The Education for All Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI) is an international partnership currently supported by 15 contributing donors.
The UK has been leading an FTI Fragile States Task Team to explore how the FTI might better support education in fragile states. The Task Team met on 21 May and subsequently reported to the FTI's Technical Meeting, in Bonn on 24-25 May.
The issue of fragile states and fragility was also considered at meetings of the Expanded Catalytic Fund Strategy Committee, the Education Programme Development Fund (EPDF) Task Force and the Capacity Development Task Team. Donors acknowledged that countries with weak capacity but strong political will need support to access funds to deliver education services while developing their sector plans.
The Technical Meeting agreed broad endorsement for extraordinary support for such countries and that an interim means of support is needed beyond the existing FTI architecture. The Fragile States Task Team is developing a framework that could be used by governments and donors to measure a country's progress towards FTI endorsement and whether interim financing could be used effectively. It will be piloted in Somalia by UNICEF Somalia.
As there is no internationally agreed list of conflict and post-conflict countries, the FTI Fragile States Task Team has agreed to use the definition of fragile states from the World Bank's 2007 Global Monitoring Report.1 The FTI Partnership is already providing direct support to a number of countries regarded as fragile states. The FTI has endorsed eight such countries (Cambodia, Djibouti, The Gambia, Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste), of which six have benefited from the FTI's Catalytic Fund. 11 countries (Afghanistan, Burundi, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Haiti, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Timor-Leste) have benefitted from the EPDF. On 23 May the Catalytic Fund Strategy Committee approved an allocation of US $13.9 million for Sierra Leone for 2007-09.
Sixteen countries regarded as fragile states (Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Togo, Vanuatu) are working towards FTI endorsement during 2007-08.
The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) hold an annual Week of Action aimed at raising awareness of the importance of Education for All. The 2006 Week of Action (24-30 April 2006) included a focus on the global shortage of teachers. Following the Week of Action many schools across the United Kingdom discussed the issues and subsequently raised their concerns with their local Members of Parliament or through direct correspondence. My Department received about 80 letters from schools. Most of the letters asked the Government to help provide more teachers for those children living in poorer parts of the world.
It is estimated that 18 million extra teachers will be needed globally to provide every child with a quality primary education. Teachers are vital to quality education and are important if we are to achieve the millennium development goal of universal primary education by 2015.
Last year, the UK Government committed £8.5 billion to be spent over the next 10 years in support of education in developing countries. This long-term commitment will help to recruit and train more teachers, get more pupils into and completing school and improve the quality of education being provided.
The GCE's 2007 Week of Action took place on 23-29 April. The theme was Education as a Human Right. I look forward to receiving further letters from school children concerned about education for children in poor countries.