Thomas Bediako

This speaker stood out among those who ensured that the NGOs earned respect at the Dakar Forum. He spoke on behalf of the NGOs at the closing plenary session and warned delegates that the NGOs would, besides carrying out their immediate tasks, act as a kind of "education watch”. – Thomas Bediako is the African coordinator of Education International, the influential educational association that operates worldwide, chiefly as a teachers’ organization.

Statement

I would like to make few comments on behalf of all the NGOs at this conference. First let me say that we, the NGOs, were very happy to hear the vision and political will expressed by Secretary General Kofi Annan and other leaders here this week – the commitment to education for all, increased resources, and most importantly the determination to act now.

We welcome the expression of some of that vision in the draft Framework for Action. We note particularly:

  • a strengthened commitment to free and compulsory primary education of good quality
  • the commitment that no country with a viable plan will be allowed to fail for lack of resources
  • a global effort based on country led national plans
  • the acknowledgement of the need for increased resources through aid and debt relief
  • recognition of the need to prioritise girls’ education
  • the commitment to a genuine partnership with civil society – that is NGOs, teachers’ unions, parents’ organisations inclusive
  • the promise to urgently implement education programmes to combat HIV/AIDS.

The draft Framework however falls well short of what we hoped for. It is short on time bound commitments. It is weak on financing. We had hoped to see a target of 6% of GNP for education spending as recommended by the Delors Commission, and 8% of aid to be spent on education. It lacks mechanisms for transparency and accountability. We deeply regret that.

And perhaps most importantly, the language on the proposed global initiative is vague and lacks detail. We are struck by the contrast between the obligations being taken on by Southern governments, and the absence of comparable commitments by the Northern governments and multilaterals.

In the last few months we have seen the flowering of a world-wide movement of civil society dedicated to the fight for quality education for all.

We thank you – the governments and multilaterals – for your willingness to engage with us in this important work.

I want to tell you that we will not go away.

We will continue to campaign at local, national and international levels.

We will see you in the villages, towns and cities.

We will see you at the G7 Summit in Okinawa, at the Social Summit Review in Geneva, the Beijing Review and the Millennium General Assembly in New York.

We shall keep shadowing them.

Thank you.

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