Monday, October 01, 2007


The Director General of UNESCO prepared the following progress report on the education program in preparation for the upcoming meeting of the Executive Board:
Halfway towards the 2015 target date for achieving education for all (EFA), UNESCO has
given renewed impetus to its global coordination role, notably through the ongoing development of the EFA Global Action Plan, the resequencing of the main EFA mechanisms, and the establishment of an International Advisory Panel on EFA. At country level, the continued expansion of the UNESCO Education Support Strategy (UNESS) process is helping to improve the alignment of UNESCO’s work with country needs, while the Organization’s three EFA flagship initiatives are providing support in an increasing number of Member States in the priority areas of literacy, HIV and AIDS and teacher training.

In close collaboration with the two Deputy Assistant Directors-General for Education and the Education Sector Leadership Team, the Director-General has been actively managing the followup of the decisions related to the Education Sector reform, making all necessary adjustments to improve their effectiveness. The Education Staff Seminar held in Paris in June enabled staff members to become more closely involved in the implementation of some key reform decisions.The next benchmark for the reform’s implementation will be the preparation of the 34 C/5 work plans. It is at this stage that the new MLA structure and the process associated with accountable decentralization will go into effect. Regional bureaux are already exercising their new functions by guiding the work-planning process in their regions and assuring the quality of the activities proposed for the next biennium.

Following a rigorous recruitment process, the Director-General has appointed Mr Nicholas Burnett to the post of Assistant Director-General for Education. Mr Burnett will take up his responsibilities on 27 September. Having worked for nearly two decades at the World Bank before joining UNESCO in 2004 as Director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report, he brings to the position extensive knowledge of basic education, especially of education for all and in particular in Africa. His appointment will assure continuity in the implementation of the Education Sector’s objectives, above all UNESCO’s steadfast commitment to EFA, as well as the decisions related to the Education Sector reform.

Since the last Executive Board, the EFA Global Action Plan (GAP) has been more clearly and strongly linked with the wider mechanisms of United Nations reform, UNESS and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Progress has also been made in the process of applying the GAP at country level. As of August 2007, a strategy has been developed proposing criteria for the first countries where the GAP will be applied. The strategy puts a premium on building strong and effective partnerships through a joint situation analysis of country-level coordination, a clarification of respective responsibilities among agencies and a harmonizing of approaches and actions.

In order to give greater strategic focus and coherence to the EFA movement, and in
response to the request by the 33rd session of UNESCO’s General Conference, the sequence of key annual EFA events has been re-organized. An advance copy of the EFA Global Monitoring Report will now be made available to the EFA Working Group, which this year is scheduled to meet in Paris from 13 to 14 November. This will enable the Working Group to distil the report’s findings into strategic policy recommendations for consideration by the EFA High-Level Group, thereby facilitating the latter’s deliberations and providing for a more focused and action-oriented agenda. The 2007 EFA High-Level Group will take place in Dakar, Senegal, from 11 to 13 December. The 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report will be officially released on 5 December, with a major launch planned for 12 December in Dakar, alongside the seventh High-Level Group meeting. This report will provide an overall review of progress towards the six EFA goals.

The Director-General has set up an International Advisory Panel (IAP) on EFA to support the resequencing of meetings, maintain and enhance momentum on EFA, and provide a structured year-round consultation and follow-up process among the main EFA partners. The IAP comprises the four main EFA constituencies: developing countries; donors; multilateral agencies; and civil society, including the private sector. It has so far met twice, at UNESCO Headquarters (21 May 2007) and at Georgetown University, Washington DC (20 September 2007), with subsequent meetings planned in association with the EFA Working Group and High-Level Group events later in the year.

UNESCO has consistently emphasized the close relationship between achieving EFA and reaching other development objectives, in particular the Millennium Development Goals. The Director-General organized a ministerial round table breakfast during the ECOSOC high-level segment in Geneva, focused on exploring ways to strengthen education’s role in poverty eradication. During the 34th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, a ministerial round table will be held on “Education and economic development” (19 and 20 October) to address strategies for reinforcing these linkages still further.

