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Dakar Follow-up > UNESCO's draft Action Plan
 
"Outline of UNESCO's draft Action Plan for the follow-up to the World Education Forum"
 
  1. UNESCO, whose mandate as lead agency in the Education for All (EFA) movement was reaffirmed at the World Education Forum held in Dakar in April, has given considerable thought to the concrete modalities of implementing the Framework for Action adopted at the conclusion of the Forum's discussions, and has conducted wide-ranging consultations in that connection. This document provides a résumé of the results of this reflection.
 
 2. When the mechanisms for the follow-up to Dakar are set up, UNESCO would like to draw on the lessons of the past as regards:
 
 

a. ensuring that the developing countries, who must be considered the principal actors on the international education scene, play the role of a prime mover in the implementation of the Dakar Framework for Action, and that they be therefore better represented in the overall direction of the process.

b. establishing positive relations with all the bilateral agencies that manifested their commitment to actively support the various programmes and projects aimed at advancing towards the objective of a quality education for all.

c. enlarging the field of co-operation at the international level, involving in the follow-up to the Forum not only UNESCO's four official partners in the Education for All movement - World Bank, UNFPA, UNDP and UNICEF - but also other multilateral agencies such as ILO, FAO and WHO without whose support the Organization will not be able to meet the challenge made to it at Dakar.

d. ensuring the closer association of the ensemble of UNESCO's Member States with the Forum's follow-up; discussions were initiated to this end with the fifty-eight countries composing UNESCO's Executive Board which met in May.

e. redefining its relations with the community of NGOs, which should provide representatives reflecting the community's diversity and which should equally have a closer association in the future with the follow-up to the Dakar Forum.

 
  3. Within the framework of the Dakar follow-up, UNESCO should play a key role in helping to coordinate comprehensive, thorough and continuous policy-planning and donor coordination at all levels (national, regional and international), building upon the strengths of the World Bank, UNICEF, UNDP and specific bilateral donors dedicated to this area of work. Accordingly, together with its partners, it counts on launching diverse initiatives, simultaneously at the national, regional and sub-regional and international levels, including the following:
 
  3.1. At the national level: actions that will provide concrete support to countries in the preparation and implementation of their national plans of action, together with all the agencies already in place (World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, etc.). Actions in this context include:
 

 a. preparing and making available to States a guide aimed at helping them to get down to work and, in particular, to establish or refine national education for all co-ordination committees: this guide should appeal for a highly participatory and comprehensive process at the national level, well knit into existing plans. A first version of it is being prepared by UNESCO, based on experience acquired during the preparation for the Dakar Forum; it will be submitted for comments to different partners. The guide will then be translated and widely distributed through the national commissions for UNESCO and various inter-agency structures, to all relevant national partners, of government and civil society.

b. the consultation by UNESCO and all interested partners in a concerted and systematic manner, of Member States in order to offer them their technical assistance in preparing or refining their national actions plans or certain elements of these plans, and in incorporating them into broader sectoral plans and multi-partner mechanisms. UNESCO will seek to provide aid first and foremost to countries that are firmly engaged in achieving the objective of education for all and that do not already have co-ordination mechanisms; it will be vigilant that the whole process is transparent, participatory, integrated and well-articulated with development strategies and poverty reduction programmes in progress (CCA/UNDAF, CDF/PRSP, SIPs, etc). The Organization will share information collected during this consultation with all of its partners.

c. aid to countries so that they can implement the sectoral strategies thus defined: at the request of governments, UNESCO will collaborate with other agencies at the local level, in encouraging the mobilization of the necessary resources, the establishment of sector analysis and project design and implementation, with the aid of on-the-spot experts; these experts will be mobilized with the help of existing regional networks.

 
  3.2. At the regional and sub-regional level: actions aimed at clearly identifying the needs of the region concerned, at mobilizing resources within the region and, finally, at setting up collaborative mechanisms that will allow countries to prepare and implement their national plans of action. Several activities could be envisaged within this context, including:
 

a. holding regional or sub-regional technical meetings enabling all the bilateral and multilateral partners in the region, the regional development banks, representatives of ministries of education and finance, teachers' unions, the private sector, civil society, foundations, etc. to be brought together to discuss the region's needs in terms of basic education, and the modalities of co-operation and financing to be envisaged within this framework. UNESCO should play a key role in coordinating advocacy with governments, whose responsibility must be clearly placed in the forefront at each of these meetings. The forthcoming PROMEDLAC meeting in Bolivia could serve as a test case for launching such consultation.

b. the identification by UNESCO, with the aid of all the States of the region and of its partners, of existing networks in all the domains linked to the development of basic education. The agency best represented in the region should be responsible for ensuring the synergy of all these networks. In certain cases, this may be UNESCO; in other cases, other agencies will clearly appear to be better placed.

c. reinforcing the institutional capacities of States which will permit them eventually to implement their national plans of action concretely and to engage in constructing political dialogue with the diverse co-operation agencies concerned. Meetings, training courses, etc. will be organized within this context at the regional and/or sub-regional level. UNESCO (and its specialized institutes), together with other partners, such as UNICEF or the World Bank, will participate in particular in reinforcing States' capacities for collecting and using statistics, for providing normative guidance on education reform and for educational planning.

