1990-2000: One Decade of Education for All: The Challenge Ahead

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» One Decade of Education for All: The Challenge Ahead
Rosa María Torres

Rosa María Torres, who was a participant in Dakar, takes a critical look at what has happened since the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien. Since then, numerous meetings have been held and many initiatives launched. But what has changed? What has been achieved? What has become of the “expanded vision of basic education” outlined in Jomtien? We publish here extracts from the book by Rosa María Torres, “One Decade of Education for All: The Challenge Ahead”, first published in English by IIEP UNESCO, Buenos Aires, 2000. Rosa María Torres, specialist in basic education, who has often written articles for this journal, is currently based in Argentina and working as an independent international education adviser with governments, international agencies, NGOs and teachers’ organizations. She is the author of numerous books and articles on basic education and teacher education.

One Decade of Education for All: The Challenge Ahead

Education for All “Shrank”

Unfortunately, although perhaps predictably, the interpretations of EFA that prevailed and translated into policies and programs in the 1990s are more along the lines of the tradition of preserving and improving,rethinking and transforming. rather than the challenge of

Faced with rapidly approaching deadlines and national and international pressure to produce results within given timeframes, Education for All increasingly adopted a minimalist approach and favored facile, fast and short-term solutions, with a focus on quantity rather than quality. The “expanded vision” of basic education and its ambitious goals for quality education for all have, in many respects, “shrunk” (see Box 1). In other words, the “expanded vision” of basic education – which is actually an expanded and renewed vision of education in general – has not (yet) been put into practice.

Box 1
Education for All

Proposal Response
1. Education for all 1. Education for children (the poorest among the poor)
2. Basic education 2. Schooling (and primary education)
3. Universalizing basic education 3. Universalizing access to primary education
4. Basic learning needs 4. Minimum learning needs
5. Focusing on learning 5. Enhancing and assessing school performance
6. Expanding the vision of basic education 6. Increasing the duration (number of years) of compulsory schooling
7. Basic education as the foundation for lifelong learning 7. Basic education as an end in itself
8. Enhancing the environment for learning 8. Enhancing the school environment
9. All countries 9. Developing countries
10. Responsibility of countries (government and civil society) and the international community 10. Responsibility of countries