As part of its lead coordinating role, UNESCO convened the fourth meeting of the Collective Consultation of Non-Governmental Organizations on Education for All (CCNGO/EFA) in Dakar, Senegal, from 3 to 5 September 2007. Participants called for: strengthened capacity for evidencebased advocacy at all levels; scaling up the broad-based movement to include all civil society organizations; and greater awareness-raising of education- and child-related rights. Efforts to harness and help deliver private sector contributions to achieving EFA have been enhanced through the UNESCO-World Economic Forum (WEF) initiative “Partnerships for Education” (PfE). A workshop was held in Geneva in June to identify principles and models for successful multistakeholder partnerships for education (MSPEs). The workshop also provided input for a comprehensive review and database of MSPEs, to be completed in November 2007 and launched at the WEF annual meeting in Davos in January. Progress has further been made in developing a strategy on awareness-raising and advocacy for MSPEs.

UNESCO is coordinating regional EFA Mid-Term Reviews with a view to both monitoring progress towards the EFA goals and strengthening national capacity in data collection and analysis. Within this context, UNESCO/Santiago presented to Ministers of Education at the Second Intergovernmental Meeting on the Regional Project of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (PRELAC II, Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2007) an assessment of the region’s progress towards EFA. The Dakar Pole and UNESCO/BREDA launched in September in Bamako the report on “Dakar+7: Africa’s Achievements and Challenges in EFA”. The regional review for Asia and the Pacific has been led by the Assessment, Information System, Monitoring and Statistic Unit (AMIS), a joint programme of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Regional Office and the Regional Bureau for Education. This assessment includes subregional syntheses, a regional report and sub-regional thematic studies on “reaching the unreached”.

With respect to UNESCO’s country-level action, the UNESCO Education Support Strategy
(UNESS) process is instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness and relevance of the Organization’s education programme in response to Member States’ needs and priorities. It is helping UNESCO position itself strategically in the “Delivering as One” approach, improve alignment with national education policies and strategies, and work in closer synergy with other development partners, including United Nations organizations, financial institutions and bilateral donors. The overarching aim is to include an education component into each common United Nations programming document at the country level in response to national development priorities. To that end, the UNESS planning tool can serve as a basis for developing, in collaboration with all relevant United Nations organizations in country, common United Nations education strategies and joint programmes.

The 11 first-round Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) countries have undertaken a range of activities including research, advocacy, communication, partnership-building, and capacity-building for policy development and delivery of good-quality literacy programmes. The 11 second-round countries will start preparatory activities after the General Conference. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) has reviewed and refined the LIFE strategy to reflect new data and facilitate implementation by countries. A monitoring and evaluation strategy was also prepared during a workshop from 9 to 10 July in Hamburg with participants from different LIFE countries.

As part of a major global effort to mobilize international support for literacy, and within the context of LIFE and the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD), UNESCO has held the second and third of a series of UNESCO regional conferences in support of global literacy. Participants include first ladies, education ministers, policy-makers, civil society and private sector representatives, academics, education professionals and staff of bilateral and multilateral organizations. The Regional Conference on “Addressing Literacy Challenges in East Asia, South-East Asia and the Pacific: Building Partnerships and Promoting Innovative Approaches” took place in Beijing, China, on 31 July and 1 August 2007. The third regional conference on “Renewing Literacy to Face African and International Challenges” was held in Bamako from 10 to 12 September. UNESCO’s main celebration for International Literacy Day was held within the framework of this conference and marked by the awarding of the 2007 International Literacy Prizes. From 29 to 30 November 2007, India will host in New Delhi the fourth regional conference for South, South-West and Central Asia. Two further conferences are scheduled for 2008: in Costa Rica in May for Latin America and the Caribbean; and in Azerbaijan in September, as a wrap-up event. Further information on the implementation of UNLD is provided in document 177 EX/8.

The Teacher Training Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) was launched in January 2006 from 17 pilot countries. Meetings, seminars and workshops have been organized by UNESCO and national coordinators have been appointed in conjunction with the authorities of 17 countries. A meeting, attended by national officials and partners in the initiative, is to be held at UNESCO Headquarters from 6 to 9 November 2007 in order to evaluate TTISSA’s first two years, which will make it possible to identify new lines of emphasis under the initiative for 2008-2009 in terms of both logistics (number of countries, financial and human resources, maintenance of coordinators and so on) and its operational scope (level of decentralization, distribution of tasks and responsibilities, projects, activities and so on).

