Place your vote: do we need a new global education framework after 2015?

How can a renewed vision for education after 2015 and an overall global development framework complement each other? Do we need a global education framework to replace Education for All? Continuing confusion over these key questions was apparent when representatives from Western Europe and North America met in Paris last week for a regional consultation meeting on education after 2015, co-hosted by UNESCO and UNICEF.

With time ticking past, it is vital to be clear whether a global education framework will be developed, and what it might look like. Participants at last week’s meeting highlighted the need for a universal framework of relevance to all countries, regardless of their stage of development. They emphasized the need to improve the quality of education, make sure that all children are learning, regardless of their circumstances, and to end the skills deficits that many countries face.

One question that arises is whether a new education framework should continue to be called Education for All (EFA), or whether this would this risk fatigue and confusion over why a new deadline is being set for a similar set of goals. One possible name is an acronym of the elements the global education goal currently being debated. The acronym would ground the goals and subsequent framework in the key principle of equity – making sure that every child and young person has an equal chance of education:

The name of a new framework is just one question, however. The education community – member states, civil society organizations, aid agencies, and all those committed to ensuring everyone has the chance to go to school and learn – must also decide on its shape. Four options seem to be on the table:

• Option 1: A global education goal within whatever broader global development framework succeeds the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but with no supporting post-EFA “EQuEL” framework. The global development framework could be complemented by global and/or national targets, which would be decided and developed by the development community.

• Option 2: A global education goal within a broader post-MDG global development framework, supported by a detailed post-EFA “EQuEL” education framework. The global education framework could also be complemented by global and/or national targets, which would link with the broader development framework while providing more details identified by the education community that would hold education stakeholders to account.

• Option 3: A new post-EFA ‘EQuEL’ education framework, but no global education goal with a broader post-MDG development framework.

• Option 4: No global development or education framework.

• Option 5: perhaps there are other combinations too?

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report team’s position on these options is clear: a global education goal within a broader global development framework, complemented by a more detailed, supporting global education framework. This education framework would have clear, measurable global targets and indicators that could also be backed up with national targets and indicators.

We would like you to share your thoughts about the options: Place your vote here. If you would like to suggest further options or ideas, please write them as a comment below.

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The process of settling on a post-2015 agenda is political as much as it is technical. So it was welcome news that the Paris regional consultation proposed that the EFA Steering Group Task Force begins work on recommendations for new targets and indicators to present in early 2014. These recommendations must be provided in time for member states to provide feedback.

We hope that the experience of the EFA Global Monitoring Report will guide this important technical work: our monitoring over the past decade shows clearly that the EFA goals that were not backed by measurable indicators received the least attention. To underpin progress after 2015, we need to learn from these lessons. It is crucial to track progress for those most at risk of being left behind (including the poor, rural children and girls) so we can narrow the gap between them and those with the best chances for education (such as boys from rich families living in urban areas).

A new report from the UN Secretary-General on these questions is expected to be presented at the UN General Assembly in September 2014. Even though the global education community can and should continue to debate some details, it is vital to settle on post-2015 options for the education sector as soon as possible, before others decide on our behalf.



  1. I thought that some progress had already been made in developing goals, sub-goals and indicators for assessing progress towards post 2015 education goals. For example, the EFA GMR team issued an ‘initial draft for discussion’ in March 2013 along these lines but I may have missed the next stage. Suggestions made in December 2012 by the Commonwealth Ministerial Working Group on the Post 2015 Education Framework were notable for their inclusion of indicators for the achievements in National Learning Assessments of girls and boys from the lowest income quintile, those with special needs, and living in rural or disadvantaged areas. Relevant work on indicators is also being reported by the Learning Metrics Task Force, the OECD the UK Overseas Development Institute and the Centre for International Governance.
    How and by whom will a decision be made on which indicators to use? How will the work now being done reflect the UN General Assembly resolution in the wake of the High Level Meetings on Development in September? And how will the outcome relate to the UN Human Rights mechanisms, such as the CRC and the CRPD?
    It is difficult for an outsider to follow these discussions without knowledge of the status of the many recommendations which have been made in recent global discussions.

