Higher Education and Research for efa project

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Higher Education and Research for EFA Project


IAU Collaborative Workshop:

A three-step activity to discuss possible links between higher education (HE) and Education For All (EFA) locally

I. Context
Launched at the World Declaration on Education For All (EFA) in Jomtien 1990, the EFA Movement later defined six goals to provide quality education for all children, youth and adults by 20151. These goals were adopted by 164 countries under the Dakar Framework for Action in 2000. More than a decade later, worldwide commitment is unflagging to achieve EFA, significantly marked by the second Jomtien Declaration at the UNESCO Meeting of the High-level Group on EFA (March 2011)2 and the Ministerial Declaration on Education by the UN Economic and Social Council High-level Segment (July, 2011), a first of its kind. At the same time, the demonstrated centrality of education in reaching most of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)3 formulated in 2000, has made achieving EFA all the more important4. Indeed the transversal role of education renders EFA a universal issue for the North and South alike and not simply an education developmental issue.
Thus far, considerable progress has been made in universalising primary education rendering ‘education’ a success amongst other MDGs. In contrast, as 2015 draws closer, according to the 2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report: “the world is not on track to achieve the Education for All targets5. There are flagrant gaps (poor educational quality; increasing number of illiterate women) and even in some cases a reversal of progress (e.g. de-schooling of boys). Yet the ‘MDG success story’ has often led to a misconstrued understanding of an equivalent EFA success, erroneously reduced to primary education6 to the detriment of developing a holistic vision of education from the outset and impedes cross-sectorial partnerships.
With little time left to reach these important goals for all societies and communities, it is all the more important to look for:

  • An analyse and evaluation of activities undertaken to date,

  • The identification of gaps, bottlenecks, unreached populations and their analyse;

  • Proposals for new approaches especially in areas where thus far results have not been as positive as expected;

  • Adapted solutions to local needs and issues;

  • An involvement of all possible partners because education extends well beyond the classroom and because multidisciplinarity is one of the drivers of innovation;

The International Association of Universities (IAU) has strong reasons to believe that higher education, as a sector, indeed has much to contribute to achieving EFA:

  • Higher education is responsible for training teachers or is at least responsible for the training of teachers’ trainers.

  • Higher education plays a role in promoting students’ social and civic responsibilities, i.e. the next generation of workers, thinkers and leaders;

  • Academic research produces a wealth of expertise, knowledge and innovation that is evidence-based, long-term, and which involves researchers, students, communities from a same region, but also associated researchers/students from other regions or countries ;

  • Community engagement (CE) is increasingly becoming a core mandate of higher education institutions globally7 even though it is not always considered a priority.

For these reasons, IAU has been actively advancing the idea that higher education should be considered as an important actor in achieving national EFA goals, advocating for strengthening partnerships with the higher education sector and raising visibility of initiatives and potential.


In 2011, IAU launched its second multi-year project, entitled Higher Education/Research for EFA (and MDGs). It includes the scaling up of the capacity building session model tested in Mexico8 and Burkina Faso9 in 2010, within the framework of the first project on the topic, which is the purpose of this document.

II Rationale
Higher education needs to be drawn more effectively into EFA strategies and activities and recognised as a concrete partner in this process. Its expertise as a sector with Faculties, Departments and Laboratories – and not as individuals offering consultancy work - should be engaged and actively sought out by Ministries, local educational administrative bodies, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), schools, etc. On the other hand, higher education also needs to see itself as a viable and invaluable partner and to examine its own instruction, research and outreach activities and how these are linked or could relate to EFA.
While a change is slowly emerging on the global agenda and international commitments10, the question remains how this is translated locally and in concrete terms and actions. IAU findings from previous projects and discussions at the IAU Conference on higher education for EFA (December 2010, Paris, France) revealed that:

  • The higher education community as a whole is still insufficiently aware of EFA;

  • The full potential of the different missions of higher education institutions and the variety of expertise they house and produce are still not systematically exploited in the pursuit of EFA;

  • If linked, the channel from higher education to EFA remains primarily dominated by and narrowly limited to teacher education.

At the same time, opportunities to raise awareness of higher education’s possible contribution for EFA remain largely non-existent. Even though capacity building for EFA does exist, on the whole IAU has found that it tends to be:

  • Narrow in scope, dealing solely with one or two domains, (for example, gender issues or teacher training); or

  • Narrow in targeted population, often directed at either (1) Ministries of Education to reinforce policy development, implementation, management and evaluation at the national level or (2) civil society to strengthen project development, implementation and assessment.

