Since 2000, UNESCO’s main focus in secondary education has been to assist Member States achieve EFA Goals 3 and 5. Goal 3 relates to ensuring the learning needs of young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes and Goal 5 is about eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and achieving gender equality in education by 2015. Some countries are still in danger of not meeting one or both of these goals.
Although there can never be a universal model of secondary education, most governments recognize that a good secondary education is one that is concerned with the holistic development and empowerment of a human being taking into account the needs of society. It involves preparation for life, the world of work and for higher education. The three main areas of focus are access, quality and relevance.
UNESCO uses an upstream approach in helping Member States and specific modalities to deliver its programmes include: identifying new trends and priorities for promoting secondary education; research, innovative approaches to diffusing good practices; promoting policy dialogue with high level government education policy makers through country, regional or international meetings. It also uses its global network, experience and expertise to bring together policymakers and experts.