Presentation of a comprehensive EFA strategy consisted of
'Towards a Global EFA Strategy', presented by Mark Richmond
an update on the global initiative by Lene Buchert of UNESCO
Although the paper used the terms 'global strategy' it was
agreed in the debate to use the terms 'comprehensive strategy'
in order to avoid the sense that a strategy is being planned
globally into which regional and national plans would have
to fit. It is rather the other way round. Further comments
on the terminology were made during the group work (see
Towards a comprehensive EFA strategy
Mark Richmond explained that the rationale for a comprehensive
EFA strategy 'rests on the argument that a global strategic
framework for EFA will serve to enhance the coordination,
relevance, and effectiveness of multi-partner action at
all levels'. Such a strategy must offer an operational framework
which is concrete, goal-oriented, problem-oriented and time-bound,
and which provides a clear view of where, how and when the
EFA partners can best make their
respective contributions. Mr Richmond proposed five key
objective requirements of the global EFA process:
Drive: particularly political will and consensus at the
Coherence: parts fitting together in a unified whole; reconciliation
of agendas and interests, not competition.
Knowledge: whose knowledge in EFA processes? Includes both
knowledge-building and knowledge-sharing.
Resources: the global initiative looks at human and organizational
as well as financial resources.
Implementation: putting policy into practice, empowering
stakeholders, finding new modalities of delivery.
In submitting the paper to the appreciation of the Working
Group, Mr Richmond noted that 'the way a [comprehensive]
strategy is developed will largely determine its acceptability
to the EFA movement' and asked that the group make recommendations
about a process of consultation.
Update on the global initiative
Work on the global initiative has moved forward over the
past year with consultations with a number of stakeholders,
including civil society and donors. Lene Buchert's presentation
reflected this move towards a common understanding of the
initiative, and she asked the Working Group to consider
whether the initiative should specify financial targets
and mechanisms, and to agree on the next steps within the
context of a comprehensive EFA strategy. Ms Buchert outlined
six areas of interpretation of the global initiative, agreed
in recent consultations:
national governments and international agencies are partners
it is more than a financial mechanism, it is a means to
achieve poverty reduction, wider development and an enabling
environment in which education has a key role
it includes financial, human and material support, and human
and institutional capacity-building
it depends on an enabling macro-economic and political environment
political will in North and South is crucial
since it is broader than merely financing, it connects with
other dimensions - monitoring, coordination, knowledge-creation,
In terms of financing EFA, Ms Buchert recalled the 0.7%
of GNP official development assistance target and the 20:20
proposal for budget and aid allocation agreed at the World
Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995), appealing
for the international community to take them seriously.
She also called for better targeting of aid to the
poorest countries and to sub-Saharan
Africa. International aid flows need to serve as a catalyst
to national resource mobilization. Monitoring and scrutiny
of financial commitments to education must be part of the
picture at national and international levels. She made recommendations:
to strengthen private financing
to increase grant aid
to develop the potential of debt swaps
to define criteria for inclusion rather than exclusion in
to engage civil society more, based on decentralized approaches
to identify the impacts of globalization on EFA
to look at the question of a global fund for EFA
Ms Buchert concluded
by asking three questions:
how should the global initiative be operated in practical
terms - financial mechanisms, global fund, specified targets,
eligibility criteria, etc.?
how can the global initiative be better linked with discussions
on financing growth and development?
what should be the respective role of UNESCO and other partners
in advocacy, securing funds, information clearing-house?
Reactions and recommendations
The plenary discussion focused on the comprehensive strategy,
and participants asked hard questions: was it necessary? Does
it put adequate focus on countries and the national level?
Does it reflect a partnership approach? As the Working Group
mulled over these questions, participants first expressed
concern that a comprehensive strategy must reflect the diversity
of partners and promote real partnership. It is a great challenge
to involve all partners in the drafting of the EFA comprehensive
strategy and therefore effective collaboration among partners
is vital. Because of the crucial need to ensure country-level
leadership in strategy development and implementation, efforts
need to be devoted to maximizing linkages between international
discussions and national ownership.
