Director-General addresses 9th meeting of the International Advisory Panel on EFA

Director-General addresses 9th meeting of the International Advisory Panel on EFA
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

On 15 September 2008, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened the 9th meeting of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Education for All (EFA).

The IAP comprises representatives of developing countries, donors, multilateral agencies, civil society and the private sector. It was created in 2007 to advise UNESCO on achieving maximum political momentum and concerted effort through the EFA movement.

In his opening remarks the Director-General focused on three recent developments which he said gave reason for “renewed optimism”. The first were the outcomes of the G8 Summit in Hokkaido. Mr Matsuura welcomed the renewed commitment to EFA, particularly in Africa, and the pledge made by G8 leaders to continue efforts to meet the estimated US$1 billion shortfall in Fast Track Initiative countries. The Director-General also noted as encouraging the European Union’s Agenda for Action on the MDGs, which he said showed “a clear commitment on the part of EU Member States to help bridge the EFA financing gap”. However, he regretted that the G8 and EU did not make quantitative pledges to increase funding for basic education. Mr Matsuura pointed out that on the basis of past promises, aid to basic education would still only reach at most US$6 billion annually by 2010. “This leaves a huge impending shortfall that must be met by new commitments if the EFA goals are to be achieved on target”, he said.

The second positive development was the increasing emphasis on the quality of education. “With far too many children not learning the curriculum basics and/or dropping out before the end of primary school, quality and teacher training remain priority issues”, the Director-General underscored. He announced that filling the teacher gap will be a key focus of the next meeting of the EFA High-Level Group in Oslo in December.

Finally, Mr Matsuura referred to progress in aid effectiveness. “The 2005 Paris Declaration has created powerful momentum to change the way developing countries and donors are working together on the ground”, he stated, referring in particular to the outcome of the recent High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Accra, Ghana, where all partners expressed a strong commitment to make aid work better for achieving international development goals. Nonetheless, the Director-General noted that important challenges still remained, notably in providing more long-term and predictable funding and better targeting aid to those countries most in need. Mr Matsuura explained that the conclusions of the Ghana Forum would be brought forward to the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Event on the MDGs, which the Director-General will attend next week in New York.

“Evidence shows that we are making progress, but not nearly fast enough. While significant advances have been made towards universal primary education and gender equality, the picture for the other EFA goals is less promising. Adult literacy and early childhood care and education (ECCE), in particular, have suffered from relative neglect in both donor and developing country policies, despite their proven impact on poverty reduction, health and sustainable development. UNESCO shall continue to advocate strongly for these neglected issues and requires your assistance in their promotion”, Mr Matsuura said in conclusion. In this context he referred to the importance of the upcoming High-Level Group meeting in Oslo. “We must collaborate to ensure that the Oslo meeting is a success in putting forth concrete priority actions on financing, on management and on teachers. Let us not forget that every day to 2015 counts. We need to transform words into actions”.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 117-2008
  • 17-09-2008
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