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Latests News > Information note of UNESCO Director-General
16 October 2000
 The Director-General
To: Directors and Heads of UNESCO field offices
cc: ADG/ED a.i. ADG/CI a.i. ADG/CLT a.i. ADG/SHS a.i. ADG/SC a.i. ADG/ERC ADG/AFR Directors of IBE, IIEP, UIE, UIS Dir BFC a.i. Dir BSP
Subject: Dakar follow-up: For action
The enclosed Dakar Framework for Action , adopted at the World Education Forum last April, reaffirms UNESCO's mandate as the lead agency in education. It requests UNESCO to serve as secretariat for the Dakar follow-up, and to 'place the outcomes of Dakar at the heart of its work'.
The Framework places particular emphasis on the importance of political will and stronger national leadership in countries and states that the 'heart of EFA activity lies at the country level.' At the same time, recognizing that political will needs to be underpinned by resources, the Framework calls for additional financial support for education from countries themselves and for increased development assistance as well as debt relief for education, declaring that 'no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources'.
UNESCO's role
The eyes of the world are now on UNESCO which has to live up to its commitments and to the trust placed in it. An energetic and synergistic response will be needed to initiate, facilitate and coordinate the proper follow-up mechanisms.

We will do this by:

- fully integrating the Dakar follow-up into our programme activities, first and foremost in the education sector, but also intersectorally;

- supporting countries in implementing the Framework for Action, with particular attention to the development of education policies that cater to excluded groups;

- developing regional mechanisms for capacity-building and exchange between countries;

- championing more efficient use of resources and increased investment in basic education; and

- sustaining the EFA momentum at global level through EFA advocacy at international meetings.

What does this mean concretely? 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 the responsibilities of each office.
In the light of these consultations, you are requested to submit to ADG/ED, first, your proposals for urgent action to be undertaken in your region/country, no later than 15 November 2000 (before the first meeting of the Working Group on EFA, see below) and, secondly, your work plans, no later than 15 December 2000. These work plans should outline what follow-up action is foreseen on a country-by-country basis. I wish those of you who have already sent proposals to revise them in the light of this note.
Although I will leave the modalities of intervention to your own judgement, I wish to give you some indications of what action will be required at national and regional levels:
At national level
The Dakar Framework requests all States to set up broadly-based national forums and to develop or strengthen national EFA plans before 2002. In support of this agenda, it is important, firstly, to sensitize governments to the importance of this task and, secondly, to give proper attention to existing national plans and EFA mechanisms, and to build on them, so as to avoid all unnecessary duplication and fragmentation.
All plans also need to be fully integrated into existing sector-wide approaches and supported by United Nations Common Country Assessment (CCA), United Nations Development Assistant Framework (UNDAF) and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) mechanisms, considering the centrality of education for all strategies in poverty reduction.
The attached Country Guidelines on the Preparation of National EFA Plans of Action will provide guidance for your own approach as adapted to local circumstances. This document needs to be widely distributed to governments, to partner agencies and to relevant civil society organizations and NGOs.
To strengthen cooperation with NGOs, the existing global UNESCO-NGO partnership structure - the Collective Consultation of NGOs on Literacy and Education for All - may readily serve to link up with new partners and to reinforce national and regional mechanisms and activities.
The important role of fund-raising and donor coordination in each country needs to be given particular attention, and UNESCO should play a facilitating role in countries with this in mind.
Finally, you are requested to consider which of the EFA flagship programmes (such as the United Nations Girls Education Initiative, Focused Resources for Effective School Health [FRESH], Early Childhood Education, HIV/AIDS and Education, Education in Situations of Emergency and Crisis and others, which are detailed in the attached Outline of the Action Plan) should be given priority in each particular national context.
At regional level:
Regional activities should be envisaged for the purpose of providing support for national action. The Dakar Framework calls for regional activities to be based on existing regional and subregional organizations and networks. The Regional Technical Advisory Groups (RTAGS) set up for the EFA 2000 Assessment no longer exist in that capacity, so UNESCO must identify, in each region, the proper mechanisms most conducive to furthering EFA goals. Each region also needs to implement its own Regional Framework for Action (these constitute an inherent part of the Dakar Framework).