Consequently, IAU has designed a Collaborative Workshop which objective, outcomes, content, participants and overall organization are described below.

III Collaborative Workshop
Objective: The objective of the Collaborative Workshop is to increase local higher education involvement in EFA in order to help reach the EFA Goals by:

  1. Raising awareness of EFA in the higher education community;

  2. Raising understanding on how/why the higher education sector could collaborate with the other EFA stakeholders;

  3. Initiating a dialogue between the higher education sector and the other EFA stakeholders on local EFA needs/issues;

  4. Identifying existing initiatives and enhancing their visibility by posting them on the HEEFA Portal11;

  5. Collectively developing a way(s) forward/next steps plan that allows for actions/activities within the legal and administrative framework of the country where the Workshop takes place;

  6. Initiate reflection on how to include higher education in a possible post-2015 agenda;

  7. Communicating with the Workshop’s leading organisational partners on the implementation of point 5 and possible joint follow-up activities.

Outcomes: The expected outcomes of the Collaborative Workshop are:

  1. The higher education and research community is aware of EFA;

  2. The work accomplished by higher education institutions in EFA-related fields is identified;

  3. Collaborative ways forward/next steps plans are adopted and implemented;

  4. Higher education institutions undertake projects, set up programmes and/or research-based interventions on issues linked to EFA in collaboration with other EFA stakeholders;

  5. More EFA-related projects managed by higher education institutions are available on the HEEFA Portal;

  6. The higher education for EFA community is growing.

Content: The Collaborative Workshop is designed to provide an opportunity to develop understanding, capacities and a commitment of increased higher education engagement through an intensive collective exercise of information sharing, dialogue and agreement on concrete ways forward/next steps to strengthen higher education contribution for achieving EFA at the local level.

Each Workshop and results will be unique as both will developed within the context and realities of the host country (or region).

Participants: The Collaborative Workshop takes place at the national (or regional) level and involves primarily local participants. As such, it will bring together:

  1. The local higher education and research community (heads of institutions, researchers, faculty, administrative staff, students);

  2. The main local EFA stakeholders: Ministries of Education and Finance, governmental education bodies, teachers, parents’ organizations, NGOs;

  3. A local/regional UNESCO representative;

  4. Representative(s) from the IAU Reference Group on HE for EFA12 if possible one from the region where the Workshop will take place, another one from a different region;

  5. IAU Secretariat.

The host country organisers are essential in the identification and selection of local participants from among key actors and competent authorities to ensure a good representation of all stakeholders. High-level representatives bring buy-in power to the Workshop’s outcomes and their implementation.

Exploring and promoting innovative partnerships and collaborative projects amongst and between stakeholders – especially those which go beyond the traditional donor-beneficiary dialectic - is one of our objectives. This is the reason why the proposed series of sessions deliberately omits the active participation of representatives from donor and cooperation agencies, while welcoming them as observers.
Overall Organisation: The Collaborative Workshop takes place in three stages – all developed in an established and effective collaboration with the local organizer(s) - as follows:

  1. Pre-Workshop: Definition and Data Collection

60 days prior

Local partner institution identified and agreement reached with IAU

Liaison person identified by partner institution

The list of participants and programme are drafted.

30 days prior

Each identified and confirmed participant is required to reflect on the links between higher education/research and EFA and respond to a questionnaire developed by IAU and the IAU Reference Group on HE for EFA which aggregated results will constitute the overarching framework for discussion at the Workshop.

Documentation (questionnaire replies, local projects, speakers’ biographies, presentations, etc) are collected and edited.

Identification of invited and host HEI strategies on knowledge exchange and implementation (optional)

  1. Workshop: Dialogue for a Common Project

2 days

The workshop begins with a general overview of what is being done globally in the field to become familiar with “EFA language” and to create a common knowledge base. It is followed by information-sharing of activities undertaken by local stakeholders to highlight national projects, policies and existing partnerships (1/2 day; Plenary).

The rest of the Workshop is devoted to jointly discussing concrete ways(s) forward/next steps identifying who could do what, why, with whom and how. Participants will be asked to identify and analyse the areas in EFA that need urgent attention, the obstacles in meeting these areas, and how best to engage and reinforce higher education’s involvement. The data collected from the first stage provides the framework for this part of the Workshop (1 ½ day; Small groups and plenary sessions).

