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First meeting / Document 4
Arab Region Presentation
Dr. Ali Fakhro
Bahrain Centre of Studies and Research

Dakar was a landmark in education, the rhythm of Progress & development will now be marked by the EFA 2000 Evaluation of Dakar.

In the Arab Region, our challenges are enormous, but also our opportunities are enormous, the Arab Framework for Action has identified the following major Problems:

1. Early Childhood Education is still far below the required attention.

2. Illiteracy yet prevails.

3. Quality Education is still a privilege for a few.

4. Teachers' qualifications need improvement.

5. Weakness in internal efficiency at the primary level of the educational systems.

6. Inadequacy between financial resources and educational requirements, wastage or lack of rationalization of spending, weakness in capital expenditure (investment), and weakness in budgeting techniques.

7. Poor management of educational systems.

On the other hand, the most important achievement in the Arab States have been, Increase in primary education enrollment. However nine countries still show a net enrollment rate of 82% and below.

Opportunities exist, prospects for development exist, but they need good planning and a stronger sustained political will and commitment.

Dakar has called on countries to prepare their National EFA plans before 2002, but what are our priorities in the region? And how can we meet our goals? What should be our leading principles in implementation?

The Arab Framework for Action has proposed five principles for all actions which would help ensure the provision of basic learning needs, in the Arab States.

1. The principle of Comprehensiveness.

2. Equity.

3. Learner-Friendly Environment.

4. Commitment.

5. Keeping pace with Technological Advancements.

I would like here to take the opportunity to concentrate on two of these principles namely

1. The principle of comprehensiveness.

2. The principle of commitment.

Comprehensiveness calls for the need for the acknowledgement at all levels and sectors of society that learning is the cornerstone to sustainable human development. That learning must be holistic, open-ended and aiming at social change and culture enrichment.

Commitment includes the commitment by all relevant bodies to renewed campaign for resource mobilization at all levels, global and local, to provide more innovative and equitable formulas to resolve the problem of human and financial resources of countries and groups in the greatest need.

Comprehensiveness cannot be achieved without the Commitment of all concerned. During Dakar, Convenors, Donors, NGOs have all vowed their commitments to the achievements of EFA goals. However, six months later, this commitment was not translated into action at the regional level. UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Beirut called all convenors and regional partners for the first ARABEFA meeting. The response was very poor! Why? Where were the regional representatives of the convenors? Where were the regional organizations? Out of 18 invited UN & regional organizations only 6 were present!!! This sensitive issue will be addressed soon, for if we are serious about commitments we have to translate this into action in the field, at the regional level and at the country level. We call on Convenors to strengthen their commitment at the regional level, so that we can meet our goals and address the existing complex problems which I listed earlier.

As to our forthcoming actions, the first ARABEFA meeting (Beirut 21 October, 2000), suggested the following actions:

1. December 2000:

  • One. An Action oriented executive summary of the Country Guidelines in both English and Arabic will be made available to countries to facilitate its use, especially by the political leadership.

  • Two. Prepare a presentation on EFA follow-up, that could be presented in Countries of the region and in different national and regional meetings and forums, (to especially advocate comprehensiveness and commitment).
  • 2. February 2001:

    ARABEFA has identified a leading UN organization in each country which will:

  • One. Form a UN and other NGOs EFA support team;

  • Two. Help initiate the formulation of the Country EFA team;

  • Three. Support the preparation of the EFA plan; Four. Facilitate the mobilization and fund raising at the National level.
  • 3. March 2001:

    It was decided to identify a high level Regional Ambassadors Team, headed by Ali Fakhro (that is me) to contact or visit key development or donor agencies in the Region for mobilization and fund raising for EFA Activities. The Team will be provided with a Document prepared by ARABEFA to explain and outline major activities of ARABEFA and justification required for financing. The mechanism and time frame for the preparation of this document was adopted as follows:

  • By the end of December 2000: ARABEFA members to submit suggested Regional activities according to priorities of action.

  • February 2000: To have a document including all available and proposed activities ready. All National EFA teams formed. All UN and other Agencies country support teams formed. Countries to start preparation of EFA plan.
  • 4. April 2001:

    Ambassador Team starts mobilization.

    The communication strategy will be as follows:

  • Initiation of and ARABEFA Newsletter; both written & electronic.

  • Identification and mobilization of educational journalists to increase awareness and advocacy of EFA.
  • Financial Needs

    Based on the proposed activities that will be identified and formed both at the national and regional levels, financial needs will be estimated. The high level Ambassador Team will help through mobilization for fund raising.