  2. Hi Peter

    many thanks for sharing these thoughts which are very important. Indeed progress has been made with proposals being put forward but there is a need to move forward with more concrete decisions, as you indicate. The EFA Steering Committee has established a task force co-led by UNESCO and UNICEF, one of its tasks will be to put forward targets and indicators for consultation hopefully in the coming months. But clarity is still needed on some of the timing of some of the broader processes.


    1. Just as the MDGs provided a focus and rallying cry for the broader development community, so the EFA goals mobilized and stimulated the development of education. However, having two parallel processes was detrimental to progress overall. Often when governments talked of EFA what they really meant was universal primary education. Option 2 risks repeating this problem. If we can manage to shoehorn all the aspirations of EQuEL into the post-2015 development framework without it being perceived as a separate process then I think that will best serve the educationally unserved and under-served. So I voted for 1c.

      Thanks for stimulating discussion and asking for our input!

      Dave Pearson
      SIL International

  3. thanks, David, for raising this which is an important concern. The hope is that this time there would be a possibility of greater synergies between the post-MDG and post-EFA frameworks if that were to happen – but certainly can’t leave it to chance. And could there be a danger that 1c would mean that we could end up with only an MDG-type goal as we don’t have any control over what will be included in the broader development framework?

  4. • Option 2: A global education goal within a broader post-MDG global development framework, supported by a detailed post-EFA “EQuEL” education framework. The global education framework could also be complemented by global and/or national targets, which would link with the broader development framework while providing more details identified by the education community that would hold education stakeholders to account.

  5. Hello all – I felt one major option was not presented here and as far as I can see its currently the only option with regard to education for girls in conflict zones, “School is not a place or person, school and or learning is a natural process, just ask and 2 yr old how to get cookies down from the self – yep problem solving in action.” I live and work in South Thailand and teachers are targets, schools are targets – it was the same when I was in Nepal. We need handheld Socratic tutors that use the learner’s native language and allow for co-learning with other classmates. School and education as it was painfully made aware to me be a family in Pakistan after the floods is a gamble, “my child needs to work now so we have food now not attending a class to learn something he may use 10 yrs from now if he is still alive.” The framework MUST be a mobile centric model with realtime collaborative peer-to-peer access. School buildings can be burt or blown up, teachers shot or scared away – and even if they stay the child needs to go their when getting there could cost them their life or at least their freedom. The technology exists and is 10x cheaper then one fully staffed and furnished school house. We need a radical shift in thinking not the same model with a new name. I have developed a fully working system I call Archie that is narrative-based science education for girls and I did it by myself with no outside funding – thats how we need to do it because the big big money is drying up.

  6. It is very important that global and local or regional education go together in order to sustain all safe development of living situations with peace of all animate and non animate beings.

  7. Can we think education as obligation instead of right? If yes how to meet this obligation. All eligible get basic school education. Lifelong learning may be professed as staying relevant.

  8. Please don’t replace ‘Education for All’ with impenetrable jargon like ‘EQuEL.’ ‘Education for All,’ is not just a name for a program or framework. It is a daily reminder of our reason to get up in the morning. It unites and inspires people across the world. There is no planet on which ‘EQuEL’ will cause less confusion or inspire more passion than ‘Education for All.’

    Priorities and approaches will change over time but the aspiration should not change. For example, mobile communication’s expansion should challenge the meaning of ‘access to education,’ so targets are not focused solely on physical access to a school. It doesn’t mean that access to education is no longer a goal.

    At the end of the day, if someone asks me what I believe in, it is not difficult to say, ‘I believe in Education for All.’ If insiders have slogan fatigue, enliven the slogan. Please don’t toss it out and replace it with jargon that causes people outside the UN to switch off.

