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Press releases > Paris 02/10/2000
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Paris, 2 October 2000 - UNESCO Director-General Mr Ko´chiro Matsuura today appealed for increased development aid in an address to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) about the role of education in poverty reduction.
 The Director-General declared that "UNESCO has a core role to play," in poverty alleviation and in "translating into reality the goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015." He explained: "UNESCO's fields of competence [education, science, culture and communication] are critical for empowerment; for creating an enabling environment for people to participate actively in individual and social development through education, respect for human rights, cultural and historical sensitivity in policy design, environmental sustainability, and access to information for all."
  Mr Matsuura said: "UNESCO believes that it is vital to foster the development of an integrated concept of education, one that enables individuals to adapt to a rapidly changing social, economic and cultural environment, and to continue to learn throughout life. It is no longer enough to learn how to read, write and count." He added that education "must also result in improved social conditions for the poor."
 The Director-General reiterated the goals for education set out in recent G8 meetings: "Achieving the goals of universal primary education by 2015; achieving gender equality in schooling by 2005" and ensuring "that no government seriously committed to achieving education for all would be thwarted in this achievement by lack of resources."
 Speaking of EFA [education for all], the Director-General declared: "A new Framework for Action to this effect was adopted by the World Education Forum [which took place in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000]. UNESCO was given a heavy responsibility for the follow-up to this Conference. It is committed to meeting that responsibility. [...] And it will do so, as is natural, co-operatively. With other agencies, multilateral and bilateral. With NGOs. But first and foremost with Member States. As they have said and I willingly repeat, they are in the driver's seat. But they need massive international assistance."
  He called the financial contribution by the world community to poverty reduction and education for all a "make or break factor" but argued that "responsibility for resource provision rests mainly with national governments in the South". Mr Matsuura urged that "a mutually reinforcing relationship must be developed between macro-economic stability and structural reform on one hand, and growth and reduction of poverty and inequality on the other."
Mr Matsuura denounced the fact that "as a percentage of the combined GNP of DAC countries, Official Development Assistance [ODA] has fallen by more than one-fifth in constant dollar terms from 1992 to 1997. [...] Private investment flows constitute the major proportion of overall financial flows. [...] We must remember that just to reach the goals of education for all, we have a perceived funding gap of $8 billion per year."
"The international community must now mobilise itself, rethink the provision and modalities of aid, identify new financial sources and mechanisms, and show that it is capable of practising what it preaches", Mr Matsuura declared. He added: "A development process oriented towards poverty alleviation should involve increasing both domestic resource mobilisation in the South and private international capital flows. [...] The international community should assist in the design of strategies that will help to increase savings, attract private investments, improve the efficiency of local financial systems, manage and reduce debt, improve public financial management and make the best use of ODA." He particularly urged "the international community to make concerted efforts: To achieve policy coherence; to improve trade relations; to ensure debt relief; to increase aid; and to target the aid carefully and effectively."
Mr Matsuura appealed to the OECD and DAC-member countries, in particular those with large economies, to: "allocate a proportionately higher share of overall ODA to social development [and] increase support for education for all." He proposed "increased overall support for education, with particular emphasis on basic education [...] from the current US$3.5 billion to US$ $7 billion by 2005, US$ 10.5 billion by 2010 and US$ 14 billion by 2015."
The Director-General added that "UNESCO, for its part, will fully play the leadership role assigned to it in Dakar by co-ordinating the international community's delivery of its commitments and, in particular, facilitating more effective donor co-ordination; promote co-ordination at the country level through adoption of sector-wide approaches; help in ensuring monitoring of targets and goals for EFA nationally and internationally, in which UNESCO will play a key role."
"But," he emphasised, "perhaps most of all, we must ensure that debt relief serves as an immediate catalyst for sustainable social and economic - including educational - development and poverty reduction. We must revisit the terms of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and enhance the speed of its enactment, while carefully scrutinising the context in each country."
Finally Mr Matsuura said that "even if we all have much to learn still about the underlying causes and relationships that determine the state of poverty within nations, we do know enough to put preventive and counter-active measures into place. [...] We have the political will of States for the Dakar goals. We also need the financial will. This is in the interests of us all."
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