Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture

Director-General addresses meeting of the EFA International Advisory Panel

On 1 September 2009, the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, opened a meeting of the International Advisory Panel (IAP) on Education for All (EFA) at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris.

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 coherence and political momentum within the EFA movement. Membership of the panel has recently been expanded to ensure greater representation from counties of the South.

In his opening remarks, the Director-General paid tribute to members of the IAP for their work in helping drive forward EFA progress. “Since the Panel’s first meeting in 2007, you have served a very important advisory role to me, to UNESCO and to the EFA movement more broadly”, he said.

Mr Matsuura highlighted his ongoing efforts to strengthen UNESCO’s Education Sector so that it can fulfil effectively its lead coordinating role in EFA and boost support to Member States in key areas at the country level. He pointed out that the Sector would receive almost half of the 22 million nominal increase proposed in the revised draft programme and budget for 2010-2011 (35 C/5). “This increase will be used to reinforce UNESCO’s assistance to countries most at risk of not reaching the EFA goals by 2015, with a special focus on Africa”, he said. The Director-General also drew attention to recent institutional adjustments he had made to the Education Sector, including the decision to create a new Director post at D1 level for EFA at Headquarters. “Given these budgetary and structural reinforcements, I hope that the next biennium will see a significant increase in extrabugetary support to UNESCO. This is crucial to the Organization’s action in EFA”, he urged.

Turning to items on the IAP’s agenda, the Director-General noted that the Panel would evaluate progress achieved since the Oslo High-Level Group (HLG) meeting in December 2008, as well as preparations for the next Working Group (Paris, 9-11 December 2009) and HLG meetings (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 23-25 February 2010). “It is essential that the agendas of these events are linked, and provide for systematic follow-up of past commitments”, Mr Matsuura stated.

The Director-General emphasized that there had been important progress since Oslo, with the official establishment of the International Task Force on Teachers for EFA and determined efforts to reinforce collaboration among the five EFA convening agencies, in particular at the country level. Mr Matsuura recognized that the picture on the financing front was more mixed. While developing countries have made firm pledges to sustain investment in EFA, despite the current economic crisis, many lack the fiscal capacity to expand educational spending. The Director-General said that in this context external aid is crucial. However, he lamented the fact that despite firm pledges by the G20 and the G8 to help developing countries protect their education services, donors were still not giving enough priority to EFA in their aid budgets. “Sustaining domestic spending and increasing aid to the levels required to achieve EFA will require bold measures and real political determination”, Mr Matsuura underscored, stating that in this regard, the next EFA High-Level Group, and the consultative process leading up to it, would be pivotal.

“Taking place in 2010, just five years from the target date for achieving EFA and the Millennium Development Goals, the 9th High-Level Group meeting will be an important occasion to take stock of progress since Dakar, to define the key challenges that remain, and to identify what needs to be done to meet the 2015 deadline”, the Director-General said. As in previous years, the HLG meeting will be informed by the Education for All Global Monitoring Report. The new edition, entitled “Reaching the marginalized”, will be officially released in New York on 20 January 2010.

In conclusion, the Director-General underscored the important role of the Panel in maintaining collaborative momentum on EFA. “Fruitful dialogue and trust among education stakeholders is vital to achieving EFA, especially at this time of global crisis. It is only by ‘acting together’ that we can protect the gains made since 2000 and accelerate progress towards our common goals”, he said.

Following the Director-General’s opening remarks, many Panel members took the floor to pay tribute to Mr Matsuura’s steadfast commitment to the cause of EFA. Special reference was made to his success in raising the profile of EFA on the international development agenda, as witnessed by the renewed political commitment of the G8 to basic education. Panel members also praised the Director-General’s efforts to reenergize the E-9 initiative, to bolster support for Africa and to strengthen dialogue with civil society.

“Over the past ten years, I have been proud to have helped shepherd a new spirit of international collaboration in EFA. Since Dakar, EFA has become a truly multi-stakeholder endeavour. […] We have created solid foundations, which it will be important for the next Director-General to build upon and strengthen”, Mr Matsuura affirmed.

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Auteur(s): La Porte-parole - Source: Flash Info N° 151-2009 -  Date de publication: 01-09-2009

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