The importance of education is obvious. It is a fundamental right and no country has succeeded without educating its people. Education is the key to sustaining growth and reducing poverty and helps to improve security, health, prosperity and ecological balance in the world. It encourages social, economic and cultural progress, tolerance and international cooperation. It is probably the single most effective means of curbing population growth, reducing child mortality, eradicating poverty and ensuring democracy, peace and sustainable development. This academic paper will, therefore, identify the themes or resolutions presented at the Jomtein conferences on education for all in 1990. It will further highlight how Zambia has performed in implementing these resolutions of educational development.

The Jomtein conference on education for all took place in Thailand, in March 1990 in the small coastal town of Jomtien. Governments as well as representatives from varied organizations agreed to take the necessary steps to universalize primary education and massively reduce illiteracy before the end of the decade, as well as to expand early childhood education, improve learning achievement, reduce the male-female literacy gap, expand basic education opportunities for youth and adults and use all available communication channels to promote knowledge, skills and values for better living.

The terms of reference of the Jomtein conferences on education for all in 1990 were recalling that education is a fundamental right for all people, women and men, of all ages, throughout our world; understanding that education can help ensure a safer, healthier, more prosperous and environmentally sound world, while simultaneously contributing to social, economic, and cultural progress, tolerance, and international cooperation; knowing that education is an indispensable key to, though not a sufficient condition for, personal and social improvement and recognizing that traditional knowledge and indigenous cultural heritage have a value and validity in their own right and a capacity to both define and promote development.

Others included, acknowledging that, overall, the current provision of education is seriously deficient and that it must be made more relevant and qualitatively improved, and made universally available; recognizing that sound basic education is fundamental to the strengthening of higher levels of education and of scientific and technological literacy and capacity and thus to self-reliant development; and recognizing the necessity to give to present and coming generations an expanded vision of, and a renewed commitment to, basic education to address the scale and complexity of the challenge.

In other words, the Jomtein conferences on education for all in 1990 focussed on the following areas of educational development of meeting basic learning needs, shaping the vision, universalizing access and promoting equity, focusing on learning, broadening the means and scope of basic education, enhancing the environment for learning strengthening partnerships, developing a supportive policy context, mobilizing resources and strengthening international solidarity.

At the World Education Forum, held in Dakar in April 2000, the aim of EFA was reaffirmed and operationalized as six major goals; two of which were also adopted in the same year as constituting the Millennium Development Goals. These goals are: expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children; ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality; and ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programmes.

Other goals were achieving a 50% improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults; eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality; and improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

Since the international community meet at Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and agreed on the framework for provision of Education for All (EFA) by 2015, Zambia like many other countries took up the challenge almost immediately. However, due to limited resources, heavy indebtedness and