News bulletin board of UNESCO's Education Sector
No. 7
 
Welcome to the electronic news bulletin board of UNESCO's Education Sector, informing you about UNESCO's activities in the field of education and in particular the follow-up to the World Education Forum in Dakar (April 2000). Please forward it to other interested colleagues.

Contents (30 October 2000)

- UNESCO's Director-General proposes a 50 per cent increase of basic education budget

- Director-General of UNESCO informs field offices on Dakar follow-up action

- Meeting of bilateral donor agencies and UNESCO on Dakar follow-up

- Regional up-date on EFA activities

- Countries in action for education for all (in this issue: Pakistan, Nigeria and Mexico)

- Dakar follow-up on the agenda

Attachment in this issue:

- Information note of UNESCO Director-General to field offices

- Provisional minutes of the first meeting on EFA in the Arab region

 

 

UNESCO's Director-General proposes a 50 per cent increase of basic education budget
 
UNESCO's commitment to education for all was reconfirmed during the 160th Session of the Organization's Executive Board, which ended last week in Paris. The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, proposed a 50 per cent increase in the regular budget for basic education for the next biennium 2002-2003.
 
The Executive Board devoted a special session on 17 October 2000 to the follow-up to the World Education Forum. The Board members congratulated UNESCO's numerous initiatives in the past six months as co-ordinator of the global education for all movement and said that the Organization should focus on the strategic objectives of bolstering education as a fundamental right, the quality of education through the diversification of contents and methods, promoting experimentation, innovation and the dissemination of best practices, and sharing of information as well as policy dialogue.
 
Several members expressed their satisfaction with the increased focus on resource mobilization for education. As mentioned in previous issues of the Bulletin Board, Mr Matsuura has in recent months engaged in consultations with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the G-8 and the Paris Club.
 
UNESCO's Plan of Action, which is currently in the making, was also subject for comment. Several Board members asked for clarifications regarding the roles of the different partners including UNESCO national commissions and national and regional organizations in the Dakar follow-up process and requested a consultation process before the plan is finalized.
 
On behalf of the Director-General, Jacques Hallak, Assistant Director-General for Education a.i., welcomed the action taken by many countries in the follow-up to the Dakar Forum and expressed his gratitude for financial support to UNESCO from countries such as France, Finland and Japan. Mr Hallak emphasized the fact that the Dakar follow-up involves all divisions of the Education Sector and builds on the unique capacitiimprovinges of UNESCO's six institutes for education, its Institute for Statistics, and its regional and field offices. Finally, he stressed that the UNESCO Plan of Action, which will be circulated before the end of the year, is intended to be "a flexible document evolving with and adapting to unfolding events".
 
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Director-General of UNESCO informs field offices on Dakar follow-up action
 
What is the role of UNESCO's field offices in the Dakar follow-up process? In a new five-page information note, Koïchiro Matsuura outlines what field offices are expected to do to ensure "an energetic and synergistic response" to the Dakar Framework for Action.
 
"I expect UNESCO offices to review their work programmes in the light of the Dakar follow-up and to consult among each other at subregional level in order to map out responsibilities of each office," Mr Matsuura writes.
 
Field offices are requested to submit to the Assistant Director-General for Education, proposals for urgent action to be undertaken in a specific region or in specific countries, no later than 15 November 2000. UNESCO headquarters also expect to receive work plans no later than 15 December 2000, in which follow-up action should be specified on a country-by-country basis.
 
The note further explains the nature of national and regional activities expected to be carried out as part of the Dakar follow-up and gives information about action at the international level.
 
 
Please find the information note attached to this Bulletin Board.
 
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Meeting of bilateral donor agencies and UNESCO on Dakar follow-up
 
In a meeting on 17 October 2000, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education a. i. Jacques Hallak met with representatives of bilateral donor agencies of Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Finland and Norway to exchange views on the follow-up process to the Dakar Forum.
 
The donor representatives all stressed their commitment to EFA and their readiness to support UNESCO leadership. Some agencies explained that their agencies are going through a reflection process to implement the Dakar Framework for Action, in particular to ensure meeting the commitment in the crucial phrase "no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources".
 
Mr Hallak said that the contribution of the bilateral donors agencies was not sufficiently visible at the World Education Forum and that UNESCO intends to ensure that the efforts made by these agencies, such as the secondment of staff and support to specific programmes, are more fully highlighted. He also asked agencies to be patient and tolerant, as "the Dakar follow-up is happening at a time where UNESCO is undergoing a major reform process. "If we succeed in the Dakar follow-up we will change the Organization," he said.
 
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Regional up-date on EFA activities
 
The Arab States
 
The first regional consultative Arab meeting (ARABEFA) took place on 21 October at UNESCO Beirut. Representatives of UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, ESCWA (the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia) the World Bank, Arab non-governmental organizations, and two education specialists discussed mechanisms of support to EFA in the region.
 
They decided that at country level, a lead agency will assist national EFA team in the formulation of national plans of action by the year 2002, and the mobilisation of the required resources. Country guidelines on the preparation of national EFA plans of action were also discussed.
 
 

At the regional level, ARABEFA is entrusted with the following responsibilities:

Identifying regional needs and mobilizing resources within the region

Setting up collaborative mechanisms that allows countries to prepare and implement their national plans of action

Co-ordinating advocacy with governments and ensuring the synergy of all existing regional networks linked to basic education

Reinforcing the institutional capacities of each state, especially for collecting and using statistics.

