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Midway to the 2015 target date for achieving the Education for All goals, ministers, donors, and multilateral and civil society representatives committed to a set of actions for 2008 to reach excluded groups, improve education quality and increase the financing of basic education.

Meeting from 11 to 13 December in Dakar where the six Education for All goals were adopted in 2000, High-Level Group participants recognized that “we are now in a position to know better what works in basic education, but the current pace of progress is not sufficient to meet the 2015 target.”

To guide educational policies, the High-Level Group calls upon governments to precisely map the characteristics of excluded groups, strengthen the legislative framework on the right to education and cost out what is needed to reach marginalized groups effectively.

To promote quality, the Communiqué emphasizes three measures. First, countries must develop policies for training and recruiting large numbers of primary school teachers, with attention to their career development. Second, they must take a comprehensive approach by focusing on curriculum, pedagogy, gender equality, language of instruction, textbooks and adequate facilities. Third, policies are required to assure that children are ready for learning, calling for higher participation in early childhood care and education, and access to health and nutrition programmes in school.

Stating that domestic resourcing typically accounts for most of the education budget, the Communiqué calls on national governments to allocate 10% of their budgets to basic education.

Expressing concern at the decline in external aid to education in 2005 and of the annual external funding gap of US$11 billion, the group pledged “to work to maintain and increase levels of funding to education and basic education,” and to prioritize low-income, fragile, emergency and conflict-affected States.

At a time when global issues are competing for funds and exposure, the High-Level Group stressed the urgency of raising the profile of basic education on the international development agenda through key global and regional meetings in 2008 (e.g. the G8) and communication initiatives. The positive impact of basic education on public health and other international development goals must be consistently highlighted.

The High-Level Group is convened annually by UNESCO to generate new political and financial support in favour of the EFA goals. This seventh meeting was attended by the five convening agencies of the Dakar World Education Forum in 2000 (UNESCO, “UNDP“http://www.undp.org, UNICEF“http://www.unicef.org”, UNFPA", World Bank) plus the World Food Programme, education ministers from around the world, bilateral donors, representatives from civil society, the private sector and the next G-8 host country (Japan).

During the opening of the meeting, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal outlined his country’s efforts to expand access (15,000 new classrooms since 2000) and improve quality (national early childhood education programme, free distribution of textbooks, new teacher training colleges), while children from India, Colombia and Senegal, surrounded by hundreds of school children, called upon the High Level Group to “keep your promises to the world’s children”.

The Government of Norway will host the next High-Level Group on EFA in Oslo from 16 to 18 December 2008.


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