In this context, I expect UNESCO offices to do the following:

1. to monitor and report progress on education for all, which will entail the collection and exchange of statistical information. As you are aware, UNESCO has established an Observatory to monitor and report progress achieved in education for all, placed in the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. All monitoring activities you are planning should be undertaken in close collaboration with UIS;

2. to collect, document and promote best practices in EFA. Such success stories and lessons learned should be shared between countries at regional and subregional meetings. The information thus gathered will be transmitted to the first meeting of the high-level, small and flexible group that I will convene in early 2001;

3. to strengthen national capacity at sub-regional level. This should entail the organization of workshops, training activities, etc., to be held in cooperation with UNESCO's Institutes, IBE, IIEP, UIE and UIS and with other specialized agencies and networks in the region;

4. to promote political dialogue and exchange between all EFA partners, in order to ensure that the Dakar follow-up is firmly set on their respective agendas. This could entail an annual subregional forum;

5. to facilitate communication and collaboration between all bilateral and multilateral partners in the region (in particular UNICEF, UNDP, the World Bank and the major bilateral donors), notably with a view to firming up viable strategies for EFA and promoting the exchange of information and possible coordination of activities and programmes;

6. to mobilize resources for activities envisaged by countries or for subregional capacity-building activities, as stated above. Concerning the operational budgets of field offices, some budget allocations will be redeployed, and extrabudgetary resources will be sought. It will however also be necessary for UNESCO field offices themselves to actively seek extrabudgetary funding for their own activities;

7. to advocate for EFA, to endeavour to add education for all to the agenda of all major meetings and to distribute EFA documents widely.

In all activities outlined above, and whenever appropriate, the specificity of the E-9 initiative should be considered, and, whenever possible, E-9 experiences shared with other countries.
At global level:
UNESCO Headquarters will provide proper support for all activities undertaken at national and regional levels. In close consultation with me, ADG/ED is personally leading the Dakar follow-up and will ensure the necessary coordination of national, subregional and regional activities, between regions as well as between the UNESCO Institutes, Headquarters and field offices.

The requisite flow of information will be ensured, for instance through the electronic Bulletin Board which will regularly inform you about such activities as:

- the first meeting of the Working Group on EFA (22-24 November 2000), which will bring together some 35 persons representing: developing countries and countries in transition; bilateral, multilateral and regional agencies; civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations and private foundations, as well as the OECD and the G8. This meeting will be composed of three main parts: a) information-sharing on progress and constraints in the Dakar follow-up, b) in-depth discussion on strategic issues based on conceptual / methodological papers prepared for the meeting, and c) suggestions for the agenda of the meeting of the high-level group;

- consultations with the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the World Bank, the G8, and others, on how to strengthen financing in favour of education, and

- the meeting of the high-level informal group in 2001, which I will convene in 2001 before the anniversary of the Dakar Forum;

- as well as about priority activities undertaken by partner agencies.

While UNESCO has been given the lead role in following up the Dakar Forum, it is far beyond the scope of one single agency alone to facilitate the implementation of the Framework for Action. The goal of education for all, as all other major international human development goals, can only be achieved through partnership. As requested by the Framework, UNESCO must 'continue its mandated role in coordinating EFA partners and maintaining their collaborative momentum'. I therefore expect you to consult and collaborate with all relevant partners, multilateral as well as bilateral agencies, whenever this is possible, with a view to strengthening and widening partnerships at national, regional and international levels.
UNESCO has been entrusted with the vital task of following up the Dakar Forum at a particularly difficult time. While I appreciate that your lives may have been complicated by the ongoing restructuring exercise, I nevertheless wish to impress upon you that the very credibility of UNESCO is now at stake and that we therefore must live up to this task. I am personally convinced that we have the human resources to do so and, with your help, I will do my utmost to lead UNESCO along the road to success.
I expect every UNESCO office to take this task to heart, so that education for all can indeed become a reality for all - children, youth and adults.
Koïchiro Matsuura
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