24 June 2006
The CARK Education Forum is the annual meeting of national policy makers, technical experts and programme planners in education of the five Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan established as a follow-up institutional mechanism to the World Education Forum (Dakar, 2000). The 5 countries have joined their efforts for regional cooperation towards the solution of key problems and challenges on a common platform. The Forum has become an institutional venue for identifying, debating and discussing priority issues in education. It also has established a mechanism for decision-making through the Executive Committee that meets twice a year and the technical experts through thematic working groups.The first CARK Education Forum was held in 2002 in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This was the first opportunity for each of the country to provide an overview of its own situation in the area of education. It covered a wide range of problems and concerns, from bigger issues such as policy reforms, investments and financing, access and quality, standards, etc.
The Second CARK Education Forum took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2003. The Forum focussed on discussions for improvement of National Plans of Action on EFA, establishment of national coalitions, and the EFA progress monitoring. It adopted a resolution confirming commitment to the EFA in its "expanded vision of basic education" in the context of the six EFA goals. It further emphasized the importance of community participation not only in the implementation of education policies, plans and programs, but also in their development and integration.
The Third CARK Education Forum was in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2004. The Forum centred on "Gender and Education in Central Asia" and discussed other priority concerns in CARK such as HIV/AIDS and Education and creating favourable environments for boys and girls education in child-friendly schools. The Forum adopted a resolution to strengthen promotion of general EFA priorities in the region.
In 2005, Tajikistan hosted the Fourth CARK Education Forum in Dushanbe. The meeting was devoted to the issue of improved quality and access to education through the reform of education systems. The resolution adopted during this meeting re-confirmed the CARK Forum's compliance with the EFA goals, reform and improvement of national educational systems, and a higher level of regional cooperation. In addition, a fifth thematic group on early child development was proposed to be established and led by Turkmenistan.
Based on the consensus reached during the Executive Committee meeting in January 2006, the theme of the 5th CARK Education Forum will be "MOVING FORWARD TO ACHIEVE EFA GOALS". This year's theme is also timely and consistent with the global initiative to undertake the Mid-Decade Assessment of EFA goals in 2006-2007 in preparation for the Medium-Term Review of EFA by 2008.
The Fifth CARK Education Forum of the Central Asian Republics and Kazakhstan (CARK) over three days deliberated on the progress of the countries in the region towards the MDG/EFA goals. Every year, delegations from five countries - Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan gather together to discuss the achievements and challenges of EFA implementation. This year's forum was held in Ashgabat for the first time, between 13-15 June, 2006. CARK Forum was organised by UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office in collaboration with UNICEF Central Asia country offices.
The Forum was attended by more than 100 participants consisting of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and heads of educational systems of the CARK countries and representatives of UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office, WB, USAID, UNESCO Bangkok, UNESCO Tashkent country Office and UNICEF Regional, HQ and Country Offices.
There were various presentations by experts on the EFA Global Monitoring Report, Mid-Decade Assessment of the EFA Goals, Gender - beyond parity to equality, Evaluation of Global Education and Multi-lingual Education. Country reports were presented on the six EFA Goals by leaders of delegations from each of the five countries. Country Groups discussed the data gaps and methods of addressing them over the next year paying particular attention to data needs for the MDA in 2006-7 and Review in 2008. Thematic groups on ECD, Girls Education, Adult Literacy and EMIS presented their yearly reports. Discussions over the three days resulted in the adoption of a resolution with various recommendations.
The major recommendations were:
1. To conduct in 2006-2007 the EFA Mid-Decade Assessment, taking into account national capacities, and with the technical assistance of UNESCO, UNICEF and other international organizations
2. To request the Governments of our countries to establish national EFA MDA task forces , consisting of representatives of ministries and agencies, statistics organizations, academic and research institutions, pedagogical community, as well as education-related non-governmental organizations.
3. To request international organizations cooperating with the participating states to provide assistance in collecting data and necessary statistics.
4. To request UNESCO and UNICEF to support the capacity building of the national task forces, especially in data collection and analysis.
5. To charge the thematic groups with providing assistance to the EFA MDA National Task Forces.
Contacts: Ms Inna Melnikova, Education Specialist, UNESCO Cluster Office in Almaty