Is Education for All Possible?

In 2000, at the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal, governments from more than 160 countries, international organizations, NGOs and civil society representatives agreed on a framework for action to implement the education for all (EFA) commitments that included six goals and targets to be reached by 2015.

Since the Dakar Forum, the UNESCO has published an annual EFA Global Monitoring Report to monitor progress and, recently, they released the “Education for All, 2000-2015: Achievements and Challenges” report which assesses whether the world has reached the following EFA goals:

Early childhood care and education: Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

Universal primary education: Ensure that by 2015 all children, especially those in difficult circumstances, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality.

Youth and adult skills: Ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes.

Adult literacy: Increase adult literacy by 50%, especially for women, and provide equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.

Quality of education: Improve all aspects of the quality of education, ensuring higher parameters, to achieve recognized and measurable learning outcomes, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

After analysing the current situation of education in the world, the report concludes that, in general, the goal of universal primary education has not been fulfilled since children with fewer resources have been the last to benefit from it. However, the achievements are important given the progress that has been made would not have occurred had the trends of the 1990s continued.

The main lesson learnt from this period is that technical solutions are important but influence and political momentum have an even greater impact and are essential for implementing reforms and measures to achieve education for all at the national level. Therefore, the debate on the sustainable development agenda from 2015 onwards represents an opportunity to define possible reforms and measures with the necessary reach.