1. This Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs derives from the World Declaration on Education for All, adopted by the World Conference on Education for All, which brought together representatives of government, international and bilateral development agencies, and non-governmental organization. Based on the best collective knowledge and the commitment of these partners, the Framework is intended as a reference and guide for national governments, international organizations, bilateral aid agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and all those committed to the goal of Education for All, in formulating their own plans of action for implementing the World Declaration. It describes three broad levels of concerted action: (i) direct action within individual countries, (ii) cooperation among groups of countries sharing certain characteristics and concerns, and (iii) multilateral and bilateral cooperation in the world community.
2. Individual countries and groups of countries, as well as international, regional and national organisations, may use the Framework to develop their own specific plans of action and programmes in line with their particular objectives, mandates and constituencies. This indeed has been the case in the ten-year experience of the UNESCO Major Project on Education for Latin America and the Caribbean. Further examples of such related initiatives are the UNESCO Plan of Action for the Eradication of Illiteracy by the Year 2000, adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 25th session (1989); the ISESCO Special Programme (1990-2000); the current review by the World Bank of its policy for primary education; and USAID's programme for Advancing Basic Education and Literacy. Insofar as such plans of action, policies and programmes are consistent with this Framework, efforts throughout the world to meet basic learning needs will converge and facilitate cooperation.
3. While countries have many common concerns in meeting the basic learning needs of their populations, these concerns do, of course, vary in nature and intensity from country to country depending on the actual status of basic education, as well as the cultural and socioeconomic context. Globally, by the year 2000, if enrolment rates remain at current levels, there will be more than 160 million children without access to primary schooling simply because of population growth. In much of sub-Saharan Africa and in many low income countries elsewhere, the provision of universal primary education for rapidly growing numbers of children remains a long-term challenge. Despite progress in promoting adult literacy, most of these same countries still have high illiteracy rates, while the numbers of functionally illiterate adults continue to grow and constitute a major social problem in much of Asia and the Arab States, as well as in Europe and North America. Many people are denied equal access on grounds of race, gender, language, disability, ethnic origin, or political convictions. In addition, high drop-out rates and poor learning achievement are commonly recognized problems throughout the world. These very general characterisations illustrate the need for decisive action on a large scale, with clear goals and targets.
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