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    Paris, 17 January 2000 - Whether education for all is a reality in Europe and North America will be examined at a regional meeting organised in Warsaw (Poland) by the International Consultative Forum on Education for All, February 6 to 8, with a view to assessing progress achieved since the World Conference on Education for All (Jomtien, Thailand, 1990).
    Some 300 participants including ministers - respectively in charge of education, foreign and social affairs - and representatives of non-governmental organisations are expected to attend the meeting. Six roundtable debates are scheduled: Planning and Management of Basic Education; Laying the Foundations of Lifelong Learning; Early Childhood Education and Development; Education and Work; Education, Poverty and Exclusion; Democratic Citizenship in the Context of Multiculturalism. A Regional Framework for Action will be discussed and adopted during the meeting.
    Ten years ago at the World Conference on Education for All, 155 countries and some 150 organisations committed themselves to provide basic education for all and to reduce illiteracy massively. The time has come to take stock of what has been achieved. Six regional conferences will make it possible to group national data for inclusion in a global report which will be presented at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal (April 26 to 28). By then, regional meetings will have been held not only in Warsaw but also in Johannesburg (South Africa) in December 1999; Bangkok (Thailand), January 17 - 20; Cairo (Egypt), January 24 - 27; Recife (Brazil) February 2 - 4; and San Domingo (Dominican Republic), February 10 - 12.
    Although the public might assume that education for all is a well-established reality in Europe and North America, this is not the case. Developing countries do not have a monopoly on exclusion from education. Europe and North America also have teachers who have not been paid for three years, refugee children attending school under the most precarious conditions, rural schools lacking even the most rudimentary equipment, inadequately trained teachers, immigrant children badly integrated into the school system. The failings of basic education are legion even in rich countries. We know, for instance, that some 20 per cent of the adult population in this part of the world have difficulties with reading and writing. This makes the Warsaw assessment all the more vital.
    The International Consultative Forum on Education for All is in charge of this ambitious evaluation and of those carried out simultaneously in the other regions of the world. The Forum is based at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris and is co-sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNDP) and the World Bank along with a number of bilateral agencies.
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