29.05.2016 - UNESCO Office in Beirut

Towards costing and financing of the SDG 4 – Education 2030 Agenda in the Arab States Region

Participants together with IIEP experts and the Director of UNESCO Beirut Office during the workshop © UNESCO Beirut Office

Following adoption of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in September 2015 that included one goal specific to education (SDG 4 – Education 2030 Agenda), Arab Member States set out national reflections and consultations in order to begin implementation. While recognizing considerable achievements made in advancing on quality education for all agenda during the 2000-2015 Education for All period, the region is undoubtedly confronted with a number of critical issues that affect strategic directions and education sector implementation at national level. Financing is one of such challenges and central to the aspirational, transformative nature of the SDG 4 – Education 2030 agenda towards provision of equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong opportunities for all.

In this spirit, with technical support from UNESCO International Institute of Educational Planning (IIEP), UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States - Beirut commenced preparation of comprehensive capacity development programme with a view to supporting Member States to strengthen their capacities in cost and financing of education. To this end, a first sub-regional training course was conducted in Beirut from 23 to 27 May 2016, targeting 15 senior technical officials in charge of planning, finance and monitoring, from Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and Palestine. Conceptualized in the context of supporting Arab Member States to integrate the Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Education 2030 Agenda into national education sector development, the training was based on IIEP’s internationally recognized pedagogical approaches. Through adapting these approaches to the context of the region, the training involved collective reflections, hands on exercises on education sector planning within the SDG 4 framework and projections and simulation of education cost and financing within a macro economic framework.

Referring to the Education 2030 Framework for Action, the link of the SDG 4 targets and strategies were demonstrated in the education sector planning process of the participants’ respective countries. The importance of countries integrating an all-inclusive quality education framework was illustrated within the commitment of the Arab Region SDG 4 Roadmap. It was noted that the key driver of education is enrollment and the set objectives in a country’s education strategic plan. The objectives are set based on the education sector diagnosis that culminates in education strategic planning process. The education financing takes into consideration the macro economic framework and limited to the fiscal pressures and government budgetary allocation. The ability of a country is informed by the level wealth creation of the economy and hence the share of the education budget. The macroeconomic indicators are therefore used to plan for the costing and financing of the education sector.

The participants demonstrated their skills in application of the cost and financing simulation model by utilizing past statistics and set objectives for the school enrolment and learning conditions. They utilized intermediate variables according to the organization of the education system and policy objectives and linked to projected variables. At the end, after linking to the macroeconomic framework, they derived the annual financing gap in the education sector. A simulation model is a useful tool that facilitates dialogue for setting up of objectives and scenario in a strategic planning process of the education sector.

In closing the training and looking beyond it, Dr. Hamed Alhamami, Director, UNESCO Beirut Office reiterated the need for a mainstreamed education sector holistic financial plan for the countries of the Arab States Region. The process would result in effective and efficient utilization of the limited resources for an all-inclusive quality education. The Director further stated that UNESCO would continue to provide technical support to the Arab Region on incorporation of cost and financing model within the education sector strategic planning processes.

Following the week-long successful training programme, UNESCO Regional Bureau will fully document the content of the training programme with a view to scaling up its support to Arab Member States as they begin to implement the SDG4 – Education 2030 agenda.

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