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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 folder4. Education for All: The Components - Summary of Roundtables
close this folderAn Expanded Vision
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIncreasing Access and Equity
View the documentA Focus on Learning
View the documentBroadening the Scope of Basic Education.
View the documentEnhancing the Learning Environment
View the documentStrengthening Partnerships

Increasing Access and Equity

The education of females, minorities, the disadvantaged, displaced, and disabled, dominated the discussions on priority populations. The thematic roundtable on women's education and the illustrative roundtable on the education of the girl-child in the South Asian context brought out the manifold effects of not only providing educational opportunity to females, but also ensuring equitable quality.

The most urgent priority is to ensure access to, and improve the quality of, education for girls and women, and to remove every obstacle that hampers their active participation. All gender stereotyping in education should be eliminated.

World Declaration

The inter-generational effects of a mother's education on that of her children, on infant mortality and overall family size and well-being, and on her economic productivity, were added to the strong view that gender equality as a moral imperative must be a central goal of education for all. Economic and cultural factors were raised as primary barriers to female education, with deeply-rooted systems of patriarchy espoused as the underlying culprit in many corners of the world. Strategies to over-come gender bias were categorized into three fundamental types: (a) welfare-oriented; (b) enablement-oriented; and (c) empowerment-oriented. Several concrete actions were suggested, such as increasing the number of female teachers, providing incentives to female teachers to work in rural areas, modifying curriculum and the school calendar, establishing single-sex classrooms, inter alia. An additional key point was raised noting that gender discrimination should not focus on women only as "clients" of education but also on their role as "agents" of education.

The thematic roundtables on language and culture discussed the need to promote the educational opportunity of minority peoples, refugees, and the disadvantaged. Those who plan literacy programmes often overlook the fact that written language is the necessary medium of literacy. However, of the 4000 languages spoken in the world, only about 300 are in regular use in written form. This condition alone leaves many minority cultural groups on the margins of basic education systems. Refugees and displaced persons suffer similar problems of access and equity as they move between language groups. The illustrative roundtable on rural education in Nepal and Afghanistan particularly captured the special needs of nomadic, displaced, and isolated populations. Finally, the case for giving particular attention to the educational needs of disabled learners was effectively made in several roundtables and was reflected in the final text of the World Declaration.