United Nations

A/52/183


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

18 June 1997

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


                                                     A/52/183
                                                     E/1997/74



GENERAL ASSEMBLY                              ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL
Fifty-second session                          Substantive session of 1997
Item 104 of the                               Geneva, 30 June-25 July 1997
  preliminary list*                           Item 7 (c) of the 
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT, INCLUDING                   provisional agenda
  QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE                   REPORTS, CONCLUSIONS AND
  WORLD SOCIAL SITUATION AND                    RECOMMENDATIONS OF
  TO YOUTH, AGEING, DISABLED                    SUBSIDIARY BODIES:
  PERSONS AND THE FAMILY                        SOCIAL QUESTIONS

    * A/52/50.


             Progress report on the implementation process of the
                         education for all objectives

          Report of the Secretary-General and of the Director-General
          of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural 
                                 Organization


     The present report has been prepared pursuant to General Assembly
resolution 50/143 of 21 December 1995.  As requested by the Assembly,
the report includes the conclusions and recommendations of the
mid-decade meeting of the International Consultative Forum on
Education for All, held at Amman from 16 to 19 June 1996 (see annex).


            PROGRESS REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS
                 OF THE EDUCATION FOR ALL OBJECTIVES

          Report of the Secretary-General and of the Director-General
          of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural 
                                 Organization


                                 Introduction

     "Education is empowerment.  It is the key to establishing and
     reinforcing democracy, to development which is both
     sustainable and humane and to peace founded upon mutual
     respect and social justice.  Indeed, in a world in which
     creativity and knowledge play an ever greater role, the right
     to education is nothing less that the right to participate in
     the life of the modern world."

1.   This opening paragraph of the Amman Affirmation, the final
communique' of the mid-decade meeting of the International
Consultative Forum on Education for All, adopted at Amman on 19 June
1996, emphasizes why education for all has become a major concern
shared by countries around the world and a priority for the United
Nations, its specialized agencies and their partners.

2.   The Amman meeting was the third global meeting of the Education
for All Forum since it was established, to follow up the World
Conference on Education for All:  Meeting Basic Learning Needs, held
in Jomtien, Thailand from 5 to 9 March 1990.  The Jomtien Conference,
a major event during the International Literacy Year, adopted the
World Declaration on Education for All and approved a Framework for
Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs. 1/  These two texts have guided
countries and the international community in their efforts through the
1990s to expand and improve basic education which covers a range of
activities that aim to meet the basic learning needs of individuals. 
The Education for All Forum secretariat is based at the headquarters
of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.  Its programme is defined by an
international steering committee, and its operational funding is
provided by a consortium of multilateral and bilateral organizations.

3.   During 1995 and 1996, the Education for All Forum coordinated the
mid-decade review of progress towards education for all, a worldwide
exercise that called upon all countries to examine and report on their
achievements and shortfalls in relation to their own education for all
goals and plans.  The global review also drew information from the
annual statistical reports submitted to UNESCO, some 20 country case
studies, a survey of the conditions of schools in a cross-section of
the least developed countries, a survey of the major donor
organizations and reports submitted by major groupings of
non-governmental organizations concerned with basic education.

4.   Information collected during the mid-decade review gave a general
but incomplete picture of progress and shortfalls in the development
of basic education since the Jomtien Conference.  The present report
contains a few selected, salient points from the findings of the
review expressed in general terms, which do not take account of inter-
and intra-country disparities and exceptions.  The Amman Affirmation,
which includes more information and summarizes the Forum's conclusions
and recommendations, is annexed to the present report.


                             Progress in the 1990s

5.   Both the number and the proportion of literate adults continued to
grow during the first half of the current decade, so that by 1995 they
constituted 77 per cent of the adult population 15 years of age and
older.  The proportion of women who are literate increased slightly,
from 68.7 per cent in 1990 to 71.2 per cent in 1995.  During the same
period, the absolute number of illiterate adults stayed at about 885
million, but within that total, the number of illiterate women grew by
4 million, so there are now nearly two illiterate women for every
illiterate man in the world.

