|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
|Previous Page||Next Page|
PART II Analytic Section
6. Progress towards goals and targets (covering the decade 1990 - 1999)
General assessment of progress made since 1990 towards achieving EFA goals set by national authorities. The assessment findings may be presented in respect of each of the six "target dimensions" contained in paragraph 8 of the FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION TO MEET BASIC LEARNING NEEDS, as well as other ‘dimensions' that seem important.
As explained in Part I/1 above, this question does not apply to the situation in Germany.
7. Effectiveness of EFA strategy, plan and programs
General assessment of (i) the soundness (realism) of the agreed strategy, plan and major programs in view of current conditions (e.g. were they too ambitious? restricted? unclear?); (ii) their implementation (e.g. were the required resources available and well used?); and (iii) the results obtained (e.g. were the results in keeping with the effort made? satisfactory? disappointing?). What are the two or three principal achievements in EFA since 1990?
The major programs and strategies agreed on after the Conference in Jomtien are satisfactory in the light of current conditions, as far as both the national situation and international co-operation in education are concerned.
Resulting from policy dialogue in the Jomtien process, an increasing number of partner countries have recognized the importance of improving the quality of educational systems. Therefore, support and development of national educational structures and trainers as well as policy consultations are as imperative as financial assistance. Also, the relevance of intercultural bilingual education and formal education in mother tongues to improve learning achievements has been recognized. Subsequently, adequate programs have been initiated, in particular in Latin America and in Africa.
In Germany, literacy promotion has become a structural part of the educational system. Compared to the eighties, the number of people benefiting from the services offered has reached significant proportions.
8. Main problems encountered and anticipated
What problems or difficulties slowed or prevented progress toward specific EFA goals and targets? Which of these problems or difficulties are likely to persist and which new ones may begin slowing efforts to achieve national EFA goals and targets?
Both domestically in Germany and externally in the area of international co-operation, ongoing constraints on public finances and significant costs associated with the German reunification process after 1990 put pressure on budgets in general. This can be considered as the main obstacle to achieving EFA goals and targets. Laender and municipalities which are responsible for a large percentage of social benefits are particularly affected by this process. This endangers the standard of literacy work achieved in the country. The German Institute of Adult Education (DIE) in particular expresses its concern that achievements are being undermined by a loss of quality and by pressure to curtail or even cancel literacy classes. In a survey of the situation and the perspectives of literacy and non-formal basic education for adults, published in 1996, the DIE noted a general decrease in the importance attached to literacy work. A declining offer of literacy and basic education courses, the cuts in public funding and termination of major federal literacy research projects in 1998 that were not prolonged, underline this trend. The overall situation reveals a rather vulnerable and precarious picture. Despite the reduction in the availability of trainers and the existing personnel structure, qualification of trainers remains the top priority.
Coming to international co-operation in the field of basic education, the budget for technical co-operation has plateaued from 1996 to 1999, although on a comparatively high level (see section 5). This is due to several reasons: In 1995, the number of basic education projects underway had already achieved a considerable dynamic. Also, stemming from UN Conferences on Population (1994), Women (1995), Social Issues (1995) and Habitat (1996), new issues came to the forefront of the political agenda. Given the fact that basic education has often been interpreted narrowly as formal education of school-age children, additional pressure on programs came to bear. However, the main problem certainly relates to the widening gap between the obligations entered into by the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development and the budgetary constraints.
9. Public awareness, political will and national capacities
Is public support and demand for basic education strong or weak, or difficult to assess? What evidence is there of the Government's commitment to achieving the national EFA goals or targets? On the basis of actual experience since 1990, what appear to be the major strengths and weaknesses of Government departments, local authorities and other partners (described in section 5 above) involved in providing basic education?
The former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Roman Herzog, as of his election in 1994, has placed strong emphasis on education policy and reform in numerous public speeches. When the newly elected Government took office in October 1998, its coalition agreement confirmed the focus on education policy. The Right to Education, i.e. the best possible education for all, is paramount in the light of the challenges of the 21st century. The Federal Government aims for an 'educational partnership' with the Laender, local authorities, trade unions, employers and industry. Still, growing concern about the quality of learning achievements points to the necessity of educational reform.
