2011 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report Launch & 6th EFA National Forum
2011 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report Launch & 6th EFA National Forum was held from March 1st to March 2nd, 2011 at Minzu Hotel in Beijing, China. The forum was co-organized by Chinese National Commission for UNESCO，UNESCO Beijing Office and UNICEF China. The forum was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and its different provincial governments, officers from international organizations, and embassies, experts and practitioners from educational research institutes and universities.
The keynote speech titled “2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report—The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education—Global Findings” was given by Dr. Tang Qian, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO. He introduced the development of the Report and elaborated the process of EFA indicated in the 2011 Report.
Presentations on the development of EFA in China, the implementation of China’s National Plan for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020), the international framework of the enhancement and monitor of quality standards in regular education, the achievements of the international forum on the quality enhancement in education and the education for post-disaster reconstruction were given by different speakers from the government\international organizations and institutes.
Introduction of the 2011 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report
The report is divided into two parts. Part I reviews the state of education around the world. It identifies advances, setbacks and a range of policy interventions that could help to accelerate progress of EFA. To be more specific, this part examines the six EFA targets and financial issues. Part II turns to one of the greatest barriers facing the EFA goals: armed conflict in the poorest countries around the world.
The six EFA goals are: 1) Early childhood care and education; 2) Universal primary education; 3) Youth and adult learning needs; 4) Improving levels of adult literacy; 5) Assessing gender parity and equality in education; 6) The quality of education. The past decade has witnessed extraordinary progress towards the EFA goals in some of the poorest countries in the world. For example, child mortality rates have been falling worldwide since 1999 and the early childhood welfare is improving. There has been an increase in the number of children who could get access to pre-primary education and primary education. In addition, the demand for secondary and high education is rising across the developing world and the access to secondary education has been improved. However, despite these positive developments, there is still a very large gap between the EFA goals and the limited advances that have been made. With regard to the early childhood care and education, wide disparities remain in child mortality rates among different countries. The rate of progress in increasing enrollment in pre-primary education has been uneven. What is worse is that the lack of nutrition and food security has a negative impact on children’s cognitive development. Though there has been a rapid progress towards the goal of universal primary education since 1999, the school dropout rate is still high and the pace of progress in getting more children into school has varied widely across regions. Such a situation is caused by the low quality of education and unequal access to educational opportunities. In terms of secondary and tertiary education, again, large regional gaps could be found. In addition, youth unemployment has been increasing sharply, and there is mismatch between skills and jobs. Hence, for rich countries, there is a need for innovations in order to improve efficiency at work and narrow the gap between high-skill and low-skill areas. The progress in the participation in primary, secondary and tertiary education leads to the decrease in the number of adults lacking literacy. Illiteracy is declining, but not fast enough. Gender disparities still exist in different stages of education in many countries, and gender imbalances in education are transmitted directly to job markets. Education for All relates not only to “quantity”, but also to “quality”. Unfortunately, students’ learning achievement varies widely across and within countries, and it is found out household circumstances weigh heavily on differences in learning outcomes.
In order to achieve success in the six EFA goals, it is necessary and significant to increase financing for education. Public spending on education is a vital investment in national prosperity and has a crucial bearing on progress towards the EFA goals. However, the global economic crisis is constraining countries’ efforts to finance EFA. International aid could help reduce the constraints and sustain progress, but donors have failed to step up to the plate.
In conflict-affected countries, the armed conflict holds back the overall progress in education and becomes a barrier to EFA. There are failures at the heart of the hidden crisis in education—in protection, provision, reconstruction and peace building. In order to correct these failures, efforts could be made in these four areas. Firstly, protection of human rights should be strengthened. Next, to provide education to children caught up in conflict is of great importance. Thirdly, education can be a pivotal part of the reconstruction process. And early recovery and reconstruction could bridge the humanitarian divide. Last but not least, it is vital to exploit the potential for education to act as a force for peace.