The World Education Forum, organized by UNESCO and held in 2000 in Dakar, created the "Education For All Framework for Action" under which all participating countries – including Spain – pledged to achieve specific objectives in education by 2015, and confirmed the principle of shared responsibility in achieving this goal.
In the same year, the Millennium Summit, under the auspices of the UN, set specific goals to be achieved in education, such as universal access to primary education by 2015 and the reduction of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 (MDGs 2 and 3). While some countries are very close to achieving these goals, in others the educational situation leaves much to be desired and international cooperation here is indispensable. Education is one of the most important areas of action for the donor community, of which Spain is a member.
In this international context, in recent decades the gender focus has become an essential element in the regulatory framework for education. Together with the promotion of women’s rights, it has become totally consolidated within development assistance. Nevertheless, it remains important to continue strengthening initiatives to ensure real equality in education for women and men.
Both Spanish Cooperation’s Master Plan for 2009-2012 and its education strategy recognise the crucial importance of the education sector as a basic social service, and set out the principles governing Spanish Cooperation in this field. As well as a right, education is the cornerstone of any strategy aimed at combating poverty; it is a life-long evolutionary process, an element of social integration and a force promoting gender equality and sustainable development – all of which are goals addressed in the international commitments outlined above.
The Third Master Plan recognizes five horizontal priorities that are considered crucial to achieving sustainable development outcomes: (i) social inclusion and combating poverty; (ii) democratic governance and the promotion of human rights; (iii) the gender perspective in development; (iv) environmental sustainability; and (v) consideration of the cultural dimension and respect for diversity.