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Final Report of the Second Meeting, 2001

II. 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, EFA
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 Africa.

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 to subregion:

- 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 NGOs.

- 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 lead here.

- 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 context

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 problems.

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 processes

- 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 to quality

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 action:

- 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 to address:

At least 52 countries have a gender gap of 5 percentage points or more in enrolment data

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 up speed

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 countries.'

Other elements, which EFA plans must include if accelerated progress is to be achieved, are the following:

policy changes to address existing structural imbalances
well-defined financing 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 UIS
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 countries
- regional mechanisms do not include NGOs
- in Asia, some countries are only re-labelling existing plans
- 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 obtained?
- how can we ensure funding is shared between government and NGOs?
- what is the role of NGOs, e.g. in flagship programmes?
(Remarks from the Chair 10 Sept: Mr Kazi Rafiqul Alam, Dhaka Ahsania Mission)

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
Advocacy
National situation analysis
Capacity-building for sustainability

Content of plan
Measurable objectives
Indicators
Outcomes in phases
Activities
Implementation plan
Timeline
Country specific, prioritizing their goals
Financial plan

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 field offices.

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 educational reform.

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 them.

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 society

Capacity-building of civil society