant for the low-income world as for OECD
Other elements, which EFA
plans must include if accelerated progress is to be achieved,
are the following:
policy changes to address
existing structural imbalances
needs, established through country-by- country analysis,
including tracking of expenditures from debt relief
sharing what works
and what doesn't with countries most in need
improving the quality
of data available for decision-making, in cooperation with
using education to
fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic and its threat to EFA goals
The World Bank intends
to work with its partners in the coming months to develop
a firm and coherent framework for addressing these issues.
Reactions and recommendations
Following these presentations
on progress in different geographical and institutional
contexts, participants brought into the discussion their
questions, perceptions and opinions on specific matters
as well as on matters of more general import.
Regarding the Africa region,
more information was requested on the EFA survey sent out
by UNESCO Dakar: was this directed to all countries, or
only to some? While this particular survey was adapted for
use in Africa, a wider survey is being prepared for all
countries. The North has its own EFA problems which also
need survey and analysis.
With specific reference to
the Uganda report, a concern was expressed that there could
be some overlapping in the use of debt swap funding: how
could it be ensured that funds are channelled to education?
This problem is obviated by holding inter-sectoral consultations
and the ear-marking of funds. In the case of Uganda, monitoring
and planning processes were linked - not always the case
in national EFA planning.
The disability dimension
needs much greater integration into the EFA debate. The
disabled are one of the largest minorities in the world,
estimated at 600 million, and are often overlooked in the
development agenda - whether through detachment, discouragement
or fear. Within the Dakar Framework the establishment of
a flagship programme on disability would recognize the increasing
donor interest and commitment to placing disability issues
squarely on the development agenda. Such a flagship would
advance inclusive education as a primary approach, within
the Dakar goals, of reaching children, youth and adults
with disabilities. This suggestion was taken up by the Working
Group with the recommendation that a flagship programme
on disability should be set up.
In response to the ILO presentation,
participants reinforced the essential role of teachers in
ensuring quality. Emphasis must be placed on social dialogue
- ILO can give assistance on how to do this and what sustainable
mechanisms are required. Given the need for more teachers
in many parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa,
we need to look at innovative ways of recruiting and training
them. In addition to the negative effects of HIV/AIDS on
teacher 12 numbers, conflict and ageing will have an increased
impact. Where teachers' unions are fragile, as in parts
of sub-Saharan Africa, there is a need to build capacity,
for example in tackling HIV/AIDS issues - it will be counterproductive
to channel resources through teachers' organizations if
the capacity is not being developed to handle such programmes.
A participant noted that teachers' unions often work for
improved teacher conditions, but do not equally promote
professional development. In response, the point was made
that unions should be promoting both teachers' rights and
their responsibilities, for instance in improving professional
practice. Quality training for teachers will be ineffective
unless there is also training for education support staff
and administrators. There was agreement that a new flagship
programme on 'teachers and quality' should be launched
. …from an NGO perspective:
- civil society is not involved in EFA partnerships in many
- regional mechanisms do not include NGOs
- in Asia, some countries are only re-labelling existing
- what is the best way to support the national structures?
- real data on what is actually happening are essential
- where governments change, how can fresh commitment be
- how can we ensure funding is shared between government
- what is the role of NGOs, e.g. in flagship programmes?
(Remarks from the Chair 10 Sept: Mr Kazi Rafiqul Alam, Dhaka
A number of participants
emphasized the essential role of civil society in EFA and
the need actively to promote engagement in the planning
process. Some contexts demonstrate reluctance to do so and
need encouragement. Civil society organizations are often
the best vehicles to bring education to those outside the
system, using non-formal approaches. In response to a comment
that civil society participation in flagship programmes
should receive special attention, it was noted that this
is frequently already the case at national level. It is
also crucial that civil society is adequately represented
in the high-level group. A participant asked why there had
been no presentation of the CCNGO meeting in Bangkok (July
2001) to the working group.
