Promoting Education for All (EFA)
Every child, youth and adult should have a chance to get quality education, regardless of whether they are male or female, rich or poor, disabled or not, living in remote areas or in urban centres. This is the main aspiration of the EFA initiative first agreed to by 155 Governments (including the Government of Indonesia), UN agencies, INGOs and development partners in Jomtien (Thailand) in 1990, and renewed in 2000 in Dakar (Senegal). The six internationally agreed education goals that aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015 are:
- Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.
- Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
- Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes.
- Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.
- Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.
- Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
Significant progresses in achieving EFA have been made by countries through policies, programmes and projects implemented in the past and currently implemented. Specific strategies, approaches and targeted programmes have aggressively been pursued by countries to reach particular groups. Although significant improvements have shown in national aggregates, however many issues still exist and must still be addressed urgently if EFA is to be met by 2015. Poverty and marginalization are major causes of exclusion from education, which need to be effectively responded to to avoid setbacks in progresses the countries have achieved towards attaining the EFA goals. A lot of work still needs to be accomplished in only nearly two years left to achieve the 2015 targets.
In assisting Governments achieve the EFA goals, UNESCO undertakes the following:
- Facilitating and supporting research, writing, publishing, printing, and dissemination of the annual EFA Global Monitoring Report. The Report is an independent publication commissioned by UNESCO, as the UN agency leading the Education for All movement, on behalf of the international community. It is the product of a collaborative effort involving members of the Report Team and many other people, agencies, institutions and Governments. The Report monitors international progress towards the EFA goals, and closely analyzes a certain thematic education issue (which is differently selected each year) and proposes recommendations and best practices to deal with the issue. It is the leading reference for assessing global progress towards the EFA goals, which also cover Millennium Development Goals 2 (universal primary education) and 3 (gender parity in primary education). UNESCO Office, Jakarta supports launching and discussion of the annual Reports to enhance public awareness of education as a basic human right, and to serve as a catalyst for debate on actions needed to be taken to tackle the specific highlighted issues and challenges in education.
- Since 2006 UNESCO has called on countries to identify issues, policies and strategies of education reform to ensure that education will reach the unreached groups. In the Asia-Pacific region, the focus on 'reaching the unreached' began with countries' development of their respective EFA Mid-Decade Assessments in 2006-2007, which since then the countries have regularly updated. Since 2005 six Regional EFA National Coordinators’ Meetings have been held.