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HEEFA Project

HEEFA has been developed by the International Association of Universities (IAU), supported with technical assistance from the IAU Reference Group on Higher Education for EFA.

HEEFA aims to serve as a main-entry point for data collection and information on higher education projects, experts and research documentation for Education For All (EFA). It intends to raise awareness within the higher education sector and among other interested stakeholders (IO, NGOs, Ministries of Education, school administrators and teachers) on the important role that higher education can play in achieving EFA goals. 

This Portal is part of a larger and comprehensive IAU project to raise visibility and strengthen higher education's contribution for EFA. It is funded in part by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).

Watch the interview with Isabelle Turmaine, IAU Director of Information Projects and Services, on EDtalks where she describes the HEEFA Project and Portal in detail. The interview was conducted during the World Literacy Summit (Oxford, UK, May 2014).

With the launch of the EFA movement in 1990, education has increasingly become a major issue at both the national and international levels. International organisations, governments, civil society and increasingly the private sector have centrally positioned education development in their policies and strategies. The UN MDGs comprise two of its objectives: universal primary education and gender equality. Global commitment and importance admonished to education reflects the realisation that sustainable economic development necessarily requires a critical mass of an educated workforce. Indeed, education does also impact all sectors: health, democracy, security, etc. But, even if some voices advocate a holistic approach in education, higher education and research are quasi-absent from these movements. Furthermore, there exists relatively little systemic research, data and discussion about higher education involvement in these movements and how to enhance it.

In 2005, IAU set out to investigate and demonstrate how inter-university linkages and research cooperation between industrialised and developing countries contribute to achieving EFA goals, culminating in an Experts’ Seminar held in Maputo, Mozambique, January 2007. Participating experts and cooperation agency representatives alike deemed higher education involvement in EFA as insufficient, identifying IAU to spearhead the next phase and to act as global convener for further discussions. Observed obstacles to strengthening linkages between higher education and research activities and the EFA movement were (1) the lack of adapted and better focused information on EFA and Poor dissemination of existing involvement; (2) results of projects undertaken by the higher education sector. Read final report here.

Since then, IAU has been successfully advancing the idea that higher education and research should be considered as a major actor for reaching EFA and education MDGs through its projects: 2008-2010 project, Strengthening Linkages for Improved Education: Higher Education and Research Working for EFA and education-related MDGs and recently launched 2011-2015 Higher Education/Research for EFA (and MDGs). To raise awareness of the important role that higher education can play in EFA, The Higher Education and EFA Portal has been developed to address the need for (1) systematic organised data on what EFA and MDGs encompass and (2) documented work and results being undertaken by higher education and research in EFA-related areas.

The official integration of higher education and research in the 2011 Jomtien Statement is a clear indication of the nascent place in the EFA Movement. Marking the 20-year anniversary of the World Declaration on EFA, the 2011 Declaration was adopted at the UNESCO Meeting of the High-level Group on EFA, which role is to generate political and financial support and set the global agenda for EFA.
International Association of Universities (IAU)
The International Association of Universities, founded in 1950 under the auspices of UNESCO, is an international NGO, which brings together higher education institutions and organisations from over 120 countries for reflection and action on common concerns. With its extensive geographical coverage and diverse activities, the IAU aims to represent and defend the interests of higher education in the world, giving expression to the obligation of higher education institutions as social institutions, and contributes, through international cooperation, to the overall strengthening of higher education.

Known for its role as a clearinghouse of authoritative and accurate information, IAU is well-placed to develop information tools on higher education and research, providing such resources to scholars, researchers, policy makers, NGOs and interested individuals around the world.

Institutions and associations wanting to join IAU can read more at: www.iau-aiu.net
IAU Reference Group on Higher Education and EFA
The IAU Reference Group was founded at the outcome of the IAU Experts' Seminar (Maputo, January 2007) which had explored the possible link between higher education and EFA and any potential interest. Comprised principally of the Seminar's participants, and later expanded in 2011, the Reference Group was set up as an advisory group to develop, implement and communicate activities of IAU HEEFA projects.


The Reference Group is composed of academics and higher education representatives.
Its Members represents all regions: 9 from Africa, 6 from the Americas, 4 from Asia and 7 from Europe.
It is chaired by an IAU Board Member. Prof. Olive Mugenda, Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University and IAU Vice-President, is the current Chairperson.

See Reference Group member list