High Level Group urges countries to make Education for All a top priorityAbuja - The High Level Group on Education For All, meeting here for the past two days, has expressed its alarm that only 83 countries, on present trends, have achieved or have a high chance of achieving by 2015 the goals of universal primary education, gender parity in education and the halving their illiteracy rates.
In a communiqué issued at the close of the meeting, the High Level Group, comprising 24 members, including government ministers, representatives of donor organizations, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, also highlighted its concern over the reported decline in aid for education during the 1990s. Despite recent commitments from some countries, it says, existing evidence suggests a serious gap in international support to achieve Education for All (EFA) goals even after countries undertake maximum efforts to improve domestic resource mobilization and efficiency."
These findings were reported in the recently released 2002 Education for All Global Monitoring Report: Is the World on Track?, written by an independent international team, with UNESCO's support, and which formed the basis of the High Level Group's discussions.
The communiqué urged the international community to accelerate progress to deliver on commitments made at the World Education Forum (Dakar, Senegal, 2000), and to ensure that no country was left at risk through lack of resources.
Countries themselves also need to increase their efforts, said the communiqué, stressing the importance of good planning, set in the economic context of countries, and taking into account such challenges as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and conflict. Another priority is action to eliminate gender disparity at primary and secondary school level.
The communiqué pointed to the importance of increasing the involvement of civil society in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of EFA efforts, and building up of professionals skills required for these tasks.
Improving data on education is another vital area of concern to the High Level Group. Effective planning, financing and policy development for education depend greatly on the availability of reliable data. The communiqué signals the need for more accurate and timely qualitative and quantitative data and encourages EFA partners to intensify their support for capacity building efforts in this area.
Nonetheless, the High Level Group acknowledged that "important advances" have been made and looked forward to a marked improvement in the situation when its members meet for their third meeting scheduled next year in India.
"This second meeting has proved particularly fruitful," said UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura. "We have been more focused and more purposeful, and I feel sure that we have helped put Education for All back on track."
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The 2002 Education for All Global Monitoring Report: Is the World on Track? is available online in pdf format at www.unesco.org/education