6.   Gains in the expansion of primary schooling give the grounds for
expecting a continuing growth in the number and proportion of literate
adults.  All of the major developing regions of the world registered
significant increases in primary school enrolments, with the combined
total reaching some 545 million in 1995, representing an increase of
nearly 50 million in five years, double the pace of expansion during
the 1980s.  Since enrolment rates increased faster than population
growth, the net enrolment ratios continued to rise in all developing
regions.  Some four out of five children in the 6 to 11 age-group were
enrolled in school by mid-decade, and the absolute number of children
in this age-group who were not enrolled is estimated to have dropped
from 128 million in 1990 to 110 million in 1995.

7.   Several other promising signs for the future emerged from the
mid-decade review of the education for all.  Most developing countries
reported having taken steps since 1990 to give more priority to the
expansion and improvement of the provision of basic education, that
includes the quality of primary education, reducing urban-rural and
gender disparities, and reducing drop-out rates.  There appears also
to have been some expansion of early childhood development programmes,
which are estimated to reach some 450 million children in the
developing regions, or about one out of five children in the three to
six age-group.


                   Shortfalls, new and continuing challenges

8.   The progress towards the education for all goals was found to be
uneven both within and between countries, as well as in respect to the
several target dimensions identified in the Framework for Action to
Meet Basic Learning Needs, which was adopted by the Jomtien Conference
and continues to serve as the main reference instrument for the
international community.  The Amman Forum has reiterated the stress
given at the Jomtien Conference to closing the gender gap in
education, but found that the progress towards this goal has been
excruciatingly slow and, therefore, much more must be done in this
area.  The Forum also underlines that the expanded vision of basic
education espoused at Jomtien has often been reduced to a simple
emphasis upon putting more children into school:  an essential step,
but only one of many measures needed to achieve education for all.  In
this connection, the Forum mentions the relative lack of attention and
resources given to out-of-school literacy and other basic education
programmes for young people and adults, and notes that the early
childhood care and development, while receiving increased attention,
nonetheless remains seriously underdeveloped and undersupported in
many countries.

9.   In its general assessment of progress so far, the Consultative
Forum has identified emerging and continuing challenges that countries
need to respond to in their efforts to provide basic education for
all.  These are summarized succinctly in the Amman Affirmation,
annexed to the present report.  In its final session, the Forum
stressed the need to accelerate progress towards the education for all
and called on the Governments to set firm targets and timetables for
achieving those targets.


                                  Conclusion

10.  The Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Director-
General of UNESCO would like to assure that the commitment to
education for all made by the international community at the beginning
of the present decade is being vigorously pursued by the Governments
around the world with the support of the organizations and agencies of
the United Nations system and their partners.  Among these partners
are numerous non-governmental and other community organizations,
research institutions, print and audio-visual media, private
enterprises, as well as bilateral and multilateral development
assistance programmes.  This impressive mobilization of partners and
the progress achieved so far are a strong encouragement for continuing
and increasing efforts at all levels to ensure that the basic learning
needs of people of all ages and in all countries are effectively met. 
The Amman Forum, at its mid-decade meeting, has reaffirmed the
necessity and the possibility of achieving the education for all.  It
is now up to the Member States, individually and collectively, to see
this historical commitment through to its fulfilment. 


                                     Notes

     1/  See Final Report of the World Conference on Education for All: 
Meeting Basic Learning Needs, Jomtien, Thailand, 5-9 March 1990,
Inter-Agency Commission for the World Conference on Education for All,
New York, 1990.


                                     Annex

                                                 [Original:  Arabic, Chinese, 
                                                  English, French and Spanish]

         The Amman Affirmation, adopted at the mid-decade meeting of the
         International Consultative Forum on Education for All, held at
                        Amman, from 16 to 19 June 1996


     Education is empowerment.  It is the key to establishing and
reinforcing democracy, to development which is both sustainable and
humane and to peace founded upon mutual respect and social justice. 
Indeed, in a world in which creativity and knowledge play an ever
greater role, the right to education is nothing less than the right to
participate in the life of the modern world.

