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close this bookWorld Conference on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs - Final Report (UNICEF - UNDP - UNESCO - WB - WCEFA, 1990, 129 p.)
close this folder3. Education for All: The Consensus-Building - Summary of Interventions in the Plenary Commission
close this folderCommitments
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View the documentNational Action, International Support
View the documentCommitments of the Sponsors
View the documentEnlarging the Global Resource Pool

National Action, International Support

Commitment and action at the national level is the base on which all else depends:

We cannot overstate the importance of national commitment, and the fact that in the ultimate analysis, educational opportunities can be widened.

Only through national resources and societal involvement, particularly of all... of us who had this privilege of education. But at the same time, we cannot fail to recognize the great role which can be played by the transfer of resources from those who have the capacity to contribute to those who are in dire need.


No real breakthrough will be possible without a mobilization or re-affirmation of political will, coupled with a serious questioning of resource priorities, on the part of countries and their leaders. Success will depend much less on external support - which... must increase greatly - than on the attitudes of Heads of Government, Finance Ministers and parliamentarians as representatives of the people. It is they who ultimately matter most; it is they who will translate their convictions into practical action by setting priorities, negotiating loans and voting education budgets.

F. Mayor
Director-General, UNESCO

We acknowledge that many countries have rationalized their budgets and expenditure and yet still need external financial assistance to achieve Education for All. We believe nevertheless that it is necessary for each country to pledge and maintain its own contribution towards the realization of this goal.


The World Conference on Education for All is, above all, a summons for action. Our common objective is to mobilize societies as a whole for the cause of education, to reaffirm flagging commitments, to join complementary forces and demonstrate international solidarity, to cooperate and learn from each other, and before this century ends, to make the right to education a daily reality for all.

F. Mayor
Director-General, UNESCO

If countries take the necessary first step of critically examining their basic education strategies, and make the commitment to achieving Education for All, the international community should support them.

Speaking of the goal of achieving universal primary education by the year 2000, the Executive Director of UNICEF promised:

We (UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank) will take the lead in seeking to assure that any least developed or low income countries effectively committed to this goal... will not lack for essential external inputs of paper, textbooks and other basic learning and teaching materials.

The Administrator of UNDP, after stating that "most (national) budgets can accommodate additional spending on human development by reordering their priorities", suggested an agenda of action to ensure EFA by 2000, whereby countries would undertake the necessary national actions to which the world community should respond:

These then are the four essential components of the action agenda I am suggesting:

Number 1 - formulation of national human development strategies, with education as their integral component;

Number 2 - preparation of financial plans by developing countries to achieve basic education for all over the next decade;

Number 3 - internal restructuring of priorities in the developing countries to release more resources for the education sector;

Number 4 - a global compact to ensure more external resources to implement this target.

Such a process should generate commitment, and to start, "UNDP, with offices in 112 countries, is ready to assist".

The Delegate of Argentina cited the readiness of Latin America to take on the commitment arising out of the World Conference, and urged other regions to do likewise, to make the commitment meaningful in global terms.

Non-Governmental Organizations accepted the commitment also:

The NGOs represented at this Conference fully expect that NGOs will be integral partners in whatever structures are created to implement the action of making Education for All a reality. We stand ready to play our part in a global process that will equip mankind to step over the threshold of the twenty-first century ready and able to forge a world of peace, unity and prosperity by meeting the basic learning needs of all.

NGO Delegate

The Delegate of Ireland, speaking on behalf of member states of the European Community, stressed Europe's commitment to fighting functional illiteracy within the EEC, and also to support its partners in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific:

The Fourth Lome Convention signed in December 1989 recognizes the importance of basic education and programmes to combat illiteracy and provides for the availability of financial assistance from the European Community for these areas.

Another delegate noted the commitment of Europe to development with a human face, and emphasized that despite the progress to reconciliation and unity, Europe will not turn in on itself, and will not relinquish its responsibility to its partners in the South. Other delegates indicated the willingness of their countries to exchange information and expertise, and to join in the expansion of international education information and research networks.

Others, notably Australia, Italy and Sweden, pointed to the increasing trend in their own external assistance programmes towards support for basic education. The delegate of Japan announced some of Japan's follow-up activities, including the consideration of "making a substantial contribution to the expansion and strengthening of the Asia-Pacific Programme of Education for All (APPEAL)".

International agencies made similar statements, for example:

The ADB will expand its assistance to education, improve the quality and widen the scope by adding basic education and non-formal education to its portfolio.

K Tarumizu
President, Asian Development Bank

The Special Islamic Programme for Literacy and Basic Education for All in Islamic Countries and Communities"... just adopted by ISESCO's Extraordinary General Conference, which was held on 3 March in these very premises... is submitted to your assembly as ISESCO's contribution... whose initial capital amounts to three million US dollars.

A. Boutaleb
Director-General, ISESCO

There were several calls to the world community at large to commit the resources necessary to ensure education for all.

One delegate urged that "world funding agencies.. pledge yearly, biennially, triennially, or whatever period considered appropriate, funds to enable steps to be taken by them or by the countries to achieve the goals of education for all by the end of the decade".

Delegates from African countries and the Organization of African Unity called for Africa to be made a special priority, with

... support to be handled in a way that would promote self-reliant development in Education. A specific fund for Africa and a focal centre for mobilization of resources, their allocation and the monitoring of progress towards EFA should be considered.

The Conference was also reminded of the recommendation of the Latin American Regional Consultation in Quito for the creation of an international fund to channel new resources towards meeting basic learning needs in the less-developed world.

The Commonwealth Secretariat emphasized the importance of supporting appropriate, locally-specific basic education which tends to require longer-term budgetary support rather than capital - and technology-intensive assistance. The agency stands ready to devote resources to:

... examining this key issue and cooperating with other agencies in the search for new ways of using external resources to assist basic education.