Most comments were reserved
for the assessment process for national EFA plans. It was
regretted that the recommendation of the first Working Group
had not been implemented on making operational guidelines
available. Clear criteria must be rapidly drawn up so that
plans can be recognized as credible and then provided with
the necessary external funding. In discussion, a number
of elements were suggested as essential parts of an EFA
plan, as criteria against which plans might be assessed:
HIV/AIDS issues, gender dimension, national ownership, addressing
national priorities and realities, realistic goals, monitoring
component with agreed indicators, detailed targets for enrolment
and teacher needs, etc., flexibility to incorporate subsequent
changes and institutionalized mechanisms. These suggestions
fed into the recommendations below, developed in the thematic
group. Full national ownership of EFA plans, elaborated
using participatory processes, was emphasized, along with
repeated calls for inclusion of early childhood education,
adult education and lifelong learning.
It was stressed once again
that early childhood care and development (ECCD) is often
under-funded by governments, with too much emphasis on schooling,
not on home and community. Much ECCD is delivered by civil
society and needs better integration. Work with the under-3's
is almost invisible and the impact of HIV/AIDS on under-5's
is neglected. The problem of children affected by violence
is also often overlooked. Participants felt that there is
an absence of the totality of education from early childhood
to adult education - the lifelong learning perspective of
the expanded vision of education from Jomtien must be kept
firmly and centrally in view.
There was broad-based re-affirmation
in the Working Group that national EFA plans should be integrated
into poverty reduction and the wider development agenda,
based on a strong commitment to partnership approaches.
These partnerships need developing also at local (sub-national)
level, as part of a focus on decentralisation and the processes
of governance which best promote EFA.
Given the complexity of the
problems and challenges associated with implementing EFA,
any list of criteria must be used with flexibility and openness.
UNESCO should take responsibility for drawing up a list
of the ingredients of what makes a credible plan. Any plan
must take a coordinated approach, with assured financing
over the whole period; it is useless to take a 'bits and
pieces' approach which is dependent on the vagaries of national
annual budget processes.
Following the plenary discussion
the topic of formulating, assessing and funding national
EFA plans was taken up by a thematic group. Their conclusions
are presented below.
In formulating national EFA plans process and content are
equally important, with the following elements:
Process of planning
Involvement of all stakeholders
National situation analysis
Capacity-building for sustainability
Content of plan
Outcomes in phases
Country specific, prioritizing their goals
Within these broad parameters,
the formulation of national EFA plans should be based on
the following considerations:
Plans should be based on
what already exists at country level and be coherent with
broader initiatives such as SWAP or PRSPs.
It is crucial that all EFA partners agree that EFA is a
collective product, not just UNESCO's. This should be communicated
to heads of agencies and to donors and be passed on to their
Countries need to be convinced
that donors and international organizations are all stakeholders
in the EFA effort in order to facilitate teamwork and to
make sure that the plans are reviewed with the country.
The support team to the country
should formulate a mechanism for action.
Teachers should be involved
in the development of the plan. This is based on the ILO/UNESCO
recommendation concerning the status of teachers which states
that teachers must participate and be consulted in any major
The importance of UNESCO's
action in capacity-building of civil society should be re-emphasized.
Undertakings such as the Bamako UNESCO/World Bank initiative
and the Collective Consultation of NGOs on EFA are good
initiatives which help stakeholders at national level and
should be commended.
Concerning the assessment and funding of national plans,
the thematic group made the following recommendations:
By the end of the year a
mechanism should be in place, including all partners, to
review their plans as they are being drafted. The plan could
be submitted to a subregional mechanism of peers. This subregional
mechanism will provide recommendations and comments that
would go back to the countries. Certain donors who receive
these 'vetted' plans may feel more comfortable with funding
UNESCO should draw up a
listing of criteria for 'credible' EFA plans and circulate
it to field offices and national commissions after consulting
with its partners.
The high-level group should develop a strategy to make available
funds for countries which are in great need, but which are
not 'popular' or are politically difficult for donors. A
mechanism needs to be set up now to help these countries;
it is critical to talk about funding now.
Recognition and strengthening of the role of civil society:
Official sign off by civil society organizations of plans
(if this is politically acceptable)
Channelling of funds through existing initiatives of civil
Capacity-building of civil society