The Education 2030 Framework for Action was adopted today in a high level meeting alongside the 38th UNESCO General Conference. What is this document and what does it mean for our work over the next fifteen years?
What is the Education 2030 Framework for Action?
This framework — painstakingly drafted over many months with input from governments, international agencies, civil society and experts — provides guidance for implementing the education commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at a national, regional and global level. In particular:
- it aims at mobilizing all countries and partners around Sustainable Education Goal 4 and its targets;
- it proposes ways of implementing, coordinating, financing and monitoring the new commitments; and
- it proposes indicative strategies which countries may wish to draw upon in developing their plans, taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.
The Education 2030 Framework for Action – Towards Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All succeeds the Dakar Framework for Action – Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments, which guided international efforts between 2000 and 2015. While the text may not always manage to inspire, it deftly accommodates the interests of a multiplicity of constituencies involved in repeated layers of consultation. Indeed, it is an extremely valuable snapshot of international consensus on issues of education and development.
In the 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report, we reflected on the impending new Framework for Action and asked:
- how it could propose more effective mechanisms for global coordination and accountability than those envisaged in Dakar? and
- how could the Dakar strategies be amended for greater success in the future?
These questions drew out five key lessons relevant for the signatories of today’s new Framework for Action. They represent the need to:
- Sustain political commitment: Formal coordination mechanisms were not always effective in the 2000s. But, in recent years, the UNESCO secretariat and the convening agencies have worked hard to reinvigorate this process. Countries will need to sustain these efforts with stronger representation that truly reflects regional interests in the proposed coordination mechanisms.
- Strengthen national policy and practice: The new agenda’s success will ultimately be judged at the country level. National plans will need to (i) better recognize relationships between levels of education and across sectors; (ii) address equity more directly; and (iii) elaborate measures to improve quality more clearly. The Framework for Action is very explicit on all three aspects.
- Effectively mobilize more financial resources: Compared with the famous pledge made in Dakar that “no countries seriously committed to Education for All will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources”, the new Framework for Action is less bold in tone. Rather, it defers relevant actions until the conclusions of the International Commission on the Financing of Global Education Opportunities are submitted to the UN Secretary General in September 2016.
- Bring the monitoring and reporting of progress to a new level: The Framework for Action takes a bold step of including an annex with a proposed (though not endorsed) set of indicators for the new education targets. This offers a chance to reflect on how progress can and should be defined – something our Report will be looking at in 2016. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on institutional developments needed to address the many monitoring challenges at the national level.
- Link monitoring with action: Improving monitoring will not by itself bring about real progress in education. We need to enable countries to learn from each other and trigger action. Some governments may be reluctant to join such efforts since they may note that they are being asked to account for international commitments to which they are not legally bound.
That said, the Education 2030 Framework for Action boldly responds to the call of the UN Secretary-General for thematic reviews to chart global progress at regular intervals. For the GMR, the new document further solidifies our mandate for the next 15 years. Paragraph 101 specifically states:
“[t]he EFA Global Monitoring Report will be continued in the form of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report. … The GEM Report will be the mechanism for monitoring and reporting on SDG 4 and on education in the other SDGs, with due regard to the global mechanism to be established to monitor and review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will also report on the implementation of national and international strategies to help hold all relevant partners to account for their commitments as part of the overall SDG follow-up and review.”
We are honored by the confidence of the international community in our work. We are determined to continue to earn this confidence in the coming years as an authoritative, high quality and editorially independent report monitoring the new education goal and targets.
Furthermore we welcome the emphasis of paragraph 103 on a “research and evaluation culture … to learn lessons from the implementation of strategies and policies and feed them back into actions”. In particular, that:
- Countries commit to “evaluate the effect of their education policies on achieving the Education 2030 targets”; and
- Convening agencies commit to “evaluating the effectiveness of their coordination mechanisms and the extent to which their programmes support countries in implementing Education 2030”.
These are solid foundations to help achieve an ambitious and transformative agenda in education.