Global Co-ordination > Working Group on Education for All >
First meeting / Document 19
How to translate EFA into reality
Notes by Ghanem Bibi

Arab Resource Collective
Final Version (24 Nov 2000)

These notes are not listed according to priority. They aim at contributing to a debate, especially on how to translate EFA into reality.

A - The participation by Arab NGOs in the implementation of EFA is still in its beginnings. There was more exposure due to Dakar but concrete initiatives for follow up have only begun.

Some starters included:

  • Introducing EFA to regional programmes on Child's Rights (CRs), ECCD and Child to Child.

  • Introducing EFA as a Core at a regional workshop on CRs and macroeconomics.

  • Linking EFA contents and principles to the ECCD principles.

  • Introducing EFA as a platform.
  • The following suggestions could help make EFA a movement rather than a sum of technical improvements.

    Basic challenge: how to ensure that the global causes that contributed to certain failures in the last decade are dealt with and neutralized, in the coming one (certain negative aspects of globalization, to name one). This debate needs to be picked up and continued.

    B - The concerns expressed by the NGO community need to be included.

    EFA (as a process concerning most of the people in the society): how to ensure the participation of all stakeholders and the building of partnerships? EFA, as with the CRC, needs to be campaigned widely- and justified. Conveners, donor agencies and bilaterals need to translate their strong commitment (in Dakar etc) on the regional and national levels. They could:

    (i) Clearly integrate EFA in their programmes and allocate needed human and material resources.

    (ii) Facilitate the involvement of NGOs and others: help identify stakeholders, promote EFA material, train on contents of EFA (and related documents), trigger wide debates on the needs and challenges with special focus on how civil society can be a partner, a contributor and co-responsible. NGO organizations need to be invited and encouraged. Perhaps, special EFA- coalitions need to be developed, that will, in the spirit of Jomtien, bring together: parents, teachers, GOs, academia, children, and literacy groups etc.

    In our region, such an upgrading in commitment is necessary. There are lessons to be drawn from the work on the CRC, to name one example. Most of the countries in this region enjoy good commitment to education and have great potentials. All of this can be mobilized. Developing and ensuring the spirit of partnership (in its various shades and forms) at all levels of the EFA movement, are very vital for a wide and effective civil society involvement.

    C - There is several regional "educational" organizations and other relevant networks working regionally (and of course nationally). They need to be addressed or asked to be part of the movement. There are many "creative projects" that need to be identified, mapped and reproduced. EFA-vision can cement these resources to 'greater effectiveness, quality, and sustainability'

    Creating a strong and organic link between EFA and the ongoing preparation for the Children's Summit (Sept. 2001) and the new Global Agenda could boost the cause of EFA, being the ultimate interpretation of the Right to education & learning. Joining forces among UN agencies is one step. Many stakeholders are the same in both endeavors.

    Therefore, making available and widely accessible, the main documents related to Jomtien, Dakar, The Notes, The new programmatic documents, the case studies etc, in ARABIC, becomes very vital for an Arab discourse on EFA, based on shared values and commitments, together with the other members of the human community.

    Also, the "training" on such material:

    a. includes them in the work of relevant CBOs;

    b. Workshops for teachers and their organizations;

    c. Included in curriculum;

    d. links with the expanding work on disability/ inclusion/ ECCD.

    The planned national fora will not be enough in some countries, where, for several reasons, the emphasis will again be on primary schooling and statistics rather than on EFA, literally, i.e. EFA as an "expanded vision", based on human rights and common values.

    As with HIV/AIDS in certain regions of Africa, the Arab region faces a challenge to EFA, equal in its deep and lasting impact. Conflicts, wars, occupation over decades seriously threaten any meaningful attempt to implement the Right to Education. Many millions of children and adults are deprived of learning opportunities and quality education because of lack of peace instability.

    Huge resources are either wasted or aborted. This compounds the effects of poverty and certain negative aspects of globalization. They threaten the very foundations of needed participation by the civil society, important for EFA.

    EFA programmes in the region need to reflect on this and prioritize relevant curative and preventive measures.