Since 2000, education objectives for development have been defined and
followed by two parallel international agendas:
1) an education specific agenda
(Education for All - EFA, Dakar 2000) with a set of six goals1;
2) an integrated development framework with two education related MDGs (n°2+3)2.
While most of the goals of the Millennium Development Agenda have been
defined during thematic international conferences and meetings in the preceding
decade, the education goals, the six EFA goals, have been set at the World
Education Forum six months earlier (26-28 April 2000, Dakar, organized by
UNESCO).The EFA goals were the most influential. But did they have more
impact on development than the two education related MDGS? This is very
difficult to evaluate, mostly as two of the six Dakar goals are in the same
domains as the two MDGs (Universal primary education- UPE and gender parity).
Yet, it might be more interesting to consider the differences between the two
agendas and the impact that these differences could have had on development. The
two agendas mainly differ on their focus. The EFA agenda is human right
based. It is focused on basic education for all: children, youth and
adults. This focus covers both formal and non formal education
programmes in a holistical approach of the education system.
The two education related MDGs, UPE and gender parity, refer to
formal education system only in focusing on primary schooling for school-aged
children, and on the reduction of gender disparities in primary and
secondary schooling. Yet, this focus on formal education system does not take
into consideration the proportion of children, youth and adults who could not
have access to primary schooling or could not achieve their basic education.
This proportion is still a large majority in most of the poorest countries.
Primary schooling for school aged children might well be an essential factor of
development, it is not yet sufficient. In order that education plays its role in
human development process (instrumental role to development), education should
be guaranteed to all persons whose basic learning needs could not be fulfilled
(principle of equity) and should allow access to knowledge and competences
(quality education). Equity and quality are both dimensions of the right to
education. This underlines the importance of a human right based approach
for education within the future development Agenda.
While the two agendas are running in parallel, current MDGs and EFA processes
of assessing experience since 2000 and defining perspective beyond 2015 do not
appear to be synchronized.
For the post MDGs, it seems like an integrated development agenda post
2015 will largely be shaped in 2013, building on regional and country
consultations and the ongoing global thematic consultations (the global
conversation, the future we want consultations, UNDG’s 9 thematic
consultations). For the post EFA framework, apart from the UNSG’s
“Education First” – special Initiative on Education launched in 2012,
UNESCO has been at the forefront to initiate important processes for
official dialogue (EFA High Level Forum, Global EFA Meeting, regional
consultations, national assessments). These processes for shaping the future EFA
agenda post 2015 will only take shape in 2015.
SDC advocacy note for education in the post-2015 agenda
Swiss position on education for the post-2015 agenda
Swiss website on the post-2015 agenda
1 The six EFA goals are: expand early childhood care and
education, provide free and compulsory primary education for all, Promote
learning and life skills for young people and adults, Increase adult literacy by
50 per cent, Achieve gender parity by 2005, gender equality by 2015, Improve the
quality of education
2 Achieve universal primary education (UPE), promote gender
equality and empowerment women