Mr Matsuura reported that participation at the High-Level Group meeting was top-level, with President Wade opening the event, and 15 ministers or vice-ministers taking part in the proceedings – “though only two from donor countries”, the Director-General pointed out, commenting that “unfortunately, and in spite of strenuous efforts, the level of representation from donor governments did not match the importance of what is at stake”. Other countries, multilateral agencies, and civil society organizations were represented by senior officials.
This was the first meeting of the High-Level Group to take place within the new sequence of EFA mechanisms. The Director-General noted that this had led to “more focused” and “evidence-based” discussions, which in turn helped participants to produce a more a clearer and more action-oriented communiqué. Mr Matsuura noted that the final communiqué addressed squarely the three key issues raised by the 2008 Global Monitoring Report; namely: equity and inclusion; quality; and EFA financing. He highlighted the main recommendations:
“In terms of equity and inclusion, a detailed mapping of excluded groups and improved policy frameworks for inclusion were key actions identified for the coming year. Regarding quality, once again the policy dimension was in focus, emphasizing three measures. First, countries must develop policies for training and recruiting greater numbers of primary school teachers. Second, they must take a comprehensive approach by focusing on curriculum, pedagogy, gender equality, language of instruction, textbooks and adequate facilities. Third, policies are required to ensure children are ready for learning, calling for higher participation in early childhood care and education, and access to health and nutrition programmes in school. The question of financing EFA stimulated the most debate. Indicative targets were agreed for developing country budgets, but not for donor commitments, a sign of how difficult progress is on that front.
The communiqué also calls for raising the profile of EFA, particularly by linking it with other global development issues and events and by working for greater media exposure”.
The Director-General stated that the communiqué sets out “an important, though very challenging, collective agenda for 2008 and beyond”. He informed that the International Advisory Panel (IAP) was scheduled to meet in January 2008 to discuss how the provisions of the communiqué should be acted upon, and later accounted for at the next High-Level Group meeting, which will be held from 16 to 18 December 2008, in Oslo. The IAP will also give preliminary consideration to the agenda for next December's event and the whole process leading up to it. This includes establishing effective links between the major EFA-related events in 2008, and the inclusion of EFA priorities on the agendas of other global and regional development meetings. “We need a systematic approach that maximizes the outcomes of all these events for the benefit of EFA”, the Director-General said.
In sum, Mr Matsuura described the Dakar High-Level Group meeting as “productive, stimulating and engaging”, showing “a high level of commitment to EFA” and “a clear determination to push forward towards the 2015 targets”. He noted as “gratifying” the widespread appreciation of UNESCO's efforts to re-sequence the EFA mechanisms, and pledged to “apply the lessons learnt not only to the preparation of next year’s events but also to the interface between EFA and the wider development agenda”.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 205-2007 - Publication Date: 21-12-2007