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DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO

The Director-General holds an Information Meeting on EFA

The Director-General holds an Information Meeting on EFA
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 30 May 2007, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, held an Information Meeting for Permanent Delegates on Education for All (EFA).

In his opening address, Mr Matsuura provided a comprehensive overview of recent developments in this priority area, and also outlined the efforts he was making to enhance yet further UNESCO’s lead role in coordinating international efforts in EFA. With 2007 a midway point towards the target date of 2015 for achieving the EFA goals, the Director-General described the meeting as an excellent opportunity to “take stock of progress so far and to define the challenges that face us in the remaining years.”

Mr Matsuura focused on four main subjects on his address. The first was the need to strengthen the High-Level Group, as the key lever for mobilizing political and financial community for EFA. Toward this end, Mr Matsuura informed Permanent Delegates of how the re-sequencing of the main EFA events will provide the High-Level Group with a much more focused and action-oriented agenda. The EFA Global Monitoring Report will now be made available before the meeting of the Working Group, enabling the latter to better assess the Report’s findings and translate these into strategic policy recommendations for consideration by the High-Level Group. The Director-General also announced the creation of a special International Advisory Panel on EFA, to prepare and follow-up on the main EFA events. The IAP held its first meeting at UNESCO Headquarters on 21 May 2007 (see Flash Info No. 67).

The second subject was the funding of EFA, which remains a constant and urgent concern. “Recent data from the GMR shows some worrying trends, both in terms of domestic funding and external assistance”, the Director-General said. Out of the 67 developing countries for which we have data, 39 have increased public expenditure on education as a share of GNP since 1999, while in 28 countries public spending has actually decreased, in some cases significantly. The picture for international aid is likewise mixed. Despite new pledges of significant funds, the international community is still off track from mobilizing the estimated US$11 billion required annually to achieve EFA. Moreover, the GMR’s analysis also suggests that aid is not being targeted to those countries and regions most in need. “It is imperative that these trends be reversed, and that the provision of future aid is more predictable, better targeted, and committed over a longer time period”, Mr Matsuura underscored. He proceeded to explain UNESCO’s role in identifying innovative ways of mobilizing resources to help fill the financing gap, pointing in particular to the Organization’s work on debt swaps for education and the new “Partnerships for Education” initiative that UNESCO has just launched with the World Economic Forum to harness private sector contributions to the EFA goals.

The Director-General then moved on to UNESCO’s global coordination role. He spoke first of the progress of the Global Action Plan, and the efforts now being made to apply the Plan at country level. He also drew Delegates’ attention to the UNESCO National Education Support Strategy (UNESS) as a very promising tool for helping apply the GAP, and for establishing a more coherent approach to implementing the EFA agenda at country level. Mr Matsuura furthermore referred to UNESCO’s efforts at partnership building with civil society, as well as the important role the Organization plays in fostering South-South cooperation, in particular through the E-9 initiative and through collaboration with regional and sub-regional Organizations.

Finally, the Director-General turned to UNESCO’s three core initiatives in EFA, which are enhancing the Organization’s support to Member States in the key areas of literacy, HIV and AIDS and teacher training. The Literacy for Empowerment (LIFE) initiative is up and running in 11 countries, with a further 11 being included in 2008 when LIFE enters its second phase. Thirty countries are currently participating in the UNESCO led UNAIDS initiative on education and HIV and AIDS (EDUCAIDS), with more expressing interest. The Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) is being expanded through a series of four-year cycles, and currently comprises 17 countries. All three initiatives are being led in active partnership with other stakeholders, including UN bodies, bilateral donors, NGOs and the private sector.

In closing, the Director-General highlighted how the Education Sector reform had created a more streamlined, integrated and accountable structure, providing UNESCO with the framework it needs to fully exercise its leadership role in EFA. Here, Mr Matsuura reiterated his steadfast commitment to achieving the goals of EFA by 2015: “let us seek tailored solutions, creatively and energetically, till basic education becomes a reality for all”.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 074-2007
  • 30-05-2007
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