High Level Group urges acceleration of Education for All effortsCurrent rates of progress in school enrollments need to quadruple in sub-Saharan Africa and double in South Asia to reach the 2015 goal of providing all children with a quality basic education, concluded participants at the fifth meeting of the High Level Group on Education for All (EFA), which closed here today.
According to the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006*, only 64 percent of children and in Africa and 83 percent of children in South and West Asia are enrolled in primary school. Although the Report shows steady improvement, change is not happening fast enough to achieve the EFA goals set at the World Education Forum in Dakar (Senegal) five years ago.
The communiqué by the High Level Group participants after three days of intense debate recognized the progress made since 2000, but signaled that 100 million children still have no access to school. A further 771 million adults remain illiterate, the majority of them female, and most of them living in rural areas.
The participants - education and development ministers, heads and senior officials of multilateral and bilateral agencies and leaders of non-governmental organizations - also pointed to the enduring gap of at least five billion dollars per annum, in the amount required to finance education for all. Donors, they said, should “double current levels of Official Development Assistance to education” and “give higher priority to basic education.”
At present, only US$6 billion of the US$62.3 billion in ODA each year goes to education in developing countries. Of this only US$1.2 billion goes to basic education in the Low Income Countries.
Pledges of increased aid for development and debt relief that have come this year, most notably from G8 countries, must be efficiently channeled into education in general and basic education in particular, the participants said.
Higher priority, they said, must also be given to girls’ education and literacy – which is too often neglected by governments and education authorities. This is especially true for rural communities that are also left behind by national education policies. The recently released Global Monitoring Report on Education for All estimates that US$2.5 billion per year will be needed to make significant progress towards the EFA goal of halving adult illiteracy by 2015.
The Communiqué also calls for countries and EFA partners to “progressively remove both formal and informal school fee barriers”, so as to enable all children to attend and complete primary schooling by 2015. Incentives should be provided to the poorest families, it concludes, to support their children’s education.
Child labour is another obstacle to achieving the goals. To this end, the participants welcomed the establishment of the Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education, established during the meeting, and endorsed its proposed role for advocacy, coordination and research in this field.
To maintain the momentum created at the meeting, the participants recommended that funding agencies and government partners provide UNESCO with information on financial commitments to the achievement of EFA goals by the end of March 2006.
The next High Level Group Meeting on Education for All will be held in Egypt in November 2006.