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Press releases > Dakar 26/04/2000
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ROLE OF NGOs AND CIVIL SOCIETY STRESSED AT WORLD EDUCATION FORUM BRIEFING IN DAKAR
 
  Dakar, Senegal, 25 April - Equitable and universal basic education will never be accomplished without an increased role for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society, stressed organizers of the World Education Forum at a media briefing to launch the largest intergovernmental and non-governmental conference in a decade to combat illiteracy and reach worldwide goals in basic education.
 
  "The United Nations has an important role to play in underscoring the point that without a greater role for NGOs and civil society, education for all will never be achieved," said Svein Osttveit, executive secretary of the Forum. The three-day conference which opens tomorrow morning in Dakar, Senegal, has brought together heads of state, education ministers and key decision-makers from more than 180 countries; representatives of more than 100 international and grassroots NGOs; as well as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the executive heads of UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank.
 
  The Forum will synthesize the results of the largest and most comprehensive stocktaking of education in history and set clear goals to meet the learning needs for all by 2015. More than 180 countries took part in the ground-breakingly comprehensive two-year Education For All 2000 Assessment as well as taking part in six major regional conferences held in late 1999 and 2000.
 
  "The educational assessment is a report card for countries, and like most report cards there are some higher marks and some failing marks," said Victor Ordonez -- basic education expert at UNESCO and the principle resource person for the world forum-- noting that educational conditions in sub-Saharan Africa will be a major priority at the Forum.
 
  "Even countries with high marks disguise alarming information…and only surface progress," Mr Ordonez said. On the one hand, the number of children in school has risen from 599 million in 1990 to 681 million in 1998, while the number of out-of-school children has correspondingly decreased from 127 million to 113 million in that time. But, as Mr Ordonez stressed, rural and female students, in particular, continue to be excluded from education even as governments have in many cases increased educational access for urban and male students.
 
  While underscoring the need for educational funding and aid as well as the exchange of best practices and technologies, Mr Ordonez put the onus of responsibility on governments to show genuine political will and for the media to draw a sharper focus on the needs and role of education. "Addressing the problems of education addresses the basic problems of the world (…) like violence, the environment and HIV/AIDS. There can be short-term solutions to world problems but education is the only long-term solution."
 
   "When taking stock of the lessons and failures of the past decade, we see that millions of children are still excluded from school…their right to education violated," said Jennifer Chiwela, spokesperson for the two-day International Consultation of Non-Governmental Organizations which concluded today. Ms Chiwela, from the Ghana-based People Act Foundation, stressed that NGOs must never be excluded as stakeholders and participants in promoting education for all. "We have been called partners for years, good intentions have been made known, but when it comes to action NGOs have not been recognized."
 
For more information:

contact the World Education Forum media co-ordination office
at tel (221) 826 80 52 or (221) 641 8281
or email a.muller@unesco.org
WEBSITE: www.education.unesco.org/efa
 
 
 
 
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