|The Challenge of Universal Primary Education - Strategies for Achieving the International Development Targets (DFID, 2001, 49 p.)|
|4. Meeting the challenge|
4.53 The governments and civil societies of developing countries face immense challenges in attaining Education for All targets. For many, meeting these challenges will continue to require the strategic support of the international community36, the major strengths of which are the financial resources and the comparative knowledge which can be brought to bear to help define and assist the implementation of national education programmes. The priorities set out above should strongly inform the thinking of international organisations and agencies, including DFID. However, there are a further two key priorities which need to be addressed specifically by the international community.
36 The concept of international community includes governments and institutions from the North and the South, international financial institutions, multilateral development organisations and bilateral funding agencies. The many representatives of civil society and international NGOs, business interests, including corporations with the potential to bring the benefits of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to education, religious bodies, academic communities and the global public at large: all play or have the potential to perform important roles in achieving UPE. This is a broad community which cuts across the developed and developing worlds.
Priority 11: Increased development resources and new and more effective ways of deploying them
Financing Education for All
4.54 As set out under Priority 1, achieving and sustaining UPE will require governments to allocate an adequate share of national income to basic education. This may imply the reallocation of resources within the education sector or the reallocation of funds from other lower priorities within the government budget. In many cases, even with improved allocation of domestic resources, additional funding will be needed from development agencies. Such funding should increasingly be to the sector as a whole, within a sound, medium-term budgetary framework. While proportions vary, funding agencies should in general allocate a larger share of their resources to support for primary and basic education. Particular priority should be accorded to those countries with a strong political commitment to Education for All, and with clear strategies for delivering it. No governments seriously committed to universal primary education within a sustainable framework should be thwarted in the achievement of this objective by lack of resources37.
37 The commitment made by the World Education Forum in Dakar was that We affirm that no countries seriously committed to Education for All will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources. The Dakar Framework for Action (2000).
4.55 Debt relief provides scope for a significant new contribution to the achievement of the International Development Targets in a number of countries. Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) relief will now be granted in the context of a comprehensive, fully-budgeted Poverty Reduction Strategy. Ideally, where such a strategy exists, the savings which accrue from debt relief should be treated in the same way as other government resources, within an overall budgetary framework, with a focus on key national priorities, including education.
4.56 Resources are important, and it is imperative that international, external support facilitates the development of national education systems which can be sustained. This means resources allocated to education need to grow at a rate which allows governments to address the other critical elements of their Poverty Reduction Strategies, and which is consistent with the development of capacity to use these resources effectively.
4.57 Global numbers, such as UNICEFs estimate38 that UPE by 2010 would cost an additional US $7-8 billion a year, can be useful as a campaigning and awareness-raising tool. Their disadvantage is that they can give an impression that all that is needed is extra resource allocations from external funding agencies. In practice, a country specific approach is needed to assess the financing required to achieve the International Development Targets for education and to set them within the broader budgetary and economic context. This requires analysis by ministries of education and finance of the adequacy of the tax base and other sources of funding. The scope for improved internal financial efficiency, the need for differential allocations to different sub-sectors of education, and the challenge of ensuring that mechanisms are in place to meet the needs of those currently unable to benefit from primary education, all require attention. And there should be greater recognition and exploitation of the complementarity that exists between education and other sector investments.
38 UNICEF (1999), State of the Worlds Children. New York: UNICEF.
New ways of working
4.58 An approach to education which is based on developing a broad commitment to policy change requires a significant shift away from discrete projects as the main model of co-operation. While projects have frequently produced particular improvements in education in specific contexts, they have often had limited sustainability. For international funding agencies working at country level, it is likely to be more effective to provide co-ordinated, flexible support to sector policy improvements, where these give high priority to UPE and the education of girls, and where they are fully integrated into governments budgetary frameworks.
4.59 This is particularly true in countries where development assistance is significant as a proportion of overall government expenditure and, as a consequence, disparate project inputs may prevent coherent sector strategy development and drain capacity. In such countries, funding agencies are likely to be involved in strategic discussions at a policy level, including discussions on development objectives, spending priorities and the broader reform agenda. This provides opportunities for supporting sustained and effective development of education, but also carries the responsibility to develop trust and openness. Developing a clear Code of Conduct39 can be a useful way of ensuring that both governments and funding agencies are clear on their roles and responsibilities, and joint commitments.
39 See for example the European Unions Code of Conduct for Education Sector Funding Agencies.
4.60 Flexible sector support requires a good policy framework, supported by adequate mechanisms for implementation and management. The key objectives for the sector should be fully owned by the government (at all levels) and based on consultation with civil society, as well as sound analysis and knowledge of successful strategies in similar contexts. Where countries are in transition towards a sector-wide approach, funding agencies can assist governments to make more solid commitments, open up policy debate on gender and education and move towards good sector policies. To support this process, development agencies should continue to provide aid through appropriate projects, located more consciously in the broad sector framework, and should actively promote improved co-ordination. In countries where conditions for a meaningful sector dialogue do not yet exist, development agencies might choose instead to support efforts to improve the macroeconomic climate, to enhance sector analysis and management capacity, including budget management, or to enhance local participation in education. Development agencies need to work on co-ordinating their reporting and financing systems so that they are in a stronger position to support more coherent sector planning and monitoring.
