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Welcome Address by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura
Ladies and Gentlemen
Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
at the Meeting of the Working Group on Education for All
Paris, 22 November 2000
It is a pleasure for me, as convenor of the Working Group on
Education for All, to welcome you all to UNESCO and to this
first meeting of the Group. I wish to assure you both of the
great importance which UNESCO attaches to the Dakar Follow-up
process and of UNESCO's commitment to fulfil its own mandate
as defined in Dakar. This mandate is at the same time a vote
of confidence and an immense challenge. We interpret the mandate
as "leadership through partnership". This means that we have
to create synergy within the array of different opinions and
perspectives among all partners involved in the follow-up process
while respecting, as an intergovernmental organization, that
governments are the principal authority of the movement, and
while respecting also the important message from Dakar that
the process must be led by the countries through their governments,
national NGOs and civil society.
The Dakar follow-up process is a collective undertaking at all
levels and through all existing mechanisms. You will recall
that it was decided in Dakar not to establish new permanent
structures for EFA coordination. However, I took the decision
to set up this Working Group because I am convinced of the need
to carry the Dakar Follow-up process forward in an informal
setting enabling partners to think and consult together and
to share experiences. Let me be very clear. This is not a "mini-Dakar".
This Working Group is not to take decisions on follow-up. It
is rather to be understood as a mechanism for technical and
informal consultation which will allow us to understand the
different approaches, perspectives and sensitivities among the
different partners. The outcomes of this first meeting will
assist us in the preparation of the meeting of the High-Level
Policy Group and in proposing other actions for the process
ahead of us.
In the light of the very nature of the Working Group, I have
decided to chose experienced professionals from the major partners
in the regions and countries, from the international funding
and technical assistance agencies, including the UN system,
and from NGOs. These professionals, I stress, participate in
their own right and not as elected representatives of their
organizations. In this composition, I have aimed at ensuring
fair balance both between North-South representation and among
all committed stakeholders. I must admit that I found the former
mechanism, particularly the Steering Committee, somewhat lopsided
in this regard. Furthermore, I see this new composition as a
careful response to the broad consensus that the key responsibility
for the Dakar Follow-up process lies at the national level,
and that the international community is to play a supportive,
Therefore, this is a meeting of technical experts. Despite the
somewhat formal surroundings in this room, the intended spirit
of this meeting is informality - or structured informality as
some people now say. I urge you all, including my own colleagues
to speak your mind freely and constructively in addressing the
topics on the agenda I have prepared.
This first meeting will be followed by others which I will convene,
whose composition will be revisited. Because of the need to
involve all partner groups in a balanced manner, we have had
to reconcile the imperatives of size and manageability in the
actual composition of this meeting. We have had to adopt a principle
of rotation which will allow different professionals to contribute
to the deliberations in different meetings and at the same time
make for manageable meetings able to reach concrete outcomes.
It is critical, however, that some continuity is ensured from
one meeting to the next and that the participants in each meeting
share inputs and results broadly with their constituencies,
in order that we can ensure continuity, institutional memory
and optimal progress on the ground.
What I can say for certain, as of now, is that, when the time
comes for a full review of Dakar follow-up progress, such a
review will be organized as an official meeting and according
to customary procedures.
UNESCO's commitment to Education for All has been expressed
through numerous and varied actions taken since Dakar at the
national, regional and international levels. UNESCO's action
has focused on five core areas:
fully to integrate Education for All in all programme activities
of UNESCO. This concerns education, specifically, but also
inter-sectoral activities related to culture, communication
and information, and the sciences.
to support countries in the implementation of Education
for All, for example in the formulation of education policies
that cater to excluded groups.
to develop regional mechanisms for capacity-building and
exchange between countries.
to champion more efficient use of resources and increased
investment in basic education.
to sustain the EFA momentum at the global level through
EFA advocacy at international meetings.
UNESCO has undertaken a series of consultations with the major
partners in the EFA movement - the UN system, funding and technical
assistance agencies, civil society and the Member States - in
order to share mutual expectations, provisional ideas and draft
documents. In order to support the overall EFA movement, UNESCO
has developed, in cooperation with our partners, a Plan of Action
which attempts to mobilize and rationalize action nationally,
regionally and internationally. In order to support countries
in the development of national EFA plans, UNESCO has developed,
also in active cooperation with our partners, Guidelines for
the Preparation of National Action Plans for Education for All.
