E-9 Education Ministers reaffirm their commitment to Education For AllEducation ministers from the world’s nine high population countries - Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan –have reaffirmed their commitment to meet the basic learning needs of all their peoples and to work more closely together to achieve the six goals set at the World Education Forum held in Dakar (Senegal) in 2000.
The ministers were taking part in the 5th E-9 Ministerial Review Meeting, which was held in Cairo (December 19-21) at the invitation of the Egyptian Government. The E-9 Initiative was created in 1993 in New Delhi as part of the follow-up to the Education For All Conference in Jomtien (Thailand). It aims to strengthen collaboration between the world’s nine high population countries in their quest to provide quality education for all . The E-9 countries are home to over 50 percent of the world’s population and account for 70 percent of illiterate adults and more than 40 percent of the world’s out-of-school children.
Opening the meeting, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura praised the “many positive developments in the E-9 countries” over the past decade, but pointed out that educational trends there “are far from uniform” and that in some “the educational mountain remains very steep.”
In a declaration issued at the close of the meeting in Cairo last Sunday, the education ministers outlined the improvements in education in their countries, including increased enrolments, improving literacy rates (especially for women), and greater access to Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which was the theme of the meeting.
However, they also acknowledged that they “still face a number of challenges,” including poverty, “inequitable access to quality services […] for disadvantaged children, particularly girls”, funding constraints, and a lack of planning and coordination, especially for ECCE.
To face these challenges, the education ministers committed themselves to “revitalise and realign the E-9 Initiative” in light of developments since the World Education Forum, and to broaden their partnership “to include key international actors, civil society, and corporate/private sector”.
They also agreed to “promote technical cooperation among E-9 countries and other developing countries in areas such as rural education, open and distance learning, ICT, research and knowledge transfers, inter-institutional linkages, exchanges of students as well as teachers and establish a databank of successful innovations.”
To further develop Early Childhood Care and Education, the ministers undertook to “develop and strengthen policy frameworks in ECCE particularly in regard to care services for younger children and the education of parents”, and to “mobilise key stakeholders and ensure appropriate inter-ministerial coordination.”
The Declaration also noted “with concern” that the E-9 countries were yet to benefit from additional funds promised for the EFA movement through the Fast Track Initiative (FTI), a multilateral initiative organized by the World Bank after the Dakar Forum. It also urged the international community “to revisit the question of debt swaps for education to support country efforts for resource mobilization for EFA.”