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Education Ministers commit to achieve Education for All
“It is very encouraging to see that some countries have made considerable progress,” said Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO.
“This tells us that it is possible to achieve the EFA goals through strong political will and financial support.”
Progress towards the EFA goals is uneven – across countries and in regards to the different goals. Remarkable advances have been made in primary school enrolment; many countries have a fair prospect to achieve universal primary education by 2015. However, progress towards the other goals has been much slower, notably early childhood care and education, youth and adult learning, vocational education and training, gender equality and literacy, as well as the quality of education.
Quality issues and marginalization remain major obstacles to education goals in developing and developed countries.
“Indeed, many population groups are still deprived of their right to quality basic education. African Ministers highlighted the difficulty to reach nomadic children, whereas in many Asian countries early marriage excludes girls from school,” Mr. Tang said.
In 2008, 67 million children were out of school and 17 percent of the world’s adult population lacked basic literacy skills.
“Less than four years are left before the 2015 target date, the current trend tells us that we are likely to miss the EFA goals – most of them by a wide margin,” Mr. Tang said.
Poor and rural households are among the most disadvantaged. Marginalized children, youth and adults are at risk of not getting a response to their basic learning needs – as the Jomtien vision had originally foreseen.
Progress towards EFA is thwarted by different types of disadvantages and discrimination, such as gender, income, location, nationality, disability, language, race and ethnicity.
Women and girls continue to face significant obstacles: nearly two-thirds of 796 million adults without basic literacy skills in 2008 were women. Gender stereotypes and disparities, especially at secondary level, reproduce social and economic injustices and impact disproportionately on girls’ capacity to earn wages and on their country’s overall progress in health and education. Furthermore, HIV&AIDS and persisting child labour prevent countries from achieving the EFA goals.
“The lack and inefficient use of financial resources is preventing many countries from attaining the EFA goals,” said Mr. Tang.
Participants firmly insisted on the need for a stronger focus on early childhood care and education, more and better qualified teachers, as well as reform of post-primary education, including technical and vocational training, and the need to concentrate more on all aspects of the quality of education. Minister of Education Mr. Chinaworn Boonyakiat of Thailand expressed in his closing statement the strong belief that all nations, including Thailand, will put all possible efforts to achieve the EFA goals.
“With serious efforts, strong will and determiniation, EFA achievement is not a far reach dream,” he said.
Organized by UNESCO and hosted by the Government of Thailand, the 10th High-Level Group on Education for All is comprised of Ministers of Education and International Cooperation, representatives of international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector across six continents.
The High Level Group discussions are reflected in the Statement adopted by the participants. This statement is a call for action to all governments and EFA partners to meet the goals they committed to. Meeting in Jomtien, just over twenty years after the 1990 World Conference on Education for All, has been a symbolic act renewing the initial spirit and commitment of the global community towards education.
This meeting sends a strong signal and will inspire countries, and donors alike, to increase their efforts in the next four years in order to reach the six EFA goals timely by 2015.
“Here in Jomtien, where delegates from 155 countries adopted the World Declaration on EFA almost 20 years ago, we reaffirm our commitments to achieve the EFA goals. Let us join hands and substantially scale up efforts to reach the EFA goals,” said Mr. Tang.