Achieving the Education for All (EFA) goals can only become a reality through the intensive involvement of civil society including the teachers’ unions. But are governments really involving the unions? EI and a large number of civil society organisations convened in Dakar in September to discuss the status quo on EFA, at the halfway point to 2015.
After three days of deliberations the Collective Consultation of Non Governmental Organisations (CCNGO) concluded that there are ample examples of successful interfaces between the state and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on education policy dialogue and the EFA process. However, in many countries, governments either ignore the crucial role of civil society organisations or simply give them token roles to play. Many governments and donor organisations still do not regard civil society as full and genuine partners - they fail to institutionalise the presence of CSOs in the structures and mechanisms surrounding EFA processes.
Concern was also expressed about some states forming or co-opting CSOs, thereby undermining the integrity of genuine civil society. The representatives at the CCNGO meeting, who came from all continents, concluded that it is necessary to "institutionalise CSO participation in all EFA-related bodies at all levels and in all phases of education action plans and programmes including impact assessment" and to "encourage a culture of democracy within which institutionalised dialogue on EFA, the right to organise freely and the freedom of expression are promoted."
These conclusions are in full support of the paper that was presented by Education International at the meeting. This paper highlighted the fact that despite progress made in a number of countries, all too often governments refuse to talk openly and at a timely stage with teachers' unions. Both documents - the CCNGO statement and the EI paper – are available on this website.