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Press releases > Paris 02/03/2001
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Paris, March 2 - UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today highlighted the role of non-governmental organizations in achieving the target of providing quality basic education for all (EFA) by the year 2015, set at the World Education Forum (Dakar, April 2000), as he opened an NGO Consultation on the Global Initiative to implement this goal.

The meeting, attended by some 40 representatives of leading international NGOs working in education, was also attended by members of the international donor community, representing governments of the richest countries, and international organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It is being held in the wake of a two-day donors’ meeting on the strategy for international and inter-agency co-operation in EFA.

Speaking of efforts to improve the existing partnership mechanisms, Mr Matsuura declared: “UNESCO wishes to create a collective dialogue among all partners of the EFA movement and to co-ordinate the EFA movement as a collective responsibility. NGOs are a very important stakeholder in that movement and our partnership mechanisms are important channels of communication and joint action. They [the NGOs] represent vigour and innovation. They are people-centred, working at grass-roots level. [...] They bring an essential, dynamic force to UNESCO, as an inter-governmental organization, and to other multinational and bilateral agencies that work at the policy level, through intricate and lengthy procedures.

” Referring to criticism of UNESCO’s leadership of the EFA movement, the Director-General said: “I do not share the opinion of those who criticize UNESCO for moving too slowly. I believe in deliberate and carefully thought-out action and need first to listen to all stakeholders. Communication and information about what we are each doing are important in this regard.”

“We all know what a difficult task we have ahead of us. As partners, we have to be realistic about what we can do, when and how. UNESCO seeks to strengthen its collaboration with the NGO community and would appreciate proposals from the NGO community on how best to do this,” Mr Matsuura said, adding: “I value the critical voice of NGOs and its watchdog role vis-à-vis governments and agencies. I firmly believe that NGOs have an important advocacy role to fulfil and that they strengthen the EFA movement through their rich, innovative experiences at the micro level and their strong relations with wider civil society. I also hope, therefore, that this first, broad consultation can be the foundation for the best possible co-operation between NGOs and other EFA partners, generally, and in particular UNESCO.”

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