Global Co-ordination > Working Group on Education for All >
First meeting / Document 3
Contributions to the Information Sharing on progress
and constraints in the Dakar Follow-up from members
of the NGO Network in the field of Education in Zambia
Jennifer Chiwela
People's Action Forum

While the World Education Forum in Dakar acknowledged some achievements made and lessons learnt in the Education Goals set by the Jomtien World Conference on Education, it clearly bemoaned major failures encountered and opportunities missed, during the Decade.

The Dakar Framework for Action reaffirms and acknowledges that Education is a fundamental human right, and that Education "is the key to sustainable development and peace and stability within and among countries, and thus an indispensable means for effective participation in the societies and economies of the twenty-first century, which are witnessing rapid globalization." While the whole world acknowledges the just stated fact, it painfully moves at a snail's pace to decisively implement action on promises and commitments made. The Dakar World Education Forum has been and gone, and there is deathly silence in most of our countries about Education for All. In the meantime, for the millions of children, youth and adults around the world, it is the same old story-life continues without a glimmer of hope - that should be made possible through education.

We firmly believe, and agree as already articulated that "the heart of EFA activity lies at the country level." However, we also believe that every action taken nationally, regionally or internationally to enhance delivery and quality of education, should be out of equal and collective obligation to humanity by all players. The global vision and commitment should not be lost but remain focused, coordinated and consistent. All efforts and plans - national, regional and international - should move in tandem towards the achievement of and implementation of the Dakar Framework for Action.

Specifically, we believe that

1. In developing a shared vision and relevant education programmes for inclusion in the EFA plans of action, developing countries need space to re think what type of education will go beyond providing immediate basic and essential needs to equipping them sufficiently to survive globalization. All the various projects being piloted by national governments with individual bilateral partners, and the flagship inter-agency programmes should fit into the national broader and clearly defined education programme priorities. This will translate into the desired country ownership and direction of the EFA project.

2. The flight for education for all should be seen through equal attention paid, in terms of financing to education for those out side the formal system and whose care may be placed outside the Education portfolio.

3. National Governments' own commitments to raising Education budgets should be supported by commitments from northern Governments and multilateral funders to genuinely and speedily deal with debt relief and cancellation issues. Experience has shown us over the years that when national economies decline seriously, the first budget cuts are in social sectors including Education.

4. Raising and mobilisation of international financing of the Dakar Framework for Action commitments need not wait for national action plans. A Finance Pool can and should be established - managed by some consortium of Stakeholders - ready to support countries with viable action plans. In this way, the world will stand in partnership, tackling, from different angles, using different tools, the onslaught of illiteracy and poverty on humanity.

5. If UNESCO as the mandated lead agency in the Education for All movement is to accomplish tasks outlined in the Paper "OUTLINE OF THE ACTION PLAN - THE FOLLOW-UP TO THE DAKAR FORUM" - it needs to consider (in addition).

a) its own time - bound plan of action to implement what it has set itself out to do, and to prod all actors / stakeholders for concrete action

b) a stronger (in terms of staff establishment) and clear leadership at national and regional levels where action is. In this way, its coordinating and leadership roles in terms of innovation, technical advice, implementation assurance and coherence, in the spirit of the Dakar Declaration, will be more real and present. Local experts in given countries from Governments or NGOs and Civil Society can quite easily be seconded to UNESCO Offices.

c) practical ways of keeping the EFA movement alive globally - in terms of publicity to permeate the entire spectrum of society