We welcome any further reactions or comments you may have on
these two core documents which also implicitly and explicitly
form part of your deliberations in this meeting.
Our electronic Bulletin Board which has been established specifically
for information sharing on Education for All among our partners
provides you with regular updates on important events. A quick
glance at the various issues will confirm to you the number
of initiatives within UNESCO's five core areas of action which
have been undertaken with UNESCO involvement since Dakar in
countries, such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Mexico and India, sub-regionally,
for example among the Arab States, and internationally, for
example the upcoming Heads of States Conference on Education
of six West-African countries in Bamako, Mali.
UNESCO has also already undertaken its first capacity-building
seminars in order to support monitoring of the progress of Education
for All and is active in several of the flagship programmes,
for example on HIV/AIDS and education. UNESCO recently increased
its material and financial support to E9 countries to a total
amount of $3.3 million. It is developing numerous projects in
the areas of literacy, girls' and women's education, and teacher
training and distance education and is also supporting the sharing
of experiences among these nine most populous countries.
These, and many other activities which I cannot mention here,
explain, I believe, the generous financial support which UNESCO
has already received for its work in this area from countries,
such as Finland, France and Japan. <
You will also recall that I was personally involved in sensitizing
the G8 Ministers of Education that met in Tokyo last year. This,
along with my regular contacts with the current G8 presidency,
resulted, I believe, in strongly expressed support for EFA in
the communiqué of the G8 Okinawa Summit. I have since continued
my interactions with the G8 and have also had deliberations
with the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation
of Economic Co-operation and Development in October this year
in order to establish, on the basis of a document we proposed,
a new strategy for development partners stemming from the Framework
for Action adopted at Dakar. You have all received a copy of
my intervention on that occasion. My core concern has been to
turn political will into financial support for Education for
All. My concrete proposal is for DAC member countries to seek
to increase their support for education from the current $3.5
billion to reach $7 billion by 2005, $10.5 billion by 2010 and
$14 billion by 2015. In the same context, I also proposed to
significantly increase support for basic education from the
current $700 million within such enhanced overall educational
support. I hope that the discussions you will be having in this
meeting will be fruitful in terms of developing the strategies
and mechanisms needed to ensure international financial support
for Education for All.
Finally, in the context of the overall reform of this Organization,
I have introduced far-reaching changes which take particularly
into account the views expressed in Dakar. The main focus of
my reform is to achieve an Organization that is more streamlined,
efficient, relevant and responsive to the real needs of the
21st century. These changes are of particular importance when
it comes to the education sector where it is a matter of ensuring
how we can best support Education for All in light of our capacities
and resources. You have all received a chart showing the new
organizational structure. Each part of the UNESCO Secretariat
structure has to develop work programmes that respond to Education
for All. The education sector, for its part, has already been
consolidated into five divisions. The particular importance
attached to Education for All is reflected in the proposition
for an increased budget for Basic Education and in the creation
of the two new, transverse divisions : Promotion of Quality
of Education and Educational Policies and Strategies. It is
also no coincidence that the newly appointed Deputy Director-General
for Education is the Director of the Division of Basic Education,
Mrs Aïcha Bah-Diallo, former Minister of Education of Guinea,
whom I have by my side here today. Appointments of the directors
of the other divisions are well under way. Permit me to take
this opportunity to dwell also for a moment on someone whose
contribution has been particularly critical for me in this transition
period. This is Jacques Hallak, our current acting Assistant
Director-General for Education, whom I have on my other side,
and who has assisted me since the beginning of May of this year.
I will shortly appoint a new Assistant Director-General for
Education who will have the challenge of taking over the leadership
of the education sector from someone who is renowned for his
work capacity, his task orientation, and his decision-making
and action-oriented leadership style. Many of you know Jacques
as a shaker and a mover. These characteristics, combined with
his intimate understanding of the issues at stake and his personal
charisma and enthusiasm have been critically important for me
and for UNESCO at this crucial juncture for the Organization.
I am very pleased, Jacques, that you are chairing this first
meeting of the EFA Working Group and I count on your continuing
strong commitment to the EFA movement.
