Monitoring Report on Education for All, 2001
This report sets out to monitor progress that countries and agencies have
achieved towards the goal of EFA, as well as to highlight important trends and
findings and to point to future actions. It assesses the future effort required
in terms of additional school places, literacy campaigns, teacher training,
educational materials and so on, as well as the magnitude of the financial
gap that needs to be closed in order to achieve the goals and targets set for
The agenda of education for all
The World Education Forum, meeting in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000,
reaffirmed the vision of the World Conference on Education For All (Jomtien,
Thailand, 1990) that all children, young people and adults have the
'fundamental human right' to a basic education that will develop their talents,
improve their lives and transform their societies.
Representatives of 164 countries adopted the Dakar Framework for Action,
which laid out a set of time-bound goals and strategies for attaining the goal
of Education for All (EFA) by 2015.
Three fundamental operating assumptions underlie the strategies outlined in
the Dakar Framework:
-The heart of EFA activity lies at the national level.
- Partnerships are important.
- Governments need to co-ordinate their efforts with institutions of civil
Progress since Jomtien
Universal primary education
Considerable progress had been made in moving toward the goal of
universal primary education (UPE) and momentum has increased since
Dakar. Some countries have achieved dramatic progress. Nevertheless, this
progress has been uneven, and a major effort is needed to accelerate
current positive trends. There are still more than 100 million children out of
school, and 60% of these are girls.
Overall enrolment trends suggest that, over the last quarter-century,
considerable progress has been made in expanding the capacity of primary
school systems in all regions of the world. The total number of primary
school pupils rose from an estimated 500 million in 1975 to more than 680
million in 1998.
If this pace of increase were to continue, the number of pupils in the world's
primary schools could reach 700 million in 2005 and 770 million in 2015. If
realized, nearly all of this increased demand for school places would occur in
developing regions - in particular in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
For most developing countries, school enrolment growth of 5% per year over
the next 15 years would meet the EFA goal, but several countries would have
to grow at up to 10% annually. At least 32 countries, of which 11 are
experiencing conflict, are unlikely to meet the target of UPE by 2015, unless
a serious effort is made for these countries.
One region of particular concern is sub-Saharan Africa, where enrolment
would have to increase at almost three times the effort undertaken during
the period 1990-97.
Over the past decade the progress towards UPE was accompanied by the
reduction of gender gaps in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa. While the
gender disparity is not a serious concern in most of the Latin
America/Caribbean and Eastern Asia/Pacific countries, it remains one in many
Arab States, sub-Saharan African and Southern Asian countries. Importantly,
gender disparities are most pronounced in regions or countries with relatively
low enrolment rates.
Despite efforts since Jomtien, there are still more than 550 million female
and 300 male adult illiterates. The level of education of most adults in
developing countries remains too low to enable them to participate effectively
in the global economy. Reaching the goals set by Dakar would require an
annual increase of 92 million literate adults, or 1.3 times the pace of
previous efforts. New ways must be found to reinforce non-formal education
systems, especially in developing countries.
Progress in implementing the Dakar Framework
National plans of action
In requesting that countries 'develop or strengthen existing national plans of
action by 2002 at the latest', the Dakar Framework specified standards and
conditions for the development of such plans. It stressed that plans should
be integrated into a wider development and poverty reduction framework and
linked to Common Country Assessments and United Nations Development
To date, 66 countries and territories have responded to a UNESCO
questionnaire regarding their national plans for accomplishing EFA. Forty-one
countries indicated that they have such a plan, but the quality of such plans
varies widely. Many of the plans do not conform to EFA guidelines specifying
that governments should consult a wide variety of stakeholders in drawing up
their plan in order to tie them to overall national development plans.
Moreover, many of the plans are not linked to specific EFA goals such as the
elimination of gender gaps. Thirty-nine of the plans were prepared before
the Dakar Forum, in some cases more than 10 years before, and would need
to take note of current developments.
At least 48 of the 66 countries do not appear to have reliable capacities for
data collection, processing and/or analysis for preparing EFA action plans.
