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The EFA 2000... > What is this ? > Information note on country...
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  Flash 01/09/1998
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  Information Note on the Education for All 2000 Assessment
   
   1. What is the EFA 2000 Assessment ?

The Assessment is an inter-agency sponsored, global exercise to take stock of the current status of basic education in each country and to assess the progress that has been achieved during the 1990s since the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand, March 1990). This assessment process will thus generate the information needed to plan further action at the beginning of the 21
st Century to meet the basic learning needs of all children, youth and adults.
   
 

 2.  Why undertake the Assessment ?

The 1990 Jomtien Conference was convened at the initiative of the executive heads of the four UN agencies (UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank), with UNFPA as a co-sponsor. The Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs, which was agreed by the Conference, foresaw the need for comprehensive policy reviews at the end of the 1990s to enable countries to assess the effectiveness of their efforts to reach their own Education for All goals and to revise their plans accordingly. Then, on 12 December 1997, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/52/84 on Education for All, which contains the following two operative paragraphs:

8. Recommends that all Member States, and relevant agencies of the United Nations, as well as non-governmental organizations, provide the necessary information on the implementation of the strategies of education for all to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization so as to enable them to report on the overall progress achieved and the shortfalls encountered in attaining the goal of education for all;

9. Requests the Secretary-General, in cooperation with the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and in consultation with Member States, to consider effective ways and means for achieving the goal of education for all, including the desirability and the feasibility of launching a United Nations decade to eradicate illiteracy, and to report thereupon to the General Assembly at its fifty-fourth session, through the Economic and Social Council ;

Subsequently, in response to General Assembly resolution, the executive heads of UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank met in Geneva on 30 March 1998 as the Convenors of the International Consultative Forum on Education for All, which they had established to guide and monitor follow-up action to the Jomtien Conference. They endorsed plans for the Assessment and agreed that the five agencies will work together to carry it out, particularly through their country and regional offices. They also agreed that the results of the Assessment will be examined at the next (fourth) global meeting of the Forum.

   
    3. Who coordinates the Assessment?

The inter-agency steering committee of the International Consultative Forum on Education for All agreed on the broad outlines of the assessment process, and the Forum's five Convenors (UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank) designated staff to constitute an ad hoc Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to advise and assist the EFA Forum Secretariat, based at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, to plan and coordinate the Assessment at the global level.

   
    4. Who actually carries out the Assessment?

The Assessment is essentially a matter for each country to carry out for itself. The General Guidelines prepared by the EFA Forum Secretariat and the TAG propose that each country establish a national EFA Assessment Group with broad representation of the principal actors involved in basic education and designate a national assessment coordinator to organize the Group's work.

The global Assessment involves also a number of regional and sub-regional activities organized under the EFA Forum's auspices and intended to support the country-level assessments and to draw together the elements needed for the overall assessment of progress towards Education for All.

   
    5. What is the time-frame for the Assessment ?

The invitation letter and the General Guidelines were dispatched from Paris to all national governments in early July 1998.

   
     6. What does the Assessment entail ?

The Assessment is both a stocktaking and a planning exercise. The assembly and analysis of data and qualitative information on all components of basic education are essential - but not sufficient in themselves. Assessment implies value judgements in comparing performance with objectives, as a prelude to deciding further action. The EFA Assessment is intended to refocus attention on basic education and mobilize the many providers and their partners for a renewed effort to reach national EFA goals. The country EFA assessments should be an occasion for re-examining national objectives and strategies concerning basic education.

All six of the target dimensions that derive from the Jomtien 'expanded vision of basic education' should be examined (see the General Guidelies). Since most statistical data concern schooling, which is largely controlled by government, there is an understandable tendency to give most attention to schooling. However, the Assessment must give attention also to other components of basic education, such as early childhood development activities, literacy and other educational programmes for adolescents and adults, as well as the use of the media for basic education. The Assessment should focus on the development of basic education during the 1990s, i.e. following the Jomtien Conference, but it may also draw on earlier data and use projections to measure trends and their effects.

The Technical Advisory Goup selected 18 core EFA indicators to help countries assess their situation in basic education. Each national EFA assessment group will need to decide for itself which additional indicators may be significant for its work. It is important to note that the data needed for 13 of the 18 core EFA indicators are already requested in UNESCO's annual statistical questionnaires. Thus the assessment exercise can make use mainly of data that all countries should already be collecting and reporting according to international agreements. However, particular attention should be given to reporting pupil enrolment figures by grade and age - which are necessary for calculating several important EFA indicators. Some countries may find the assessment exercise a good opportunity to introduce some changes to their in-country school census questionnaires and/or to conduct sample surveys to gather new kinds of data they may need for their assessment.

The disaggregation of data by meaningful categories and to one or more sub-national levels is important for detecting significant disparities - male/female, urban/rural, and between geographical areas or ethnic groups -- and for determining certain priorities. Similarly, the analysis of a time series of data, where possible, can indicate trends that are important for planning future measures. Although baseline data will not be available for all EFA indicators, the Assessment should serve to record data now that can be used for future assessments.

The Technical Guidelines for the Assessment provide very detailed specifications, illustrative data sheets, and suggestions addressed essentially to the country technical sub-groups responsible for data collection and analysis relating to the core EFA indicators. They are being dispatched to every country, along with a diskette containing electronic templates in EXCEL format. These templates can be adapted to fit specific country characteristics (e.g. number of provinces or states) and should facilitate data entry and calculations.

In addition to the regular data collection and analysis that all countries are expected to undertake, the global Assessment will include a number of special surveys and case studies in a cross-section of developing countries to gather information on (i) conditions of learning, (ii) learning achievement, and (iii) literacy and other non-formal basic education programmes. These will be commissioned to appropriate national or regional institutions and should be carried out in cooperation with the national assessments in the countries concerned.

The preliminary draft country reports for December 1998 (see section 5 above) are proposed to focus and structure the country EFA assessments early around key policy issues that are country-specific. These preliminary reports, which may draw on existing data (including education data reported to UNESCO in 1998), should help identify data gaps and issues requiring special attention. Although these draft reports will be incomplete, they will constitute the principal documentation for discussion at the sub-regional workshops planned during the first quarter of 1999, which will provide additional guidance to countries in how to carry out their EFA assessments and report their results.

The reporting of data will be done largely through the annual statistics questionnaire sent by UNESCO to all Member States. Countries will be asked also to send a copy of the completed electronic data templates to the EFA Forum Secretariat. More detailed information about reporting will be issued later.

   
     7. More information about the Assessment ?

The Assessment exercise is outlined in the General Guidelines, which have been sent to all governments (via the UNESCO National Commission) and to the five agencies for distribution to their respective country and regional offices. Technical Guidelines and the accompanying electronic data sheets, intended for the technical staff actually responsible for data collection and analysis, will be distributed to the national assessment coordinators and to the liaison officer designated by the five agencies in each country.

The EFA Forum Secretariat can be reached by e-mail at efa@unesco.org and by fax at 33-1-45685629.

   
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