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Saturday, 27 February 2010 10:36

High-Level Meeting On Education For All

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 26, (Buziness Africa) - The Ninth High-Level Group Meeting on Education for All (EFA), focusing on the impact of the global economic crises on education and on challenges related to marginalization, was held in Addis Ababa from 23 to 25 February.


The meeting was organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in collaboration with the African Union and the Government of Ethiopia, bringing together Ministers of Education, representatives of international and regional organizations, civil society and other associations.


The meeting was opened by Ms. Irina Bokovo, Director General of UNESCO, in the presence of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Ms. Lalla Ben Barka, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and Mr. Erastus Mwnecha, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission. 


Speaking at the opening ceremony, Prime Minister Meles said Ethiopia had addressed the issue of access to education in a comprehensive fashion. As a result, 85 percent of the primary schools needed have been built in the rural areas and over 96 percent of primary school-age children have been enrolled.


He spoke of the efforts exerted to expand secondary and tertiary education, including programs for technical and vocational training, and the special attention given to the marginalized sectors of society.


The Premier said, however, that the country has not fully been able to overcome the challenges it faced in expanding access to education in the pastoralist areas.


Referring to a lack of commitment by donors in realizing the pledges made on various occasions, the Prime Minister said the country had to continue to mobilize its own resources to further expand both the education service and its coverage and to address other education-related challenges.


However, he concluded by expressing his confidence that Ethiopia would reach the Millennium Development Goals in the education sector. 


In the opening sessions, technical meetings of senior officials evaluated the activities and progresses made since the eighth meeting of the High-Level Group on Education For All and discussed the report on the key outcomes of the tenth meeting of the working group of Education For All.


Different panel discussions and debates were held both at technical and Ministerial levels. The meeting concluded with the adoption of the Addis Ababa Declaration which notes that it is essential that national governments should further develop adequate and evidence-based education policies linked to a broader development framework, and they should identify, target and respond to the needs of the marginalized in a flexible and innovative way, enhancing the quality and relevance of education.


The declaration calls on governments to multiply their efforts in the current global context to safeguard recent gains in education and increase current levels of budget allocation to at least 6% of GDP or 20% of public expenditure.


It recommends governments to link education policies to broader development strategies, and calls upon EFA partners and development partners to honour their aid commitments and support innovative education funding.


It requests UNESCO to continue to monitor the impact of the financial and economic crisis on education, and to propose measures at the September Millennium Development Goals’ summit to enhance the effectiveness of the High Level group.


During her stay in Addis Ababa, the UNESCO Director General also held bilateral meetings with the Ministers of Culture and Tourism, Education and Foreign Affairs. Together with Education Minister, Ato Demeke Mekonnen, Director General Bokovo laid the foundation stone for an International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa.


She also had fruitful discussions with President Girma Woldegiorgis, and with Prime Minister Meles. In their meeting, the Prime Minister emphasized the Government’s belief that science and technology had a key role to play in reducing poverty and bringing about rapid and sustainable economic development.


It had re-established the Science and Technology Commission at a ministerial level to boost the development of the sector. He noted that the Government had increased the number of state higher learning institutions to twenty two.


Director General Bokovo said that UNESCO would be continuing to assist Ethiopia in ensuring quality education and in improving the enrollment of girls at all levels of the education system. This would be part of UNESCO’s efforts to assist Ethiopia to meet the Millennium Development Goals.



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