ARABEFA will identify a high-level regional Ambassadors Team for mobilization and fund raising for EFA to start in April 2001.
 
 
Follow-up activities at the regional level will be developed according to four major themes, each of which will be led by one agency: early childhood development (UNICEF), primary education (UNESCO), literacy and non-formal education (UNESCO) and girls' and women's education (UNICEF).
 
Please find the provisional minutes of the meeting attached to this Bulletin Board.
 
Contact: Victor Billeh, Director, UNESCO Beirut
e-mail: v.billeh@unesco.org
 
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Countries in action for education for all (in this issue: Pakistan, Nigeria and Mexico)
 
 
Pakistan
 
In Pakistan, the Dakar follow-up process is well underway. The Ministry of Education has set up a national EFA team comprising representatives from the Ministry, provinces, non-governmental organizations and civil society which will prepare the national EFA plan of action. To this end, the team will first conduct a series of baseline studies, then consult with provinces and finally organize a national workshop.
 
Based on the results of these activities, UNESCO will, at the invitation of the government of Pakistan, undertake a mission early next year to review the consultation process, and the papers and studies produced. The mission will also collaborate with the government and experts to further improve the Ministry's plan of action. Major areas of action are data assessment and evaluation, decentralization, and literacy and non-formal education.
 
Nigeria
 
A new Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme in Nigeria is now operational and being implemented with the technical and financial assistance of UNESCO and other partners. UNESCO’s contribution and assistance will initially go over a period of three years
 

During a UNESCO mission to Nigeria earlier this month, the Terms of Reference for the new programme were signed by the Minister of State for Education, Lawal Batagarawa. The programme comprises five components:

Improving community education and literacy, which aims at providing adults and out-of-school youth with learning opportunities outside the formal school system.

Reinforcing the capacity of local school management, which includes re-enforcing the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration.

Revising the role and function of the school inspectorate system to better assure the quality of the provision of basic education.

A Teacher Education Enrichment Programme through the development of networks among teacher training colleges using new information and communication technologies.

Improving learning opportunities in the early primary grades with a special emphasis on girls.

 
In addition to the UBE programme, UNESCO is participating in an education sector analysis and providing technical and financial assistance to develop technical and vocational education.
 
 
Mexico
 
Mexico is one of the countries where the World Education Forum has triggered a reflection process on how to accelerate the Education for All movement. A workshop organized in August gathered national programme officers and education specialists to discuss how to adapt existing strategies to meet the goals of the Dakar Framework for Action. The follow-up action is involving all Secretaries of Education in Mexico’s thirty one states.
 

Sofía Leticia Morales Garza, Secretary–General of the National Commission of Mexico to UNESCO, highlights the following programmes, which constitute important building bloks in the Mexican plan of action:

The Education Programme for Youth and Adults offers relevant courses adapted to the learner's age, gender and rural and urban environment. Textbooks and audiovisual materials are used as learning tools. This programme is now being used in other countries in the region, for instance in Guatemala’s literacy campaign.

The Distance Education National Programme builds on the Telesecundaria-model which has, for the past thirty years, brought secondary education to more than a million Mexican youths and to some 30,000 youths in Central America, Santo Domingo, Colombia, Bolivia and southern parts of the United States. In Mexico, a pilot project will now adapt this model to include education at basic and tertiary level to improve educational quality and access.

The promotion of values in basic education. Today, some 5 million youths receives civic and ethic education at secondary level in schools throughout Mexico. In addition, some 250,000 youths in military service receive training on themes such as democracy, violence inside the family, respect and equality between men and women, and HIV/AIDS.

 
Mrs Morales comments that the challenges represented in the Dakar Framework for Action demand “an intense collaboration in the region to reach the proposed goals in 2005 and 2010”. She adds that the region aims at reaching universal primary education and at least 70 per cent of young people in secondary school within this time frame. She added that it will be crucial to continue the strong regional collaboration that already exists within the framework of the Summit of the Americas (co-ordinated by Mexico with Chile, Argentina, the United States, Canada and Brazil and in collaboration with the Organization of American States (OAS), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
 
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Dakar follow-up on the agenda
 
At the meeting of the United Nations Administrative Committee on Coordination (27-28 October 2000 in New York), UNESCO Director-General presented the Dakar follow-up activities in the presence of the United Nations Secretary-General and other United Nations heads. He highlighted the importance of collaboration between agencies to meet the challenges in education and reiterated his commitment that UNESCO will continue to work according to the principle of "leadership through partnership".
 
An Inter-agency Consultation on Education in Situations of Emergency and Crisis, organized by UNESCO, UNHCR and UNICEF, will be held in Geneva, Switzerland from 8 to 10 November 2000. The purpose of the consultation is to agree on practical strategies and mechanisms to achieve more effective inter-agency collaboration at global, regional and country level.
 
Within the framework of the United Nations Special Initiative for Africa, the Heads of State of Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Senegal will meet on 27 November 2000 in Bamako, Mali, to explore how to accelerate the education for all agenda in these countries. UNESCO's Director-General will give the keynote address at the conference.
 
Information Contact: Anne Muller (a.muller@unesco.org)
 
 
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