 
  3.3. At the international level: actions providing an impetus to and a co-ordination of the overall follow-up process, ensuring that it best responds to the needs of the countries, particularly those that find themselves in a difficult situation. In this regard, UNESCO intends:
 

 a. to set up a high-level, informal group, convened by the Director-General of UNESCO, and bringing together twenty to twenty-five individuals: representatives of developing countries - their political will must continue to be manifested in a clear and determined manner -, of donor countries that participate in financing basic education and of multilateral aid agencies; its members will be invited to join by the Director-General of UNESCO. There is no question of creating a steering committee, as may have been the case in the past, but rather an informal group that will meet at the invitation of the Director-General. Its main tasks will be high-level advocacy, mobilization of resources (in particular of educational investments), advice and support for achieving EFA goals. It will review reports from the working group on education for all, which is described below. At last, it will communicate needs and progress achieved in a compelling manner to all concerned audiences. UNESCO, with the help of all of its partners, will be responsible for preparing the organization of the meetings of this group, calling on the most relevant expertise for each meeting as a function of the subjects to be discussed. The first meeting will take place before the first anniversary of the Dakar Forum.

b. to establish a working group on education for all, more technical in nature, that will work in consultation with the informal high-level group. This working group, chaired by the ADG/ED of UNESCO, will provide technical guidance for the movement as a whole, create and sustain partnerships, support regional and sub-regional networks, and will ensure proper linkages among flagship inter-agency programmes, within the Dakar follow-up process in general. It will facilitate donor coordination at national, regional and international levels. This group, numbering about thirty, will bring together both representatives of the three principal actors (developing countries, donor countries and multilateral aid agencies), representatives from regional networks, representatives of civil society - NGOs and private foundations active in the field of education, the OECD and the G-8. It will hold its first meeting in autumn 2000.

c. to pursue the placing of an observatory to monitor and report progress achieved in education for all: this observatory function will be confided to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, which will work in close cooperation with all donor agencies and NGOs that are making substantial investments to improve educational statistics systems. Among other innovations, this Institute will develop an 'EFA development index' that will bring together several pertinent indicators as regards progress towards the objective of Education for All; new indicators will be developed, making it possible to tackle more precisely questions of quality, results, etc.

d. to feed the reflection on the rationalization of the flow of financing in favour of basic education, in co-operation with OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the World Bank, the G-8, the Club of Paris, UNICEF and various representatives of recipient/developing countries. Among the points that could be discussed within this framework are: how to reinforce mechanisms for forecasting aid flow; how to improve the statistical evaluation and reporting of these flows; how to monitor both multilateral and bilateral efforts and achievements; how to increase co-ordination among donors in the field of financing, at country level; how to build on the "fast-track initiative", launched by the World Bank, in partnership with UNICEF, the Global Campaign and other actors; how to deal with the problem of debt relief and debt cancellation and its impact on all aspects of basic education; how to optimize utilization of SWAP mechanisms, etc.

e. to participate in the development or consolidation of major flagship inter-agency programmes that respond to certain objectives adopted at Dakar and that could be rethought in the perspective of the Forum, such as: - the inter-agency initiative FRESH (Focusing Resources for Effective School Health); - the inter-agency initiative on the theme AIDS and education; - the inter-agency initiative devoted to early childhood development; - the initiative in favour of literacy, which falls within the framework of the proposed United Nations Decade for Literacy; - the United Nations initiative in favour of the education of girls; - the initiative on education in emergency situations.

 

It is essential to invite the agencies that assure the leadership to consolidate these initiatives, the working group's action here being essentially that of ensuring their synergy. For its part, UNESCO will either assume the leadership of new initiatives that meet the priority objectives set at Dakar and that are not at present the object of concerted action at international level or alternately will initiate and encourage such initiatives (the topics to be considered could include inclusive education, education and child labour, the education of women, new information technologies in education, educational statistics and educational quality, etc.).

 

f. to ensure that the diverse preoccupations expressed at the Dakar Forum are duly taken into account when drawing up the agendas of different international meetings in the future - in particular Beijing +5, Copenhagen +5, ECOSOC and the Millennium Assembly - and in on-going initiatives, in particular those devoted to the struggle against poverty and exclusion.

 
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Source: World Association of Newspapers
 
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