Significant progress has been made in improving Member States’ ability to implement education responses to HIV and AIDS through the UNESCO-led UNAIDS Global Initiative on Education and HIV and AIDS (EDUCAIDS). This has been achieved by strengthening the capacity of in-country and international stakeholders, developing the Organization’s ability to tap into country-level funding, and reinforcing its field presence. To enhance UNESCO’s work in countries where it does not have a regular presence, part of its $10.6 million allocation through the UNAIDS Unified Budget and Workplan (UBW) for the 2008-2009 biennium will be used to establish four UNESCO regional AIDS advisers. Located in Bangkok, Johannesburg, Moscow and Santiago, these advisers will help deliver technical support and services to Member States, and link up with other UNAIDS co-sponsors in support of joint programming and strengthened United Nations coordination. UNESCO and UNHCR recently released a joint publication on Educational Responses to HIV and AIDS for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: Discussion Paper for Decision-Makers, which focuses on the key components of Education Sector responses to HIV and AIDS in emergencies and reconstruction.

A major cross-cutting aspect to all of the Education Sector’s work is fostering South-South cooperation. To give greater focus to action in this area, UNESCO is developing in collaboration with the Group of 77 and China a South-South cooperation programme. A Special Account for managing funds donated to this programme is being created. The Government of India generously provided a first donation. Additional funds have been earmarked from China’s contribution to UNESCO for South-South cooperation, and recently the Kingdom of Morocco pledged its financial support. Guinea, Malaysia and Togo have also indicated their intention to contribute. Supplementary funding is being allocated from the Sector’s regular budget to South-South cooperation pilot projects. Each regional bureau has developed and proposed a pilot project for immediate implementation. In the field of higher education and research, South-South cooperation is being strengthened through the new strategic direction given to the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme. More than 20 new Chairs/UNITWIN Networks have been established since the last Executive Board session, with the South-South or North-South-South dimension being augmented in their research and training activities.

From 13 to 14 September 2007, UNESCO held in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of
Tanzania, the Third Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications, an important complement to efforts to promote international cooperation and exchange. Drawing together over 140 participants representing key stakeholders in higher education, the 2007 event focused on “Learners and New Higher Education Spaces: Challenges for quality assurance and the recognition of qualifications”. It promoted global dialogue and policy debate on these issues and presented tools to inform the education choices of students and other stakeholders.

In 2009, UNESCO will hold the World Conference on Higher Education+10 (WCHE+10).
Bringing together representatives of the academic community, decision-makers and other key stakeholders, this event will provide an opportunity both to review national, regional and global developments since the WCHE in 1998, and to define the challenges and perspectives for the future. The preparatory process will begin with a series of regional meetings aimed at providing for policy discussions that are action-oriented and relevant to country needs.

UNESCO’s action in support of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development has focused on consultation, coordination and advocacy. The Organization is working together with the DESD Monitoring and Evaluation Experts Group (MEEG) to prepare the Global Framework for the monitoring and evaluation of DESD and a set of indicators. The MEEG held its second meeting from 19 to 21 September 2007 in conjunction with the second meeting of the DESD Reference Group, which brings together leading ESD experts from around the world. This meeting strengthened dialogue between ESD and EFA, with attention focused on identifying mechanisms to enhance synergies and linkages at country level and with the DESD Mid-Decade Review process. Further details on progress under the UNDESD is given in document 177 EX/9.

As part of efforts to develop innovative mechanisms for financing EFA, UNESCO and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Argentina co-hosted the second meeting of the Working Group on Debt Swaps for Education in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 12 to 13 July 2007. The main purpose of the meeting was to further exchange lessons learnt on debt swaps for education, formulate guidelines for their future use, and discuss the Working Group’s draft report to be submitted to UNESCO’s Director-General. The Director-General will bring the Working Group’s findings and recommendations to the attention of UNESCO’s General Conference, in particular the Ministerial Round Table on Education and Economic Development, as well as to the EFA Working Group and High-Level Group and other relevant fora.

Over the past six months, UNESCO has given specific attention to addressing violence – both violence in schools and in the form of targeted attacks against the education system – as a major obstacle to achieving EFA. From 27 to 29 June 2007, an experts meeting was convened at Headquarters on “Stopping Violence in Schools: What Works?”. The meeting produced a number of recommendations in whose implementation UNESCO can play a fundamental role including the pooling of research findings for data dissemination, research and awareness-raising of the costs and consequences of school violence, and the sharing of good practices. In late April, UNESCO launched the study “Education under attack”, which highlights the increase of violent attacks on education personnel, students, institutions and premises. Symposia have been held in Paris and Geneva, with a third meeting planned in New York in November. These events aim to improve understanding of the reasons behind these attacks and identify prevention strategies.

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