United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO hosts the Partnerships for Education Working Meeting in association with the World Economic Forum

On 18 March, Mr Koďchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO opened a two-day working meeting of the joint UNESCO-World Economic Forum Initiative, Partnerships for Education (PfE), at the Organization’s Headquarters in Paris.

The Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, Mr Richard Samans, also addressed the meeting’s opening session. Mr Samans has been a longstanding partner of UNESCO in advocating Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Education (MSPEs), and represents the private sector in the High-Level Group on Education for All (EFA).

Launched in January 2007, PfE represents a key framework for promoting private sector contributions to global efforts to achieve quality basic EFA by 2015. The objectives of this working meeting were to: consolidate Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Education (MSPEs) through PfE; increase synergy between all PfE work streams; provide a general update on PfE and its work streams; as well as define and agree on an agenda for delivering PfE outputs.

In his opening speech the Director-General recalled his participation in this year’s Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos: “I was very encouraged to see the strong interest and support for the PfE among top political and business leaders. I was also impressed by the initiative’s concrete achievements, including the publication “New Partnerships for EFA: Building on Experience” and the database on MSPEs, both of which were launched in Davos”. He went on to state that “the challenge before us is to translate this knowledge base into practical support for country-led EFA efforts”.

Mr Matsuura noted that the private sector has become much more involved at every level and highlighted the contributions it has made to EFA. He underlined that “there is growing recognition that private sector support is most effective when channelled through multi-stakeholder partnerships, rather than established on a simple public-private basis. This broad-based approach is important to ensuring that private sector contributions are more than a collection of fragmented interventions, and instead provide coherent and sustained support to national development priorities.”

The Director-General emphasized that “good coordination is the essential counterpart to partnership”. He went on to say that “national leadership is the principle upon which any successful partnership must be built. The provision of basic education is primarily the responsibility of national governments, and if multi-stakeholder initiatives are to be effective, they must be aligned with national education strategies and plans”.

Highlighting that the meeting would “set the framework for our collaborative action over the coming months”, Mr Matsuura encouraged the meeting’s participants to discuss other frameworks through which MSPEs can be delivered at country level. He noted that MSPEs need to be adapted to highly diverse local socio-economic and political contexts. “As you discuss ways in which the PfE can facilitate the implementation of MSPEs, I urge you to give special attention to those regions furthest from achieving EFA, in particular sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. UNESCO is particularly interested in helping countries – especially Least Developed Countries – strengthen their capacity to enter into effective cooperation with the private sector through MSPEs. This includes developing appropriate policy and legal frameworks, and providing support for monitoring partnerships”, he added.

“Another priority concern is addressing the learning needs of excluded groups such as rural people, indigenous populations and the disabled”, continued the Director-General, […] “I believe it is an area where MSPEs can bring real added advantage”.

Mr Matsuura also urged the PfE to give attention to the full EFA agenda, in particular to those goals that have tended to be neglected, like early childhood care and education, learning opportunities for youths and adults, literacy and quality. “These are areas of EFA that remain drastically underfunded, and where innovative forms of support, such as private sector contributions through MSPEs, are urgently needed,” he noted.

In conclusion, the Director-General underscored that: “EFA is a collective commitment that can only be achieved through partnership. The PfE is a valuable platform for mobilizing the much-needed additional support for national EFA efforts. It has the potential to make a real difference, both globally, in terms of standard setting and advocacy, and at the country level, through technical support and capacity development.”

Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 037-2008 -  Publication Date: 21-03-2008

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