     Aware of the power and potential of education, the international
community committed itself at the World Conference on Education for
All held in Jomtien, Thailand, in March 1990, to meet the basic
learning needs of every individual.  In major conferences since
Jomtien, the nations of the world have repeatedly endorsed the central
importance of basic education in all aspects of the development
process:  preserving the environment, managing population growth,
combating poverty, promoting social development and creating equality
between the sexes.  We have now met in Amman, Jordan, at the gracious
invitation of His Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal, to review progress
towards the goals set in Jomtien and, of even greater importance, to
find ways of overcoming persistent problems and confronting new
challenges in order to achieve education for all.

Gains achieved

     In the six years since the adoption of the World Declaration on
Education for All, there has been significant progress in basic
education, not in all countries nor as much as had been hoped, but
progress that is nonetheless real.  Primary school enrolment has
increased, an estimated 50 million more children are enrolled today
than in 1990.  The number of out-of-school children, which had grown
inexorably for decades, is also beginning to decline.  There are today
20 million fewer out-of-school children of primary-school age than at
the start of the decade.  This progress is the result of concerted
efforts by Governments and peoples to extend educational
opportunities.  New partnerships have emerged, new resources have been
tapped and new energies and ideas have been devoted to making
education for all a reality.

     Accompanying these quantitative gains has been a growing emphasis
on the quality of education.  Without educational content relevant to
current needs, without preparation in the learning skills and new
knowledge required for the future, and without efforts to improve
learning achievement, access may neither serve the purposes intended
nor provide the benefits expected.  Fortunately, serious reflection,
more rigorous planning and a spirit of innovation have prepared the
ground in many countries for important educational advances in the
years ahead.

     We acknowledge the forces of progress at work in all parts of the
world:  the new dynamism with which Africa is struggling, in difficult
circumstances, to reverse the negative trends of the last 10 years;
the valiant efforts of South Asia to bring basic education to hundreds
of millions of people; the increasing political support being given to
education for all in the Arab States, which is increasingly perceived
as the best preparation for meeting the challenges and uncertainties
of the future; and the measures taken in other regions of the world to
protect, sustain and enhance the gains that have been made since the
Jomtien Conference.

Shortfalls

     Yet, if the achievements of the last six years give reason for
optimism, they provide no room for complacency.  Continued progress
requires even more forceful and concerted action, based on good
information, sound research and careful analysis and aimed at
achieving clearly specified results.

     No point was more stressed in Jomtien than the urgent need to
close the gender gap in education, both as a matter of simple equity
and as the most effective means for responding to demographic
pressures and promoting development.  Yet, progress towards this goal
has been excruciatingly slow; much more must be done.

     The expanded vision of basic education espoused in Jomtien has
often been reduced to a simple emphasis upon putting more children
into school:  an essential step, but only one of many measures needed
to achieve education for all.

     Early childhood care and development, with its enormous potential
and distinctive role in promoting the active learning capacities and
the overall well-being and development of children, while receiving
greatly increased attention, nonetheless remains seriously
underdeveloped and undersupported in many countries.

     This lack of support applies as well to out-of-school literacy and
education programmes for adolescents and adults.  There are some 900
million adult illiterates in the world, nearly two thirds of them
women.  In all societies, the best predictor of the learning
achievement of children is the education and literacy level of their
parents.  Investments in adult education and literacy are, thus,
investments in the education of entire families.

     There has also been a tendency to focus on basic education without
recognizing its essential links to secondary and higher education, as
well as to teacher training and the development of technical and
vocational skills.  The World Declaration on Education for All was
intended to empower, not to limit - to propose minimums, but not to
set ceilings.

The road ahead

     As we look to the end of the century and beyond, the leadership in
each country must assume the responsibility for accelerating progress
towards education for all, setting firm targets and timetables for
achieving them.

     International agencies and donors must also play their full role
as partners in the education for all movement, matching national
efforts with significantly increased international support, improved
coordination and greater responsiveness to country priorities.

