24 February 2010
Hopes for achieving universal primary education by 2015 are fading as the Education For All High Level Group (EFA-HLG) meet this week. The world is facing a US$12 billion a year funding shortfall in donor aid, and many developing country governments need to do more, according to the Global Campaign for Education (GCE).
Commenting on the EFA High Level Group meeting taking place from 23-25 February in Addis Ababa, the GCE said that with donor commitments to basic education having stalled; most G8 donors falling far short of giving their fair share of the EFA financing gap, and with aid being skewed away from those countries that need it most, urgent attention is needed to avert the brewing crisis for the EFA movement. However, a GCE ‘report card’ on the HLG calls into question its ability to hold governments accountable for delivery.
The EFA goals were adopted in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar, one of these being to provide free and compulsory primary education for all by 2015. The EFA High Level Group was then created as the core mechanism to continue to leverage support from the global community. But according to UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report released last month much is far off track. It stated that 72 million children were out of school in 2007 and that 56 million would still be out of school by 2015 if funding trends remained the same.
The report also highlighted that around 54 percent of children out of school are girls; that literacy remains among the most neglected of all education goals, with about 759 million adults lacking literacy skills, two-thirds women; that millions of children are leaving school without acquiring basic skills, and that 1.9 million new teacher posts will be required to meet universal primary education by 2015.
“It is estimated that it will cost US$16 billion a year to achieve universal primary education and wider Education for All goals by 2015,” said Kailash Satyarthi, GCE President. “This figure is just two percent of the amount mobilised to bail out four banks in the UK and US. Urgent international measures are needed as the countdown to the EFA deadline really gets underway, and to date the High Level Group has not served as an effective forum for reviewing donor commitments.”
The GCE, which has participated actively in the High Level Group since its inception, said that while the HLG could play a crucial role in the overall EFA architecture, it has been hampered by a number of key structural and organisational issues. These include lack of participation from donor ministers, loose agendas, limited transparency in performance benchmarking, and the absence of an implementation mechanism, resulting in a lack of action.
Mr Satyarthi added: “At this pivotal moment, we need a global system fit-for-purpose of driving an ambitious and high-profile effort to put education back at the top of the global political agenda. It is increasingly clear that the recommendations of the High Level Group do not carry enough weight to ensure their implementation.”
The GCE has put forward a number of recommendations, including a call for a root-and-branch review of the High Level Group to be conducted by the UNESCO Director-General, and for a vigorous effort to re-engage the Heads
of the EFA agencies during 2010, to garner their support for a reformed, renewed and re-launched High Level Group in 2011.