Non-profit organizations have been making efforts to increase awareness of functional literacy issues in Germany for many years. A literacy poster exhibition, 'World of Words', has been touring the country since 1992, co-produced by the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg and Klett publishers (Stuttgart), reaching one town per month on average and often hosted by Community Adult Education centers. The exhibition is a very effective way of combining awareness about the global importance of literacy, with direct information about accessibility of literacy classes in Germany. It receives a lot of coverage in local and regional media. The Federal Literacy Association in particular has intensified efforts to raise public awareness. Since 1995, the former Federal Working Group on Literacy has installed a nation-wide telephone service, providing the possibility of anonymous counseling for people with reading and writing deficiencies. Interestingly enough, this service telephone has been sponsored by a private company. Since 1985, it has also published the only German magazine specializing in literacy and basic education ('Alfa-Forum', formerly 'Alfa-Circular'). Furthermore, it has compiled, in 1998, an 'Alfa-Catalogue' listing all literature relating to literacy / illiteracy available in German. From 1997 to 1999, a number of TV and movie spots and advertisements have been produced in co-operation with two advertising agencies and Klett publishers. These campaigns have been possible only because all partners, such as e.g. various public and private TV channels as well as printed media, provided co-operation free of charge.
Raising public awareness through radio and TV spots has been one of the main aims of the project 'network basic qualification' of the German Institute of Adult Education (see section 4). In 1997, it published the second edition of a national guide book of organizations and institutes active in literacy work in Germany, in co-operation with Klett publishers and the German Commission for UNESCO.
Moreover, the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V) which took place in Hamburg in July 1997 received extensive media coverage and was thus very successful in reinforcing public awareness on this issue.
These elements, as well as those referred to in the sections above, mirror public awareness, political will and national capabilities. The Jomtien Framework for Action clearly helped to put basic education on the national agenda and encourage government and non-governmental organizations and associations to re-examine their priorities in the light of its targets. Literacy work in Germany has developed a much stronger and better structured networking infrastructure compared to the pre-Jomtien situation. Public support is difficult to assess but elements such as the continuing demand for literacy classes, a stable interest in public information, the ongoing attention of media and various initiatives of both the Federal Parliament and the Laender Parliaments (e.g. most recently, in March 1999, in the Land of Schleswig-Holstein) indicate sound public awareness.
10. General assessment of the progress
This section presents a synthesis of the conclusions that emerged from the assessment exercise, drawing on the "considered opinion" of key groups and individuals involved in EFA. It may serve as the basis for considering new policies and strategies for "Education for All", as outlined in section 11.
German policy and decision-makers have responded to the Jomtien Action, reviewing their role in the world community of "Education for All", by adapting funding and program guidelines and by addressing the domestic needs of citizens with reading and writing deficiencies.
In Germany, the Jomtien conference (1990) and the International Literacy Year (1990) undoubtedly raised public awareness of functional illiteracy in industrialized countries, a problem which had emerged in the eighties. Efforts to respond to the problem have been given new impetus and have been strengthened considerably in the first half of the nineties. However, in the second half of the nineties, financial constraints have been the main obstacle to literacy work. Today, there is growing concern about the declining quality of learning achievements and the educational system in general. There is large-scale consensus about the necessity for educational reform.
At the same time it is clearly recognized that qualification requirements in the labor market are becoming increasingly demanding. Job opportunities for unskilled workers are drastically diminishing. Reading, writing, numeracy and basic social skills are also indispensable prerequisites for professional training and upgrading courses. Hence, in years to come, the level of literacy of a nation will be a prerequisite to respond adequately to the challenges of a globalized economy.
Although the educational sector is increasingly affected by budgetary constraints, calls for urgent reform to improve the national educational system grew stronger, not just from non-profit organizations and experts active in this field but also originate at the highest political level. As mentioned above (see section 2), Roman Herzog, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, has on numerous occasions underlined the importance of education and basic social skills and called for new initiatives in the education sector. As a result, a lot is expected of the new Government which took office in October 1998, in implementing the objectives set out in the coalition agreement.
As explained above, activities in the field of basic education have clearly been expanded in the area of international co-operation. The new policy concept 'supporting basic education in developing countries' which came into force in 1992 reflects the key issues of the Jomtien conference. This concept remains the cornerstone of German development co-operation in this field.
|Previous Page||Next Page|