  9. Hi Gregory – many thanks for these reflections which are very pertinent. The concern of finding an alternative to EFA relates to views that some have expressed as to whether there is a danger of fatigue if we continue with a third decade of EFA, and so perhaps now is the time to refresh a global education framework with new branding that goes beyond unfinished business. At the same time, the aim would be to have a common framework that unites the broader development agenda with any post-2015 education agenda, rather than setting up two parallel processes as happened over the past 15 years with the education-related MDGs and EFA, to the detriment of the EFA goals that were not part of the MDG framework.

    EQuEL may not be the answer; just as EFA is not popular across the board. But we do need to agree on a simple and clear terminology for our ambitions that does not hinder their success. Are there alternatives that you would you or others would suggest?


  10. Why not concentrate on the emerging educational goals and indicators for the post 2015 SDGs which are concerned with the quality of education, the inclusion of groups previously excluded, what children learn and how long they stay and the training of their teachers?

    Perhaps the reason why EFA and MDG2 left so many children behind is that they were on parallel, non-communicating tracks?

    Education is a human right for which governments need to be accountable to the UN Human Rights monitoring system which is already monitoring the relevant Conventions which have been ratified but ignored by many countries. The UN High Commissioner has asked for this and many documents on post 2015 goals agree that they should be based on human rights. But there’s not much evidence that these systems are being brought together.

    1. Hi Peter

      these are good points. We are proposing that post-2015 goals are monitored according to marginalized groups, for the reasons you suggest. The hope this time is also that post-2015 development and education frameworks will work in synergy, rather than the parallel ones of last time. Let’s hope it is going to be possible to achieve that.

      Bringing together the monitoring of the convention of human rights with monitoring of post-2015 goals, including the right to education, is an interesting idea too.


  11. actually, what is the aim of having a global education framework to replace Education for All and what are the benefits of applying this program?

  12. Interesting and difficult/challenging discussion. I would lean towards 1C, although i can see merit in many of the proposed options. More than a name, i think it is important to look at the results of the EFA and MDG-processes up until now, and build the next stage on the lessons learned. To me it seems that the twin processes has to a certain extent blocked each other out. I also feel that the MDG came to focus too narrowly on the right to education for children only. I work in non formal adult education, and i am concerned that the proposed SDGs might limit themselves to a too narrow area. There can be very little sustainability if adults are not given learning opportunities on par with our children. Illiterate parents are also much less likely to send their children to school. And so on. Actually we tried to pinpoint some of the challenges, results and concerns surrounding these issues in our latest edition of Adult Education and Development. The journal has just been published, and is available free of charge. The topic for our 2014 issue is Post 2015. You can either subscribe (also free of charge), or read it online at
    English version:
    French version:
    Spanish version:

  13. I like the shift towards quality and towards equity (while recognizing that the old focus on “access” is still really necessary). What I hope is that the proces of implementing and monitoring these future goals will be more transparant and involving NGOs. There are so many people and organizations who want to cooperate on this, while much of the formal UN structures only focus on State strategy, in a context of States struggling with war, economic crises and plain poverty. We trried to get involved in the evaluation of the Convention Against Discrimination in Education last year and failed miserably because of the untransparant process and carelessness or unwillingness of officials. UN platforms and bodies will be able to create a much stronger synergy and power when they creates processes in which States, schools and NGOs are more interactively linked in a transparant and productive cooperation process both on access, equity and quality.

  14. A shared common goal – a global goal based on Article 26 of the Declaration of Human Rights is unifying and humane and action at national level with due observation of cultural diversity can be enriching to all when it is shared. Common goals clearly spelled out by world leaders can be the spur to local action that in turn reinforces progress towards global goals – as per
    Kofi Annan promoting literacy as a goal – for all nations:
    “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is a tool for daily life in modern society. It is a bulwark against poverty, and a building block of development, an essential complement to investments in roads, dams, clinics and factories. Literacy is a platform for democratization, and a vehicle for the promotion of cultural and national identity. Especially for girls and women, it is an agent of family health and nutrition. For everyone, everywhere, literacy is, along with education in general, a basic human right…. Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realize his or her full potential.”