     All education for all partners must learn how to mobilize new
resources as well as how to use existing resources more effectively. 
In the quest for education for all, enhanced political will, greater
financial and material resources and improved management are all
essential.

Emerging challenges

     In the light of the developments of the past six years, it has
become essential to re-examine goals and add new areas and means of
action to those set forth in the Jomtien vision:

     -   Given the trend towards more open societies and global
economies, we must emphasize the forms of learning and critical
thinking that enable individuals to understand changing environments,
create new knowledge and shape their own destinies.  We must respond
to new challenges by promoting learning in all aspects of life,
through all the institutions of society, in effect, creating
environments in which living is learning.

     -   Given the growing recognition and reality of multicultural
and diverse societies, we must respond by including local content as
well as cross-cultural learning in basic education and by
acknowledging the essential role of the mother tongue for initial
instruction.

     -   Given escalating violence caused by growing ethnic tensions
and other sources of conflict, we must respond by ensuring that
education reinforces mutual respect, social cohesion and democratic
governance; we must learn how to use education to prevent conflict
and, where crises do occur, ensure that education is among the first
responses, thereby contributing to hope, stability and the healing of
the wounds of conflict.

     -   Given debt burdens, restrictions on social expenditures and
continuing wasteful expenditure on weapons of war, we must respond
with measures to reduce debt burdens, including the transformation of
liabilities into assets through debt swaps, policies that promote
investments in a nation's people and future, and reforms to the
international economic system that give poor countries a chance to
earn their way in the world.

     -   Given rapidly growing numbers of youth at risk, often
alienated from society and facing unemployment, we must seek ways to
make education more responsive, both to the immediate realities facing
these youth, as well as to the changing realities of a world in which
basic learning skills are ever more important.

Continuing challenges

     Even as we focus our attention on these new realities and
challenges, we must persist in our efforts to meet the goals set forth
in the World Declaration on Education for All:

     -   The priority of priorities must continue to be the education
of women and girls.  Successful approaches and programmes must be
identified in order that they may be replicated and expanded.  There
can be no enduring success in basic education until the gender gap is
closed.

     -   The training, status and motivation of teachers continues to
be at the very core of educational concerns.  While we must make
better and wider use of technology and media, they can complement, but
never replace the essential role of the teacher as the organizer of
the instructional process and as a guide and example to the young.

     -   The full vision of education for all, that of a learning
society, recognizes the role of parents, families and communities as
the child's first teachers.  Both learning and teaching begin at birth
and continue throughout life, as individuals work, live and
communicate ideas and values by word and example.

     -   Education for all can only be achieved through a broad
partnership united by a shared purpose.  It is essential to sustain
the spirit of partnership and to broaden it to include all elements of
society:  parliaments, religious bodies, voluntary and community
groups, the business sector, the media and others.  Education for all
was founded on a faith in partnerships and a belief that, in a
shrinking world, we are destined to share fully in the successes as
well as the setbacks of other peoples and countries.  In the quest to
achieve education for all, it is essential that we sustain and enhance
this spirit of solidarity.

     -   The efficient and effective use of resources continues to be
essential to the progress of education for all.  We must seek more
efficient management of education systems, make more effective use of
partnerships, draw more systematically upon research and
experimentation, and develop reliable information and assessment
systems.

     -   The right to education has been powerfully reaffirmed by the
near-universal ratification of the United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child.  Yet, there are still over 100 million children
without access to education.  We must respond urgently with new
approaches and strategies capable of bringing quality education within
the reach of all, including the poor, the remote and those with
special educational needs.  This calls for a comprehensive effort
tailored to the needs of specific populations and based upon the best
available expertise and technology.

Renewing the pledge

     Six years ago, at Jomtien, the international community agreed upon
the necessity and the possibility of achieving education for all. 
Today, we, the participants in the mid-decade review of education for
all, reflecting on the experience and knowledge gained during the
intervening years, reaffirm that necessity and possibility and
rededicate ourselves to the essential task of bringing the benefits of
education to all.


                                     -----




 

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