Information Meeting for Permanent Delegates on Education for All

On 22 September, the Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, held an Information Meeting for Permanent Delegates on Education for All at UNESCO Headquarters.

In his opening address, Mr Matsuura provided an update on recent developments in EFA, speaking in particular of the progress that has been made with regard to the EFA Global Action Plan and the Education Sector Reform.

As the Director-General noted, the positive outcomes of the UN Development Group Principals’ Meeting in Geneva on 12 July, and by the G8 Summit on July 17 in St Petersburg, have helped to establish the Global Action Plan “as a recognized platform for enhancing multilateral collaboration in support of national efforts to achieve the EFA goals” (See Flash info n° 116 and 118). Mr Matsuura highlighted in particular the importance of G8 commitment to EFA for the greater fulfilment by donors of their 2005 pledges to increase development assistance. UNESCO, he said, “will continue to advocate that an adequate proportion of this new aid is directed to basic education, in particular in countries with the greatest EFA needs”.

Building on this high-level support, the Education Sector has already begun a new series of high-level consultations aimed at ensuring strong collective ownership of the Global Action Plan, and clear articulation of how it will be applied by EFA partners at country level. The aim, Mr Matsuura said, is to present to the 6th meeting of the EFA High-Level Group in Cairo on 14-16 November, “a sharper and more targeted version of the Plan, with clear timelines for action”.

The Director-General’s efforts to stimulate greater collective commitment and harmonized cooperation in EFA both draw on and exemplify the larger processes of UN reform. “The aims are the same: greater coherence and coordination across the system for more effective delivery of services to Member States”, Mr Matsuura underlined.

Mr Matsuura then proceeded to inform Permanent Delegates of several other recent EFA events, as well as of UNESCO’s plans for the forthcoming months. He drew attention to the success of the 7th meeting of the EFA Working Group in July (Flash info n°119), and also to the strategic importance of the special event on EFA progress in Least Developed Countries (LDCs), held at UN Headquarters on 13 September. The Director-General also lauded Laura Bush’s initiative to hold the first-ever White House Conference on Global Literacy, in New York on 18 September (Unescopress n°2006-119). This meeting, the Director-General said, “has given fresh momentum to the global literacy drive” and “raised awareness of the importance of literacy to building stable and prosperous societies”. UNESCO will build on this new impetus through the organization in 2007-2008 of a series of high-level Regional Literacy Conferences, the first of which, for the Arab region, will be hosted in Qatar from 12 to 14 March 2007, by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education.

The Director-General furthermore provided an update on plans for the 6th High-Level Group Meeting in Cairo, which will give special focus to issues of aid delivery and alternative financing mechanisms, as well as the need to establish the closer articulation of education and economic policies at the country and regional levels. “It is clear that education and economic development must be discussed together”, Mr Matsuura said, going on to note that, “this is in the interests of both national stability and policy sustainability”. The financial and policy discussions of the High-Level Group will be closely informed by the 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report. In order to ensure more effective input, the launch of this year’s Report will be brought forward to 26 October, in New York. The launch will be marked by an international conference on early childhood care and education (ECCE), the main thematic focus of the 2007 Report.

Moving on to the subject of Education Sector Reform, the Director-General argued that its overall aim was to “strengthen UNESCO’s global action, and develop the management framework for a decentralized and results-oriented education programme that will enable UNESCO to fulfil its EFA mandate”.

In this context, the Director-General drew attention to three of the major elements of the current reform recommendations. First: the restructuring and realignment of all Headquarters Divisions in the Education Sector. “The new streamlined structure will provide a sharper focus to UNESCO’s functions and encourage joint action, thereby enabling the Organization to address more effectively Member States’ priorities”, Mr Matsuura said. Second: the professional reinforcement of Regional Bureaux for education, in order to strengthen the capacity and accountability of regional programme implementation. And third: the integration of the resources of Headquarters’ Divisions and the Institutes, to ensure better support to Regional Bureaux and Field Offices, and to strengthen UNESCO’s capacity to work more effectively with UN partners at country level.

The Director-General then passed the floor to the Assistant Director-General for Education, Peter Smith, who informed Delegates of how the Global Action Plan and the Education Sector Reform were serving to strengthen UNESCO’s substantive programmatic work in the field, as well as the Organization’s global coordinating, standard-setting, clearinghouse and advocacy roles.

These remarks were followed by a wide-ranging discussion with Permanent Delegates on various aspects of UNESCO’s work in EFA. Particular attention was given to the need to increase resource mobilization for basic education, and to UNESCO crucial advocacy role in underlining the importance of education to economic prosperity and to meeting the needs of today’s emerging knowledge societies.

  • Auteur(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash info n°142-2006
  • 22-09-2006
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