Sunday, December 19, 2004

UNESCO Progress in the Program for Education

UNESCO Progress Report for the 170th Exec Board Meeting (The meeting was in October, 2004. The next meeting is January 2005.)

PROGRAM I – EDUCATION: Overall assessment

"1. The achievement of education for all (EFA) – for all, at all levels, throughout life – is the core purpose of UNESCO’s Major Programme I (Education). In the 2004-2005 Programme, the first two subprogrammes and almost 80% of the budget are devoted to the principal priority “basic education for all”. Subprogramme I.1.1 deals directly with UNESCO’s actions aimed at contributing to the work of Member States as they advance towards achieving the six goals of the Dakar Framework for Action and the two related Millennium Development Goals. Subprogramme I.1.2 concerns support to national policies and plans for EFA and UNESCO’s mandated role regarding the global coordination of the EFA movement, with special attention to those countries where the need is greatest, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and among the E-9 countries. At the request of the 169th session of the Executive Board (169 EX/Decision 3.4.4) a strategic review of UNESCO’s post-Dakar role in EFA was carried out and a relevant document is accordingly presented to this session of the Board concerning future strategies (see document 170 EX/8). Considerable effort went into the organization of the fifth Meeting of the Working Group on EFA (Paris, 20-21 July 2004).

"2. The commitment made by the international community at Dakar that “no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources” first took practical, global form with the launching of the Fast-Track Initiative (FTI) in 2002. The Initiative was redesigned by the Donors Group meeting in Oslo (November 2003) and the Framework Agreement subsequently approved in Washington (March 2004), opening up FTI to all low-income countries. Implementation has begun and all the readily available funding to date for 2004 under the Catalytic Fund, also set up in Oslo, has been exhausted. Additional funds are being sought.

"3. The strategy for the implementation of the United States contribution to the reconstruction of education systems in post-conflict countries has started to be put into practice in four countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A mission composed of staff from Headquarters and institutes went to Liberia to identify needs for rebuilding the country’s education system, including teacher-training and HIV/AIDS education. (emphasis added)

"4. The first six months of the biennium has been a period of laying the groundwork that will allow the achievement of the expected results for the major programme. One very important event during the period followed on UNESCO’s invitation to the other co-sponsors of UNAIDS to jointly launch a global initiative on prevention education, aimed at an AIDS-free generation. Intended to protect the core functions of education against the onslaught of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the initiative will provide a resource for decision-making. It will also involve an expanded role for UNESCO.

"5. Girls’ education in sub-Saharan Africa received a major boost as the result of a policy consultation (Nairobi, Kenya, 22-25 June), organized in cooperation with the World Bank, UNICEF, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the African Development Bank and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), which brought together some 150 participants from 27 countries. The meeting resulted in increased political commitment and partnerships for scaling up effectively an identified set of good practices in girls’ education throughout the region. The importance of literacy for development and increased commitment to its inclusion in EFA plans has been enhanced through UNESCO’s leadership role in the United Nations Literacy Decade.

"6. Considerable progress has been made on two important developments that UNESCO is leading on behalf of the international community. The General Conference at its 32nd session called for UNESCO to develop an international convention against doping in sport. Two intergovernmental meetings (January and May) discussed the draft which has now been circulated to all Member States. As regards the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which will begin in January 2005, the international implementation scheme has been finalized for submission by the Director-General to the United Nations for approval at the 59th session of its General Assembly.

"7. In an event of high symbolic significance, the Director-General promoted the Olympic Truce during a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on 25 June, calling on all nations to observe the Truce during the Games of the XXVIIIth Olympiad (Athens, Greece, 13-29 August). He joined hands with an Israeli girl and a Palestinian boy as she passed the Olympic flame on to the young Palestinian.

"8. Secondary education is coming to be seen as more and more important for the achievement of the six Dakar goals. The fourth meeting of the Inter-agency Consultative Group on Secondary Education and Youth Affairs, led by UNESCO (Paris, 30 June-2 July) agreed on the need for strong advocacy on the importance of the extension and reform of secondary education to achieve the EFA goals. The 45 participants from United Nations agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and donor agencies also made concrete suggestions for the orientation of debates during the 47th International Conference on Education.

"9. UNESCO’s leading role in setting policies for promoting quality mechanisms at national level as means for sustainable higher education systems in the context of globalization and the emergence of cross-border higher education providers was reasserted at the Second Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications (Paris, 28-29 June 2004). The 250 participants, experts from over 80 countries and NGOs and IGOs, addressed the relevant issues in this area around the overarching theme “Widening Access to Quality Higher Education”. Results will eventually include reinforced legal instruments such as revised conventions on the recognition of qualifications, and UNESCO-OECD guidelines on quality in cross-border higher education.

"10. Integration between the programme activities of UNESCO’s six education institutes and the rest of the Sector, including the field offices, has continued to increase, as can be clearly seen in this Report from their contributions to the various main lines of action in Major Programme I, Education. A new brochure UNESCO and Education: Institutes and Centres clearly describes their roles. The International Bureau of Education has concentrated on organizing the 47th session of the International Conference on Education (ICE) on the theme “Quality education for all young people: Challenges, trends and priorities” (8-11 September 2004)."

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