The United Nations Girls' Education Initiative and FRESH were
cited as examples of the kind of interagency partnerships
that work well. In addition, the role of regional institutions,
in particular regional banks, should not be neglected, especially
since similar mechanisms exist already, e.g. policy groups,
The comprehensive strategy document clearly points to interdependence
between institutions and between sectors if EFA is to be implemented.
The ADG/ED commented on why development of this strategy had
not happened earlier and pointed out that the initial expectation
was that EFA strategy globally would be the sum of the national
action plans; however, the whole is greater than the parts
and the need for over-arching strategies is now clearly evident.
The issue of a comprehensive strategy was taken up in group
work with the aim of arriving at a proposal for further development.
Having questioned the need for a such a strategy, the group
agreed that it should address issues which cannot be resolved
by country-led processes, but which require international
action. The term 'comprehensive strategy' was preferred to
'global strategy' for the reasons mentioned above and because
'comprehensive' also carries the idea of a holistic approach.
The strategy needs to be time-bound and take an evolving and
flexible approach. The group felt it is rather late to be
developing a strategy, but 'better late than never' in view
of the need to map elements of EFA, define the roles of the
various partners and set priorities. Out of this discussion
there emerged a
mapping in order to identify what issues a comprehensive strategy
should address so that an environment is created for success
at national level.
Starting from the overarching framework of the 6 Dakar goals
and 12 operational strategies, the following underlying principles
were affirmed as a basis for developing a comprehensive strategy:
Poverty reduction: this is an intended outcome of EFA.
Country-based: a comprehensive strategy is rooted in and facilitates
national leadership in EFA.
Root causes: reflecting national realities.
Interactive dialogue: the basis of the development and implementation
of a comprehensive strategy - between all partners and stakeholders
at all levels.
Ownership: being so involved in developing the strategy that
each partner claims it as theirs.
Commitment: political will and engagement on the part of all
Inter-sectoral: a multi-disciplinary approach which engages
stakeholders across departmental (e.g. ministerial) boundaries
and connects with the wider development agenda.
Multi-donor: funding coordinated from national and international
sources; clear understanding of who is contributing to what.
Voices (from grassroots and all other stakeholders): space
for expression of real people's concerns and avoidance of
top-down planning and pontificating.
Sustainability: a long-term perspective where building capacity
Division of roles/responsibilities: recognizing who is doing
what and building on each partner's strengths and comparative
The group went on to spell out the elements of a comprehensive
strategy with brief comments on each (see table). A list was
drawn up of those agencies that might be involved in elaborating
part of the strategy relating to each element. This proposal
has been left with UNESCO for further consultation and negotiation.
Planning of strategy: Encompasses all the other elements;
Need to watch out for the unreached.
Policy dialogue : Linkages between practice and research;
Generation of dialogue across all levels to include all stakeholders;
Link educational policy dialogue to other policy dialogues.
Communication strategy : Public consumption and mobilization.
Mobilization of financial resources : Global initiative
and UNESCO paper Development Partner Co-operation in Support
of Education for All: Rationale and Strategies; User fees
should be addressed.
Monitoring and evaluation : Standardizing and data
collection must be centralized by a lead agency; Key is to
support country capacity to produce data;
Principle: Broad stakeholders' participation.
Coordination and networking : UNESCO's role (see paper
Towards a Global EFA Strategy); UNDG mechanism.
Generation and exchange/ sharing of knowledge : see
paper Towards a Global EFA Strategy.
Advocacy : Putting pressure on governments; No single
strategy fits all.
Capacity-building :Already some action on this; Strengthening
capacities of governments and NGOs.
Flagships : Need to map and better define the criteria,
the what, who and the relation/contribution to EFA.
With regard to
drafting the comprehensive strategy the group also proposed
that the following timetable be adopted:
- UNESCO paper on global initiative/financing should be ready
for the HLG meeting.
- UNESCO tables a summary of progress on the comprehensive
strategy during the HLG meeting.
- With respect to every element on the list, each lead agency
and task team to produce a draft by end of December 2001.
- Comments on the drafts to be returned by end of February
- Final draft of the strategy submitted for approval by all
partners, end of April 2002.
- Also, whenever possible, membership of the drafting groups
to be drawn from among the present participants to ensure
These proposals will be taken forward by UNESCO as a matter
of priority in the coming months and in full consultation
with all EFA partners.