With the advent of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), existing education partnerships are re-assessing how best they can pool their knowledge and efforts to achieve the ambitious global goal in education (SDG4). One of those partnerships is the E-9 Initiative, established at the Education for All Summit in New Delhi in 1993. From an international perspective the E-9 countries – Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan – are a distinct constituency. As a group they constitute the nine most highly-populated countries of the Global South and represent 53% of the global population. Over two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults and over half of the world’s out-of-school children reside in these countries. They have acute, and often similar, education challenges to overcome.
This time it was the turn of Bangladesh to assume the rotating presidency of the E-9 initiative and host the ministerial meeting, which took place in Dhaka on 4-6 February. The GEM Report, in collaboration with UNESCO, prepared a background note for the meeting, which served as a basis for discussion on possible future areas of focus of the E-9 initiative.
A starting point in discussions was one of the key recommendations in the note taken from the 2016 GEM Report, which called on countries to exchange ideas more frequently on good practices in key education policies – not so much at the global level, where differences of context are extensive, but at the level of regional and other groupings.
The final declaration expressed the commitment of the participating countries to engage in:
4.6 Policy dialogues involving education authorities, universities, civil society, and other stakeholders in E-9 countries and within regional platforms to evolve appropriate policy responses and programmatic interventions required to facilitate achievement of education sector development goals and targets set by E-9 countries.
4.8 Joint advocacy by the E-9 countries for promoting the adoption of effective education policies/practices and for influencing global education policies, including through regional platforms, and ensuring that these policies reflect common educational concerns and priorities of the nine countries;
The background note presented four potential areas where such policy dialogue and joint advocacy could focus – all of which were informed by analysis in the 2016 GEM Report:
- integrated policy and planning, especially collaboration across sectors;
- financing of education, especially urging a greater focus on equity;
- national learning assessments, with respect to the issue of building capacity; and
- monitoring, review and reporting.
On this last point the declaration also expressed the intention of the countries to promote the:
4.7 Assessment and analysis of education developments in each E-9 country and preparation of E-9 specific biennial Education Monitoring Report facilitated by the E-9 Secretariat in collaboration with the Global Education Monitoring Report (…);
We stand ready to support countries in the E-9 initiative to prepare a monitoring report that responds to their needs. We also look forward to learning from the policy dialogues and advocacy taking place through the E-9’s platform in order to help guide other regions to consider doing the same. Such steps are a practical way to implement the goals in the sustainable development agenda: to move from commitments on paper to concrete items in the education plans and policies at the national level.