4.61 In large countries such as China and India, which are less dependent on aid within their education sectors, project assistance can be used effectively by governments to pilot new initiatives, within their own policy frameworks and systems. Development agencies should give priority to supporting initiatives which have the potential to be scaled-up or replicated.
4.62 Moving from projects to sectoral working requires greater interdisciplinarity in development agencies. Education specialists should contribute to the analysis of the social, economic and institutional context of an individual country, engage in in-country policy and strategy formulation, and take a long-term view of possible commitments consistent with the planning of national governments.
4.63 This more strategic approach to support for the education sector is a key priority that has implications for the work of most international organisations, including the major financial institutions. The World Bank makes a major contribution in both knowledge and research, and financing. It is the single largest source of external financing for education, and is involved in the sector in 87 countries. World Bank education strategies give priority to basic education and propose giving greater support to sector-wide approaches. Support for the Comprehensive Development Framework, which is being piloted in selected countries, and for Poverty Reduction Strategies, should give further weight to this approach. The Banks proposals for accelerated progress towards UPE in countries strongly committed to UPE may provide the focus for new country-led, internationally supported initiatives. The Regional Development Banks have the potential to play a stronger role in support of this approach. The IMF plays an important role in promoting stability and encouraging sustainable economic growth. It should be encouraged to do so in ways which ensure that poverty concerns are addressed, particularly as these relate to both the demand and the supply of primary education and their impact on girls access to schooling.
4.64 Within the UN system a more coherent and co-ordinated approach, regionally and internationally, but especially at country level, is required. A clear definition of both comparative advantage and the potential for mutually reinforcing co-operation is needed. Programmes should contribute demonstrably to the realisation of the education targets within countries as distinct from centrally driven programmes.
4.65 UNESCO was charged by the World Education Forum to co-ordinate Education for All partners, to further international political commitment to education and to help mobilise technical and financial resources. UNESCO plans to place the achievement of Education for All at the heart of its activities. UNICEF is leading a global UN initiative on girls education. A coalition of agencies led by the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is growing around HIV/AIDS and education. Several other UN organisations have education programmes in their areas of responsibility, including the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the ILO. These initiatives deserve support where they are responding demonstrably to the priorities of member countries. In the past UN agencies have tended to vie with each other rather than collaborate. A stronger commitment to measurable outcomes and joint working could greatly increase the effectiveness of the UN system.
4.66 The European Commission will need to improve the targeting and the quality of its education sector support and to achieve much better harmony with the work of agencies within individual countries. A sound policy framework is in place and priority has been accorded to basic education, but appraisal and disbursement procedures are slow.
4.67 Bilaterals have certain strengths in their longstanding relationships with particular countries, which may enable a strong in-country presence or a rapid response to meeting specific needs, for example for technical assistance. Some have specific expertise in education and/ or gender analysis. In education as in other sectors a primary need will be to loosen the procedural ties which limit flexible ways of working without loss of accountability to national parliaments. The priorities and roles for DFID are discussed further in the section 5.
4.68 There are new roles for international NGOs, religious bodies and the private sector in contributing to national and global efforts, in ways which bring the particular strengths of these institutions to bear. NGOs may be asked to work more closely with governments, to help pilot new approaches and strategies. They may support schools and communities in monitoring the delivery of promised services and the impact of policy reform, or managing increasingly decentralised budgets and responsibilities. In countries where the commitment to education is not yet clearly articulated, or translated into policy, NGOs may be able to increase their awareness-raising and advocacy role, to support poor communities not only through direct assistance, but in the forming of alliances to assert their right to education more effectively. NGOs were active in the run-up to the World Education Forum. Political commitment will be stronger if the voice of civil society actively supports the education targets. International campaigns by NGOs such as Action Aid and OXFAM are helping to heighten global awareness and promote international support for education.40
40 See for example: OXFAM (1999), Education Now: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty. Oxford: OXFAM.
Priority 12: Promoting information and knowledge
4.69 Strong international leadership is needed to improve international statistics on education. The creation of a new UNESCO Institute of Statistics, which is designed to assist countries in developing their own robust systems of data collection and analysis and provide quality control on international data, is an important international initiative. The World Education Indicators Project and the collective work of the UN, the World Bank and the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD in monitoring progress against the International Development Targets is also significant.
The sharing of knowledge
4.70 Promoting the sharing of research findings and knowledge on important strategic issues (for example effective schools, financial trade-offs, decentralisation) strengthens international action in support of UPE and gender equality. The potential of distance education and the wide range of delivery technologies now available requires further research and the international sharing of experience. One important aspect of this strategy will be to find ways to support the work and networking of researchers in developing countries.