A side session on the IAU Portal on Higher Education and EFA (http://www.heefa.net) developed by the IAU to provide visibility to projects and experts from the higher education community on EFA is organized for interested participants on the following day (1/2 day).

  1. Post-Workshop: Communication and Follow-up

The concrete outcomes, lessons learned and experiences are shared and made available through existing IAU information products, events, and networks.

IAU communicates with the local organizer(s) to follow up on the workshop outcomes and disseminate information worldwide on those. Participants of each Workshop will be invited to become Members of the HEEFA community, and as such will be able to post, share and discuss issues surrounding HE and EFA, the implementation of their way(s) forward/next steps, new projects with their peers on an online platform.

IAU periodically calls upon participants to contribute to IAU publications and information tools.
IV Organisers
The primary organisers are the IAU Secretariat with technical assistance from the IAU Reference Group on HE for EFA.

The organisation of each Workshop requires the direct support of at least an IAU Member institution or an IAU Reference Group Member. This partner, in distance collaboration with the IAU Secretariat, is in charge of the organisation locally, including the search for the support from its Ministries and other local stakeholders.

The local organising partner designates a contact person who will be responsible to liaise in an on-going and consistent manner between IAU and all the participants. This requires reliable electronic communication between IAU and the designated contact person.
At and after the meeting, IAU’s role is to create a stimulating environment for reflection and facilitate dialogue among participants and to foster on-going communication and community building. IAU and its invited experts will not orientate nor influence outcomes and solutions.

V Dates and location
IAU is proposing to organise two Workshops in 2012. The location will be selected through a call of expressed interest open to IAU Reference Group institutions.

Locations must take place in a non-OECD country.

Ideally the first session would be conducted in Africa in September 2012. The second session would occur in the Caribbean/Latin American region in late October, prior to the IAU General Conference (27-30 November).
Other Workshops are slated until 2015 with an open call for participation to all IAU Member Institutions and IAU Reference Group institutions.

A search for additional funding is also planned to take place.

1 Six EFA Goals: Early childhood care and education; free universal primary education; youth and adult life skills; adult literacy increased by half and adult education; gender parity in primary and secondary education; quality education

2 The EFA High-level Group meeting is an annual event bringing together high-level representatives from national governments, development agencies, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector to generate political momentum and mobilize support towards the achievement of the EFA goals.

3 Eight MDGs: Eradicate extreme poverty; Achieve universal primary education; Promote gender equality; Reduce child mortality; Improve maternal health; Combat HIV; Ensure environmental sustainability; Develop a global partnership for development

4 The central role of education in the Millennium Development Goals, UNESCO, UNICEF, Save the Children, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, 2010

5 EFA Global Monitoring Report 2011. The hidden crisis: Armed conflict and education, EFA Global Monitoring Report team, 2011 p. 5.

6 See Final Report of the IAU Innovation Conference on Higher education/research and EFA/related MDGs, 2-3 Dec 2010, Paris, France.

7 In Indonesia or South Africa, for example, CE is part of HEIs’ missions by law.

8 The first Workshop was piloted in Cuernavaca, at the regional level of the State of Morelos in Mexico from 25-26 May with the University Autonoma del Estado de Morelos, at the invitation of Alejandro Chao Barona, a Member of the IAU Reference Group on HE for EFA

9 A second Workshop was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 8-9 July 2010 in collaboration the Université de Ouagadougou and the Minister of Basic Education. See IAU Website for both Workshop outcomes: http://www.iau-aiu.net/

10 The 2011 Jomtien Declaration (March 2011, Jomtien, Thailand) adopted at the UNESCO Meeting of the High-Level Group on EFA, clearly refers for the first time to higher education and research as follows: “higher education and research play a critical part in improving the quality of education”.

11 Within the broader scope of IAU overall work, IAU has been developing tools to raise awareness of the contribution of higher education in achieving EFA. This includes the development of the IAU Portal on Higher Education and EFA (HEEFA, for short: www.heefa.net). It comprises two databases: a database of EFA-related projects conducted by higher education institutions; a database of experts from the higher education sector. The Portal aims to become the main entry point for anyone looking for projects or experts from the higher education sector in the different fields covered by EFA.

12 The Reference Group on higher education and EFA was created following the recommendations made at the IAU Experts’ Seminar on Higher Education and EFA, held in Maputo, Mozambique, January 25-26, 2007. See Annexe III for a detailed list of RG Members.

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