The Report & Education for All (EFA)

Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report is an authoritative reference that aims to inform, influence and sustain genuine commitment towards Education for All.

The Report

In April 2000 more than 1,100 participants from 164 countries gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for the World Education Forum.

The participants, ranging from teachers to prime ministers, academics to policymakers, non-governmental bodies to the heads of major international organizations, adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments and agreed upon six wide-ranging education goals to be met by 2015.

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report is the prime instrument to assess global progress towards achieving the six 'Dakar' EFA goals. It tracks progress, identifies effective policy reforms and best practice in all areas relating to EFA, draws attention to emerging challenges and seeks to promote international cooperation in favour of education.

The publication is targeted at decision-makers at the national and international level, and more broadly, at all those engaged in promoting the right to quality education – teachers, civil society groups, NGOs, researchers and the international community.

While the Report has an annual agenda for reporting progress on each of the six EFA goals, each edition also adopts a particular theme, chosen because of its central importance to the EFA process.

The Report is funded jointly by UNESCO and multilateral and bilateral agencies, and benefits from the expertise of an international Advisory Board. During annual meetings, the Board discusses the scope and contents of the Report underway and provides advice on its future development.

Each Report is developed over a 12 to 18-month period. It draws on scholarship and expertise from governments, NGOs, bilateral and multilateral agencies, UNESCO institutes and research institutions. Research papers commissioned for each Report are available on the website.

The Report is submitted to the Director-General of UNESCO on an annual basis and considered by the High-Level Group on Education for All, whose members include government ministers, representatives of donor organizations, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations. Its role, as stated in the Dakar Framework for Action (paragraph 19), is to sustain and accelerate the political momentum created at the World Education Forum and serve as a lever for resource mobilization.

The Report is translated into the six UN languages and other languages so that its messages and findings may be widely shared.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Education for All Global Monitoring Report?

In 2000, at the World Education Forum in Dakar (Senegal), 164 countries committed themselves to achieve six goals by 2015 that would vastly improve learning opportunities for children, youth and adults.

International agencies pledged that no country engaged in this effort would be hindered by a lack of resources. Governments recognized that regular and rigorous monitoring was required to track progress towards the six goals, identify strategies that make a difference and hold governments and donors to account for their promises.

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Does the report target a specific audience?

The report aims to inform and to influence education and aid policy through an authoritative, evidence-based review of progress and a balanced analysis of the most critical challenges facing countries. The publication sets out an ambitious agenda for reform. Decision-makers – ministers, policy-makers, parliamentarians and education planners – are a prime audience.

Just as crucial is the broader constituency of civil society groups, teachers, non-governmental organizations, university researchers, youth networks and the media: by enriching understanding of education issues, the report is a springboard for debate, knowledge-sharing and advocacy.

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The report is published by UNESCO but recognized as being independent. Why?

The six Dakar goals do not emanate from one single United Nations agency: they are the result of a collective agreement and partnership. As such, the report does not represent the voice of one organization; rather, it is an international project that tracks the performance of governments, civil society, bilateral donors and international agencies.

Reflecting this spirit of partnership, the report’s editorial board, which meets yearly, includes representatives from all these key constituencies.

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Who funds the report?

The Report is financed through the generous support of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, the MasterCard Foundation, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and UNESCO.

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How is the report prepared?

An international team of research officers and policy analysts based at UNESCO headquarters in Paris (France) draws upon a wide range of expertise to prepare the report.

An advisory board gathering specialists and practitioners from different regions provides guidance on the special theme chosen for each report. The team synthesizes specialized literature and commissions background papers from researchers and institutes around the world.

Since 2005, online consultations have also been organized in order to broaden the scope and content of the report.

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Where do the data come from?

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) plays the lead role in providing the report team with extensive data on students, teachers, school performance, adult literacy and education expenditure.

The Institute, based in Montreal (Canada), collects data from over 180 national governments. Serious limitations exist in data coverage, however, making it difficult to monitor such dimensions of EFA as public financing to education.

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Why do countries often claim that they have more up-to-date data?

The report publishes quality-assured data compiled so that statistics are internationally comparable for the majority of countries, using the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). However, not all countries use the same classification systems, sometimes leading to discrepancies between national data and those published internationally.

Differences can also stem from national population estimates: to calculate several indicators, the Institute uses estimates from the United Nations Population Division. These sometimes differ from those published by individual countries.

More generally, the quality assurance process entails a time lag between the collection (and often the publication) of data by national governments and their release by UIS for use in this and other reports.

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Can the performance of countries be ranked?

The Education for All Development Index (EDI), developed by the report team in 2003, is designed to provide a rounded picture of progress towards the four most measurable EFA goals: universal primary education, gender parity, literacy and quality, using a proxy for each one.

This composite indicator strikingly demonstrates the tight linkages between each of these goals. Poor quality, for example, can hinder progress towards universal primary education.

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How is the report shared and disseminated?

Media launches organized throughout the year in all regions generate strong press coverage and local interest. Besides these events, launches are increasingly accompanied by policy seminars to engage decision-makers and parliamentarians in debate on EFA issues. The report’s findings are also shared during ministerial meetings, international academic conferences, training courses for education practitioners and in seminars involving governments, donors, researchers and teachers. It is also disseminated through the media and social networks.

Summaries of the report are available in the six UN languages (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian) as well as several others (including Bangla, Bahasa Indonesia, German, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Portuguese, Thai and Vietnamese). The full report is also available in the official UN languages. All versions, together with background papers and statistical data are viewable on this website.

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Are these goals reachable?

Education is a right, yet it is still denied to 61 million children who are out of school and to 7775 million adults who are not able to read and write. There is some progress in providing care and education for very young children, but not enough, despite the clear benefits. Great strides have been made since 2000 to improve access to primary school, but a wide gap remains between enrolment and completion rates, especially for children from the poorest households and marginalized groups. The gender parity goal, set for 2005, has been missed, and concerns about the quality of education are emerging everywhere. 

To reach EFA efforts need to be accelerated and more focused, with donors also making greater effort to harmonise procedures and align themselves with national policies. Public spending on basic education clearly needs to increase, but so does international aid.

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