  15. Just as MDGs pushed countries to achieve targets quantitatively than qualitatively so is the case with EFA. As for example, gender equality was mostly understood as bringing girls and boys into four walls of schools rather than addressing the causes – patriarchal values – that prohibits boys and girls to attain schools and learn equally. Non-of the proposed options seem to aim for reducing inequalities that are prevailing in the name of caste, class, creed and particularly gender. Education is a enabling right. How can we expect human being of all genders be enabled equally without Gender Equality Education ? Most of people in the developing countries are sick in mentality due to patriarchal system. Unless we address it, one of the key root causes strategically , we may not achieve equality in education. As there is a saying-plant rice if we plan for a year, plant tree if we plan for decade and educate the people if we plan for a century. So, if we envision for peace and development in the nations and in the world at large, there should be equality education, not only equal access to unequality –based patriarchal/sexist education.
    I advocate for Gender Equality Education not gender equality in education. The current framework of EFA, which should be deconstructed and develop new framework that nurtures, and cultivates ‘equality’ in spirit and in deeds.

    Shanta Laxmi Shrestha
    Gender and Eduction Consultant
    Beyond Beijing committee

    1. I just like to add on what Dr. Mosses proposed. Equal access is not sufficient enough . We need new framework for substantive equality ( equality in outcome) and transformation in discriminatory, patriarchal attitude and behavior to contribute towards sustainable equality, peace and prosperity in each nation and in the world at large so that there will be no another war in future.


  17. this is really awesome blog for educational information. I became your daily reader and also subscribe your newsletter for daily updates. Keep posting..

  18. I ‘d like to support Prof Peter Mittler (December 18th 2013) remarks. After Jomtien(1990) and after Daka(2000)r, the EFA concept seemed clear and many NGOs have grasped it and organized efficient programmes with few ressources while members states – including in developed countries- were not really committed to this ambitious challenge.
    Instead of promoting and improving EFA,too many projects ( MDG, Education First…) have been launched disseminating the resources.
    Acronyms are often difficult to be understood but EFA, Education For All, is more understandable than this strange UFO,” EQuEL!”
    Dr Jean-Claude GUILLEMARD, International School Psychology Association(ISPA) former secretary, UNESCO NGO Working Group on Education For All(2000-2012).

  19. Me parece muy bien plantearse el Marco de la Educación Global para el 2015. La Educación debe ser la Responsabilidad de los Estados y de las Comunidades para así avanzar en las oportunidades y en el desarrollo de la Educación de Calidad y mas con el concurso de los Profesores. Gracias al esfuerzo de los Estudiantes y de los ciudadanos en Chile se podrá ir reabriendo las Escuelas Cerradas y con las posibilidades ciertas de cambiar el sistema para que la Educación Pública Gratuita y de Calidad para Todos y para los Pueblos Indígenas prospere y los Profesores como las Comunidades Escolares participen y hagan de la Enseñanza una gran oportunidad para el desarrollo colaborativo y el impulso de la investigación como de la sensibilidad por el arte y la relación con el medio ambiente. No hay mejor que ver la Educación como la exigencia para el Desarrollo Humano.
    Saludos desde Pudahuel en Santiago-Chile.

  20. I think we need updated the framework which effectuate change and inculcate and compliments all aspirations, efforts and shortcomings and focus on the relevance and rights, leverage and learning, context and culture, roles and resources, more importantly equity and quality. Undermining, skill, equity and quality is pressing concern. So it is being essential to build updated robust framework that unlock human potentials and fit to all individual, national and globe.

    1. I concur solely with Dr. Baniya, I just want to add that we need a new transformatory framework for achieving equality not just parity in education for all to unfold innate human potentials not for transmitting current inequitable culture of education but to transform so that all children regardless of their sexual orientations and genders get equal value and equal opportunity and equal control over the systems of education.

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