The EFA movement is an inclusive one. UNESCO's role is to ensure
that this collective enterprise is properly federated. We need
to build on the strengths of each and every actor and to ensure
a consolidated movement towards common goals and targets. Education
for All as a multi-faceted concept relying on global initiatives
characterized by diversified interests is reflected in the programme
for this meeting which is wide-ranging in terms of content,
activities and participating partners. The programme reflects
a balance. On one hand, a common framework of knowledge and
understanding has to be built of what is happening in the regions,
countries and various organizations in terms of concrete activities
after Dakar. On the other, there is the need to identify core
areas of key concern that deserve special attention in order
to shape the Education for All process in the immediate future.
This explains why, today, you will hear from a wide range of
participants on what is happening on the ground and on how certain
initiatives may have been strengthened or modified or otherwise
affected by the results of the World Education Forum in Dakar.
During these presentations and the subsequent discussions, you
are likely to begin to touch upon, amongst others, the three
core issues that have been selected for in-depth discussion
first one relates to the need for countries to produce Education
for All action plans. As mentioned, UNESCO has developed
Guidelines for this purpose as part of the commitment and
duty of the international community and the UN system to
assist the EFA process. You will also be discussing how
nationally developed action plans can be linked with other
plans, strategies and policy frameworks.
second issue relates to a new strategy for development partners,
what is called the global initiative, i.e. how the international
community can best support national Education for All efforts
in terms of resource mobilization. I know that this is of
strong interest to all of you. UNESCO will present its work
in progress in this matter. Indeed our funding strategy
document already includes comments received from the OECD
DAC and other partners and I look forward to your further
observations and inputs. UNESCO intends to play a catalytic
role for international funding.
third question is how the Education for All process can
best be monitored nationally, regionally and internationally.
You will discuss UNESCO's observatory function and the need
for close co-operation at all levels in this respect.
There are, of course, many other issues that also deserve ample
time for discussion. This first meeting may well identify issues
which could be taken up in subsequent ones. We have selected
those mentioned because of their implications for the whole
process and because of the necessity to reach agreement about
appropriate plans, strategies and systems as early in the process
as possible. You should, therefore, attach particular importance
to the thematic groups which will allow you to continue in-depth
discussion of the selected themes and to map the immediate steps
The outcomes and recommendations from this meeting will be used
in different ways to further the Education for All process.
One is, of course, in your own work within your own organizations.
Another is to help shape the agenda of the High-Level Policy
group I am setting up under my direct authority. As we decided
at Dakar, this will be an informal and flexible group. Composed
of individuals from the highest levels nationally, regionally
and internationally, its purpose is to ensure fulfilment of
the stated commitment for the Education for All process in countries,
regions and in international organizations. I hope that we will
succeed in establishing a highly fruitful relationship between
the work of this Working Group and the High-Level Policy Group
whose first meeting is expected to take place in April of next
We all wish to see positive developments towards the goals
and targets for Education for All and towards the other targets
to reduce poverty by the year 2015. I believe that we can
make true headway towards these targets even though the challenges
we have ahead of us are huge. I believe so for several reasons:
is a high level of agreement in the international community
concerning what needs to be done. $ We have extensive knowledge
of how to do it.
we have the means to do it if we decide to use those means.
But we have to sustain the momentum of the political will expressed
in Dakar in April and at other high-level political meetings,
for example in the context of the G8 countries. We must keep
the targets on the top of our various agendas internationally,
regionally and nationally. And we must make a consolidated effort
to translate political will and commitment into actions that
can help transform the lives of those who need it the most:
children, women, the poor, the marginalized and the excluded.
This must be the essence of Education for All.
This is why you are here. You are here to ensure that Education
for All remains a key focus in national, regional and international
development efforts. You are here to help move the process forward
in a consolidated manner. This Working Group is fortunate in
that it brings together such qualified representatives of both
reflection and action, and of policy and practice. Let us forge
the link between reflection and action. Let us together build
the bridge between policy and practice.
I wish you a very productive time together during these three
days. I look forward keenly to the outcomes of this meeting.
And I shall do my very best to ensure that these outcomes are
acted upon in our own institutional context within UNESCO and
in the context of the High-Level Policy Group.
I thank you for your attention.