Balancing Priorities: Basic and Higher Education
Comment was also provoked on the issue of restructuring priorities within the education sector to ensure allocation of available resources to the most cost-effective inputs, to give more emphasis to basic education, or to ensure a more equitable balance of resources between basic and other levels of education. This proposition raised a concern among some delegates lest their countries be permanently confined to the lower rungs on the educational ladder:
The priority to basic education, although legitimate, since it is founded on equity and social justice, does not signify exclusivity: other levels and types of education, notably technical education and professional training, as well as higher education, must still receive our attention, since we still need middle-level and higher level cadres.
Message of President Diouf
Reassurances were given that such exclusivity was not being advocated:
A scientifically literate population is essential for economic development in this decade. To compete internationally, developing countries must be able to select and adapt modern technology. Systems of higher education must be strengthened to train scientists, engineers, managers and other professionals who will lead the national development effort into the next century.
President, World Band
One delegate agreed strongly with this perspective, but stated the concern of Latin America that such ideas were not taken into account in the documents:
Either the transfer of high-level technology and scientific research will burst upon the Third World with great force, or we will continue to be condemned to elementary forms of organization, to unacceptably low living standards and to levels of economic development which even in the best of circumstances would barely exceed subsistence.
The World Declaration was amended to incorporate such a perspective. (See Preamble and Article 2.2.)
NGOs shall be part of all formal structures for the implementation of EFA at all levels: local, national, regional and international from the outset, particularly in the development and implementation of national plans, which NGOs feel is of paramount importance.
Statement of Principles
NGO Jomtien Committee