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Assessing the EFA architecture to prepare for Education 2030

Unlike other regions, Asia-Pacific has had EFA coordination mechanisms prior to the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA) in 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand, the event that initiated the establishment of the global EFA architecture. It was in 1987, when UNESCO launched the Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All (APPEAL) to promote basic education for all in the region. After 2000, the programme was expanded to include the promotion of the six EFA goals. In parallel, the Thematic Working Group on EFA (TWG on EFA), was established after the international community reiterated its commitment to EFA in 2000 at the World Education Conference in Dakar. Although the TWG on EFA is linked to the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM)[1] - a UN wide inter-agency platform that is mandated by ECOSOC in Resolution 1998/46 and is one of the six thematic working groups under this mechanism, this particular TWG precedes the RCM and UN TWG mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific region. This working group is co-chaired by UNESCO and UNICEF and consists of UN partner agencies, international NGOs, civil society organizations and special interest groups. In this regard, the region had an established mechanism to support EFA activities before 1990 and an EFA coordination platform to build on prior to and shortly after the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000.

The Asia-Pacific EFA coordination arrangement was established to promote, support and coordinate EFA activities in the region. These mechanisms have played a key role in bringing EFA partners and stakeholders together in support of EFA and ensuring coordination, synergy and collaboration amongst various stakeholders. Many countries have created their own coordination mechanisms at the national level and in some cases even at the sub-national level. Different stakeholders, working groups and networks that are part of the EFA architecture in Asia-Pacific have been instrumental in providing technical backstopping to the Member States on many EFA related matters, in particular the recently completed review and monitoring of EFA progress in the region and support to the Asia and Pacific Regional Education Conference held in 2014 which led to a vision of education, Post 2015 in the region (The Bangkok Statement).

Over the past 15 years, a range of EFA processes and initiatives have emerged. In Asia-Pacific, several other coordination mechanisms and regional networks with varying focus and objectives supporting the larger goals of EFA and MDGs have been established over time (Multilingual Education Working Group – MLE WG and the Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood – ARNEC).  While an assessment of the global EFA architecture and its subsequent restructuring took place from 2011-2012, regional EFA mechanisms, including the one in Asia-Pacific, have not been systematically reviewed.

This leads us to the question of the relevance and effectiveness of the EFA coordination platform in Asia-Pacific and its capacity to support the future education agenda. Hence, there is a need to review and assess the current EFA architecture in the region and to explore ways to improve existing mechanisms and processes to support the next education agenda. In this regard, UNESCO Bangkok and the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) are commissioning an assessment of the EFA architecture in Asia-Pacific. This assessment will explore how these co-ordination mechanisms have contributed towards education development in the region and how they have interacted if at all with the EFA architecture. The assessment will explore how the EFA regional and national mechanisms have supported the national planning processes and how they are synergized with donor coordination mechanisms. The assessment will also examine how these regional and sub-regional bodies are collaborating with the global and regional EFA structures and explore future prospects for their potential involvement in the coordination, implementation and monitoring of the new education agenda.



[1] The RCM was established to improve coordination among the work programmes of United Nations entities at the regional level. The RCM is chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General and convened by the Executive Secretary of ESCAP. The RCM works by consensus and promotes increased cooperation and collaboration among UN entities and their development partners in addressing regional development issues. The RCM consists of two tiers: (1) executive-level meetings to interpret and implement policy-level consensus on opportunities for increased regional cooperation and (2) Thematic Working Groups to promote improved regional cooperation on specific operational and programmatic issues.