Change must be accelerated to achieve Education For All goals, concludes High-level Group MeetingThe pace of change is “insufficient” to achieve Education For All by the target date of 2015, concluded the High-Level Group on Education For All that today concluded its fourth meeting, which has been held in the Brazilian capital this week.
The High-Level Group on Education For All (EFA) comprises ministers of education, cooperation, and development as well as representatives from international organizations and civil society. It meets once a year to discuss progress towards the six goals set by over 160 countries at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, 2000.
In a communiqué adopted by the meeting, participants recognized that substantial progress had been made and that there had been an upturn in bilateral aid to education. They stressed, however that “the pace of change (…) is insufficient to achieve the set goals.”
The goal of ensuring that there is an equal number of girls to boys in primary and secondary education by 2005 had not been met, they said. “Furthermore, they added, “unless new and bold steps are taken to address the range of challenges that impeded access to education for those who are out-of-school and unless we ensure gender-sensitive education of a good quality and equal opportunities for all, we are also at risk of failing to reach the goal of gender equality and universal primary education in 2015 as well as the remaining EFA goals.”
The High-Level Group communiqué emphasized that “urgent steps must be taken to address the particular needs of the excluded and marginalized, the poor, the increasing population of orphans and other vulnerable groups, children with disability, and of girls and women who constitute the majority of the out-of-school and illiterate populations.” The regions in most urgent need are sub-Saharan Africa, South and West Asia and the Arab States.
The participants outlined a number of key measures that governments “must” take in the core areas of EFA namely girls education, teachers and resources. These measures notably include the abolition of school fees and the reduction of other costs of education to poor children, particularly girls. They also include the improvement of “the status, working conditions, career perspectives and professional development opportunities for teachers”.
In response to the estimated shortfall of $5.6 billion needed annually to achieve the goal of universal primary education by 2015, the High-Level Group urged donor countriesand funding agencies to: “strive to increase Official Development Assistance and other resources (…) and deepen debt and debt service relief to unlock resources for basic education in the countries that have shown accountability and transparency on education policy and domestic resource mobilization.
The participants also urged greater collaboration with the private sector in the mobilization of resources and delivery of services to the full EFA agenda, and the exploration of “new avenues to fund EFA”. To this extent the participation and cooperation of the World Economic Forum for this meeting was seen as particularly encouraging.
The Fourth High-Level Group Meeting was inaugurated on Monday November 8 by Brazilian President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva and UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. The Education For All Global Monitoring Report 2005: The Quality Imperative, which was launched on that day, formed the basis of discussions at the meeting.
The Fifth High-Level Group Meeting will take place next November in Beijing, China.