In all regions, EFA mechanisms are being set up to co-ordinate the
identification of needs, fund-raising, assistance to countries in the
development of national action plans and capacity-building of ministries of
education. In view of the capacity-building needs, especially in Africa and in
South Asia, it would be important to strengthen the technical capability of
Inter-Agency flagship programmes
Flagship Programmes have emerged that address some of the broad
objectives laid out in the Dakar Framework. These programmes bring
resources (knowledge and experience) to countries in the implementing of
their EFA plans. In key areas, such as HIV/AIDs prevention, school health
and girls' education, they are mechanisms for sharing what works and
contribute to developing quality education outcomes. They broaden the
range of programmes available for young people and contribute to
Most of the flagship programmes have been launched quite recently, and
thus are in the process of being disseminated. Nevertheless, forty-four
countries have thus far addressed issues in girls' education in their Common
Country Assessments, and twenty-two in their United Nations Development
Assistance Frameworks. Initiatives called Focusing Resources on Effective
School Health (FRESH), which include capacity-building for school health and
HIV/AIDS prevention through schools, have been launched in fourteen
sub-Saharan African countries.
Co-operation with civil society
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) made valuable contributions to the
Dakar Framework for Action, and representatives at the Forum committed
themselves to 'ensure the engagement and participation of civil society in
the formulation, implementation and monitoring of strategies for educational
development'. The Dakar Framework consequently emphasized that EFA can
be achieved only if it is supported by a broad-based movement that includes
civil society organizations (CSOs) ranging from NGOs to teachers' unions and
religious organizations. Because of their flexibility, innovation and closeness
to the grass roots, such organizations are uniquely qualified to reach
marginalized persons who may not be well served by traditional schools.
At regional and national levels, NGO networks have been strengthened and
new ones created. This post-Dakar networking has contributed to the
strengthening of NGOs, especially in Africa. These new and stronger networks
will give civil society a clearer and more recognizable profile and will enable
the expression of joint civil society positions.
Mobilizing resources for EFA
Achieving the ambitious but urgent goal of EFA will require the investment of
large amounts of new financial resources. A significant proportion of funding
must come from the individual countries themselves through, for example,
reallocation and the adoption of cost-effective measures to reach EFA goals.
However, most will also need considerable additional outside help.
The Dakar Framework calls for external assistance on a systematic basis in
the form of the creation of a 'global initiative' to fund the financial resources
necessary for the realization of the goal of EFA. This initiative has been
launched in a context of decreasing and softening donor contributions to
international development. Aid allocations have been on the decline in all
regions except for Europe, Central and East Asia and the Pacific during the
1990s. The trend for the least developed countries has been downward in
recent years. Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed the sharpest decline by
roughly one-third. Some of the major aid providers are responsible for some
of the largest reductions. Moreover, during the 1990s, non-concessional
funds gained importance over concessional disbursements.
Given the urgency of reaching the goals of EFA, this decline of contributions is
Major challenges that lie ahead
Funding the global initiative
Estimates of the cost of achieving UPE range from US$8 to $15 billion
annually. While these sums are significant, the key message is that UPE is
affordable. Moreover, there is evidence that, once an initial surge of
enrolments has moved through the system, developing countries should be
able to sustain such a system with declining external support.
While increased funding and the reversal of recent trends toward declining
official development assistance are necessary to accomplish the goals of EFA,
this will not be sufficient in and of itself. Other important objectives are to
assure greater predictability in the flow of external assistance and to provide
debt relief and/or cancellation.
Assessing and funding national plans of action
During 2002, most countries will still need to develop or adjust the existing
national plans of action to EFA objectives. And most developing countries
have indicated that they would require methodological and technical support
for the preparation of the EFA plans or the strengthening of existing plans.
Ways must be devised to provide countries with the technical and financial
assistance they need to develop national EFA plans of action. Criteria and
mechanisms must be established for reviews of these plans at the national,
sub-regional and regional levels.
Improved monitoring of EFA goals and targets
Progress toward EFA must be carefully measured. It is important to assist
developing countries in developing the capacity to assess progress toward
EFA, including the identification of inequalities within these nations. UIS
should be encouraged in its review of core indicators for EFA and to develop
indicators for early childhood care and education and non-formal education.
Better information must also be developed and disseminated on 'what works'
in various contexts.
Increased co-operation at the national level
Research over the past decade has consistently found that increased
education spending is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for
educational progress. Pragmatically, this means an end to 'business as
usual'. Attainment of the Dakar goals will require significant policy changes at
the national, regional and international levels and - perhaps most important
of all - a willingness of the various stakeholders to enter into new
partnerships, especially new relationships between government and civil