Literacy at top of high-level meeting agenda in BeijingEducation ministers from 22 countries along with representatives from the main donor nations, multilateral agencies and civil society will meet next week in Beijing, China (28-30 November) to discuss ways of accelerating progress towards the six Education for All (EFA) goals set by over 160 countries at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000*.
The Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, Wen Jiabao, will open the meeting, which will be co-chaired by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and China’s Minister for Education, Ji Zhou. Keynote addresses will be made during the opening ceremony by the President of Mongolia, Nambaryn Enkhbaya, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand, and the Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Arthur Zahidi N’Goma.
This fifth meeting of the EFA High Level Group, which has met annually since the Dakar Forum, will pay special attention to the goal of halving adult illiteracy by 2015. According to the recently released Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006**, some 771 million people over the age of 15 – nearly two-thirds of them women - have no basic literacy skills. Three-quarters of these people live in 12 countries: India, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil, Islamic Republic of Iran, Morocco, Democratic of the Congo.
The meeting will also stimulate fresh commitments towards the missed 2005 target of gender parity for primary and secondary education, and for promoting and expanding education for rural people. Other sessions will look at ways of strengthening partnerships between EFA stakeholders, mobilising more resources and improving the effectiveness of aid.
Several side events will also take place before and after the meeting, notably a meeting of the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI, 26-27 November); the Sino-African Forum of Education Ministers (27 November); the Third Round Table on EFA and the Elimination of Child Labour (28 November); and the EFA-Fast Track Initiative Annual Partnership meeting (30 November – 2 December).