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close this bookMeeting Basic Learning Needs: A Vision for the 1990s (UNICEF - UNDP - UNESCO - WB - WCEFA, 1990, 170 p.)
close this folder3. An Expanded Vision of Basic Education for All
close this folderB. Requirements for Implementing the Vision
View the document(i) Developing a supportive policy context
View the document(ii) Mobilization of resources
View the document(iii) Strengthening international solidarity

(i) Developing a supportive policy context

By itself, basic education can help meet the intrinsic needs of learners, assist them to meet other basic human needs, and promote social and economic development. However, these latter two effects cannot be achieved in isolation of other public efforts. The knowledge and skills concerning health and nutrition, for example, are effective only when the concomitant resources and means are provided. Without a primary health delivery system, access to water, or availability of necessary foods, knowledge and skill alone will be insufficient.

Similarly, it is not adequate to orient education to prepare people for employment. Government and private enterprise must institute the appropriate rules, incentives, and support that will encourage wider demand for educated labour and more efficient utilization of it. More broadly, the effects of basic education are determined by the interaction of the full complex of government and private sectors - such diverse activities as agricultural pricing, political participation, entrepreneurial regulation, cultural practices, and infrastructure development all help determine the usefulness of the education individuals receive. The planning and management of education must consider the full range of learning opportunities needed and relate them to the full range of other government and private activities necessary to make the learning opportunities effective.

Supportive policies in the social, cultural, and economic spheres are required in order to realize the full provision and utilization of basic education for individual and societal improvement. Attaining basic education for all depends on political will and commitment manifested in appropriate fiscal measures, educational policy reforms and institutional strengthening. Suitable economic, trade, labour, employment and health policies will provide incentives for learners and enhance their contributions to societal development. Similarly, public policy should ensure a strong intellectual and scientific environment for basic education. This implies improving higher education, developing scientific research, and utilizing them to enrich the content and methods of basic education, particularly through the application of contemporary technological and scientific knowledge.

(ii) Mobilization of resources

To respond to the unmet learning needs, new resources will have to be sought from three sources: (1) a broader governmental base of support; (2) an increased financial effort from expanded participation by nongovernment agencies, communities, families, and individuals; and (3) assistance from external funding agencies. This entails identifying and drawing on the support of government, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, local communities, and families. In most countries, all of these play some part in financing basic education - from government’s formal taxation and expenditure activities to the family’s sacrifice of labour so that the child can attend schools or the adult can acquire new skills.

A broader base of government support can be achieved by mobilizing the resources of all government agencies that deal with some aspect of human development. Agencies responsible for agriculture, health, labour, defense, commerce, industry, and other development activities can be encouraged to make specific allocations within their own budgets to support basic education activities. Whether by developing new sources of revenue (for example, taxes earmarked for basic education) or reallocating funds from other sectors or within the education sector, government will need to take the lead in expanding new basic learning opportunities.

Government resources alone will not be sufficient, however, to meet effectively the basic learning needs of all groups. Greater participation by nongovernmental organizations, communities, families, and individuals is needed. Examples of these forms of participation include support provided by local community organizations, employers, labour unions, co-operatives, voluntary organizations, and religious bodies. Often, existing programmes or services can be reoriented or enlarged to include an educational component or to support ongoing education and training activities. In some cases, facilities and materials can be produced by volunteers or donated. This diversification of participation also can encourage the broad commitment needed to ensure that society gives a real priority to meeting the basic learning needs of all, and thereby investing in its future.

In many cases, no matter how well a country mobilizes and allocates its resources, it still will not be able to meet the basic learning needs of the entire population. Because of their disadvantageous conditions, the least economically developed countries will not immediately have the capacity to supply the necessary quantity and diversity of learning opportunities. Only external assistance, of a significant amount and sustained over time, can meet the resource needs for basic learning in these countries. The long-term return on this investment, and the goal of external assistance, will be the eventual development of each country’s self-sufficiency in providing basic education.

(iii) Strengthening international solidarity

Meeting basic learning needs constitutes a common and universal human responsibility, requiring international solidarity and cooperation. All nations have valuable knowledge and experience to share in this field and much to gain in doing so. International consultation and co-operative action regarding basic education through the many existing structures and institutional arrangements need to be intensified.

The prospects for meeting basic learning needs around the world are determined in part by the dynamics of international relations and trade. A stable and peaceful international environment will facilitate socio-economic development and hence the prospects for expanding basic learning opportunities. All nations must continue to work together to resolve armed conflicts and to end military occupations. The world community has a particular responsibility to settle displaced populations or to facilitate their return to their countries of origin and ensure that their basic learning needs are met.

With the current relaxation of tensions and the decreasing number of armed conflicts, there are now real possibilities to reduce the tremendous waste of military spending and to shift those resources into socially useful areas, including basic education. The world community and individual governments need to plan this conversion of resources for peaceful uses with courage and vision, and in a thoughtful and careful manner.

To achieve education for all, substantial and longterm increases in resources for basic education will be needed. While most of these resources must necessarily come from within each country, the world community will need to act through multilateral and bilateral agencies to alleviate the constraints and deficiencies that prevent some countries from meeting the basic learning needs of their populations. The least economically developed and low-income countries have special needs which will require priority attention in international co-operative efforts during the 1990s.

Measures to reduce or eliminate current imbalances in trade relations and to reduce debt burdens will enable many low-income countries to rebuild their own economies and release and retain the human and financial resources needed for development and for providing basic education to their populations. In this connection, structural adjustment policies should protect appropriate funding levels for education.