Education for All: You Can Make a Difference

By Gardner, Marilyn | Childhood Education, Winter 2008 | Go to article overview

Education for All: You Can Make a Difference


Gardner, Marilyn, Childhood Education


As a United Nations non-governmental organization and a constituent member of UNESCO, ACEI is a partner in working toward the goals of Education for All (EFA), an international commitment to bring the benefits of education to "every citizen in every society." The following six internationally agreed-upon EFA goals aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth, and adults by 2015:

* Expand and improve comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

& Ensure that by 2015, all children, particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances, and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to a complete, free, and compulsory primary education of good quality.

* Ensure that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programs.

* Achieve a 50 percent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.

* Eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieve gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.

* Improve all aspects of the quality of education and ensure excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills. (http://web.worldbank.org/ WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTEDUCATION/0,,contentMDK:20374062~menuPK:5400 90~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:282 386,00.html)

ACEI members around the world can work toward these goals by constantly reminding government officials and decision-makers that the future depends on the world's children and a successful global community will need at least a "primary education of good quality." Members in the United States will note similarities between the EFA goals and the stated goals of Federal education initiatives during the past 30 years.

In 1981, the U.S. Department of Education created the National Commission on Excellence in Education, resulting in the April 1983 report, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform (www.ed.gov/pubs/NatAtRisk/recomm.html). The report included five recommendations "that the American people can begin to act on now, that can be implemented over the next several years, and that promise lasting reform."

The reports concludes:

"This is not the first or only commission on education, and some of our findings are surely not new, but old business that now at last must be done. For no one can doubt that the United States is under challenge from many quarters.

Children born today can expect to graduate from high school in the year 2000. We dedicate our report not only to these children, but also to those now in school and others to come. We firmly believe that a movement of America's schools in the direction called for by our recommendations will prepare these children for far more effective lives in a far stronger America. …

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