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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the education for all movement?
The Education for All (EFA) movement was born in 1990 when participants at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand pledged to provide primary education for all children and massively reduce adult illiteracy by the end of the decade. 
Ten years after, more than 1,100 participants from 164 countries – teachers, researchers, government ministers and heads of major international organizations – gathered in Dakar, Senegal for the World Education Forum to review the progress made since Jomtien and to reaffirm the vision of education for all by 2015. At the closing of the conference, the participants adopted the Dakar Framework of Action, a collective commitment to action where governments acknowledged the need to ensure that EFA goals and targets are reached and sustained through broad-based partnerships and co-operation with regional and international agencies and institutions.

Which countries from Asia and the Pacific participated in the World Education Forum?
The following countries participated in the World Education Forum: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Vanuatu and Viet Nam. Within the region, these countries represent member-states of UNESCO.  

What were the specific goals set in Dakar?
(i)expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children;
(ii)ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality;
(iii)ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes;
(iv)achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults;
(v)eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality;
(vi)improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills

Who should act to meet these goals?
Although education for all is everybody’s business - governments, international agencies, donors, and NGOs and civil society - the prime responsibility for achieving these goals lies with countries. This is stipulated in the Dakar Framework for Action which also assigned the international community to launch a global initiative to develop strategies and mobilize resources to support national efforts. UNESCO was charged with coordinating the work of the EFA partners and to sustain the global momentum.

Is there progress toward the Dakar goals in Asia and the Pacific?
Only partially. Over the past decade, the Asia and the Pacific region has made some progress in achieving EFA objectives. In East, South-East Asia and the Pacific, children are increasingly benefiting from early childhood care and education: participation in pre-primary education has improved over the last decade in most countries with data, particularly in Cambodia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. But the average net enrolment ratio in East, South-East and the Pacific has slightly dropped to 94 per cent in 2001 from 96 per cent in 1998 and 1996. Consequently, the number of out-of-school children of primary school age increased from 7.8 million in 1998 to nearly 12 million three years later. In the majority of countries with data, adult literacy rates were above 90 per cent in 2002. Illiteracy was still widespread, however, in countries including Cambodia and the Lao PDR, where less than 70 per cent of the population aged 15 and above could read and write.
In Central Asia, gross enrolment ratios in pre-primary education remain low at under 22 per cent in half the countries of the region in 2001. But school retention is generally high, with survival rates to the last grade of primary education in 2001 at 95 per cent or above in most countries.
In half of the countries with data in South and West Asia, gross enrolment ratios in pre-primary education is under 26 per cent as of 2001. The sub-region also continues to have the lowest literacy rates in the world. In 2002, only 58 per cent of the population aged 15 and above could read and write.
Overall, the Asia and the Pacific region is still far from the EFA goals set at the Jomtien Conference and the challenge remains of expanding access to quality basic education to include marginalized groups such as the poor, women and girls, and ethnic minorities.


Where do these figures come from?
The EFA 2000 Assessment, launched in 1998 took stock of the status of basic education in 180 countries and evaluated the progress achieved during the 1990s. The most in-depth evaluation of basic education ever undertaken, the EFA 2000 Assessment results were presented at the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in April 2000. Since then, participating countries have annually submitted education data for continuous monitoring of EFA targets and goals.

What are the shortcomings and what can be done to address them?
While the global struggle for education for all continues, tens of millions of children in Asia are left behind, outside the classroom. Pockets of inequality exist and are far too common throughout the region. In order to achieve universal primary education, governments must actively seek out all children for inclusion in quality education. In order to do so, assessments of education disparities are necessary to identify the un-reached targets and groups.
Four years on from Dakar, it has become clear that there is a very limited methodical understanding of the learning and life skills programmes in the region. A systematic approach must be taken to map this complex yet crucial area of education.
It is also essential to promote literacy across the full range of purpose, contexts, languages and modes of acquisition which communities of learners identify for themselves. Initiatives cannot be prescriptive but instead must be responsive, allowing learners to design literacy strategies for their own situations.

Who is responsible for monitoring EFA now?
Each signatory of the Dakar Framework for Action is responsible for monitoring EFA progress in their own national context.  Data collected on an annual basis is submitted to the EFA Observatory, housed and managed by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.  Within the region, the AIMS unit supports EFA monitoring and evaluation through statistical capacity building programmes in the education sector. 

What is the role of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in the EFA initiative?
As the Regional Bureau for Education, UNESCO Bangkok supports the coordination, planning, implementation and monitoring of EFA.  A staff of education specialists in all areas of EFA are active in back stopping national activities and implementing regional programmes in all facets of the global effort.  The Regional Bureau chairs an interagency working group on EFA and participates actively in flagship activities and related development initiatives (Millennium Development Goals, United Nations Development Assistance Framework/Common Country Assistance, Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme, etc.). 

How do these aims fit in with other global development goals?
Emanating from the Millennium Declaration, the eight Millennium Development Goals bind countries to do more and join forces in the fights against poverty, illiteracy, hunger, lack of education, gender inequality, child and maternal mortality, disease and environmental degradation. The International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank and the United Nations have pledged to work together towards these aims, two of which coincide with those set in Dakar: elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005 and enrolment of all children in primary school by 2015.

Why should Dakar succeed where Jomtien failed?
First, the climate has changed. The international community has become more determined. During the 1990s, education was finally acknowledged as a right and its importance for social and economic development stressed, civil society began to play a more active role and non-governmental organizations became more outspoken. A momentum was thus created. This momentum must now be nurtured and transformed into political will and action on the ground.
Second, Dakar addressed the issue of funding and pledged that "no country seriously committed to basic education will be thwarted in the achievement of this goal by lack of resources." Resource mobilization and management are now at the heart of the education debate and a global initiative is being developed to provide a framework for co-operation between countries and development and donor agencies.
Third, the notion of accountability built into the Dakar Framework for Action is another encouraging factor. The EFA Observatory’s reporting on progress will be invaluable in providing early warning signals.

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