HE and EFA Project (completed)

The HEEFA Projects

Higher Education (HE) for Education For All (EFA) - HEEFA

Since the launch of the Education for All (EFA) goals, adopted within the Dakar Framework of Action at the World Education Forum in 2000, considerable political and social commitment have been harnessed to support this global education initiative. Countries have galvanised significant human and capital resources both nationally and internationally in achieving these goals.

Soon afterwards, in 2005, IAU began to advocate for greater inclusion of higher education in EFA, both at the national and international levels. The IAU has strong reasons to believe that higher education, as a sector, indeed has much to contribute to achieving EFA:

  • Higher education is responsible for teacher education programs, or is at least responsible for the training of teacher trainers.
  • Higher education plays a role in fostering students’ social development and civic responsibilities, i.e. the next generation of workers, thinkers and leaders;
  • Academic research produces a wealth of expertise, knowledge and innovation that is evidence-based, long-term, and locally relevant;
  • Community engagement is increasingly becoming a core mandate of higher education institutions globally.

IAU HEEFA Project Thus far, IAU has been successful in advancing the idea that higher education and research should be considered as a major actor for reaching EFA. In March 2011, IAU was instrumental to have higher education and research officially recognized for the first time by the EFA High-Level Group responsible for setting the global agenda. More recently, education ministers, cooperation agencies, research institutes and the private sector agreed that higher education and research indeed contributed to EFA (GEM Statement, Paris, 2012). Nonetheless, it’s too premature to stop raising awareness and advocating for higher education participation. The reasons being that:

  • The full potential of the different missions of higher education institutions and the variety of expertise they house and produce are still not systematically exploited in the pursuit of EFA;
  • If linked, higher education involvement remains primarily dominated by and narrowly limited to teacher education;
  • The higher education community as a whole is still insufficiently aware of EFA and inversely, some EFA stakeholders continue to view higher education as a marginal partner, at best.

Learn more about the different multi-year HEEFA projects:

For further information:
Nadja KYMLICKA, Consultant in Education;
Isabelle TURMAINE, IAU Director, Information Centre and Communication Services and Project Director

HEEFA Portal

Portal on Higher Education/Research and Education For All (Maintenance stopped in January 2016)

The HEEFA Portal is a collaborative platform to disseminate information of the work being undertaken by higher education in EFA-related fields and to build up a like-minded community. Its aim is to provide access and visibility to data on higher education projects, documents and experts active in EFA.


  • The higher education community: academia, students, HE administrators as visitors or contributors
  • All other interested stakeholders: intergovernmental organisations, NGOs, Ministries of Education, school administrators and teachers as visitors

The Portal is designed for two types of users:

  • Visitors can search for projects, experts or documents, read the latest news and latest additions to the databases featured on the homepage.
  • Contributors can share information and promote their work by entering related projects and documents, posting their CV, and participating in the forum. Each contributor has a personal online workspace where their data is stored and can be edited at any time.


3 databases:

  • Projects on higher education activities in EFA;
  • Experts working in one or more areas related to EFA;
  • Documents: related theses, articles and reports

HEEFA Newsletter: With +1,000 subscribers and growing, this quarterly newsletter featured news on the IAU HEEFA project and the EFA Movement, events, and publications related to higher education engaged in EFA (in English).

The first page of the Portal offers information on the latest additions in databases and higher education for EFA news as well as a set of pre-defined functionalities as follows:

  • A search for results by EFA goals (top of the screen);
  • A quick search on all content (left-hand side);
  • Several Menu Options (left-hand side): Search the database (for all users); Share your experience (for contributors only); Participate in the community (for contributors only); Subscribe to the Newsletters (for all users)

  • The possibility to change languages from English to French and vice-versa.


The HEEFA Portal is a collaborative portal, it will only be useful if academics and students enter information on their projects, expertise, and theses, share their news with the IAU team to feed the HEEFA Newsletter, and participate in the Forum.

Consequently, your input is not only greatly welcome but necessary.

Register and give additional visibility to your projects, expertise and theses and become part of the HEEFA Community. All processes have been developed to be as simple and straightforward as possible, but please feel free to contact us if you encounter any problem.

Participation is free of charge and your input will not be re-used by our services in any other material without your prior consent.

Reference Group

HEEFA Reference Group:

To accompany the 2011-2015 IAU Project on Higher Education for EFA, the 2008-2010 Reference Group expanded to include a greater number of viewpoints from non-OECD countries, with a particular emphasis given to Africa. Experts were selected based on written statements of interest and expertise while respecting the gender and geographical balance. Most founding members of the 2008-2010 Group renewed their commitment to continue working with IAU.


  • advise on and contribute to the development of the activities defined within the IAU Project;

  • assist in communicating products and results;

  • share expertise, technical materials and work in a collaborative manner;

  • promote the importance of higher education for EFA internally within the higher education institution/ organization as well as externally with partners and networks.

Read the complete Terms of Reference.


  • 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 full list of Members.

The 2008-2010 IAU Project was supported by the 2008-2010 Reference Group which served as an advisory group to develop, implement and communicate activities. Members were participants at the IAU Experts’ Seminar held in Maputo, Mozambique (January 2007) and invited experts engaged in or advocating for higher education for EFA, coming from higher education institutions, cooperation agencies and associations, and the IAU.


International Meeting "HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements"

The Final Report of the International Meeting "HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements" organised by the IAU, in partnership with the Jaume Bofill Foundation, has been released. The meeting took place in Barcelona, Spain from 7 to 9 October 2015 and brought together representatives from higher education institutions and organisations in 26 countries as well as UNESCO. Building on the success of the IAU HEEFA (Higher Education for Higher Education for All) project, the international meeting provided an opportunity for the higher education community to discuss the place and role of higher education in the Education 2030 Framework For Action that supports the Sustainable Development Goal No. 4 on Education.

IAU HEEFA-ICT4IAL Follow-up Seminar:
As the third phase of the IAU HEEFA Project draws to close, the IAU organized a 2-day invitation-only Follow-up Seminar. Organized in collaboration with the Hacettepe University, an IAU member, it was held on 18-19 November 2014 in Ankara, Turkey. It was also co-organized with a second project in which IAU plays a partner role: the ICT for information accessibility in learning (ICT4IAL) Project led by the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education. 32 Participants from 22 countries reviewed the outcomes of the IAU HEEFA Workshops and the HEEFA Portal, discussed the IAU position on higher education after 2015 and provided feedback on the draft e-accessibility guidelines.

Download the final report of the Seminar.

IAU Innovation Conference

Innovation Conference

IAU organised an Innovation Conference on Higher Education/Research and EFA/education-related MDGs and end-of-project Meeting (Paris, December 2010). 50 experts and representatives from international organisations, NGOs and development agencies, including the IAU Reference Group on HEEFA, evaluated progress made for improved inclusion of higher education in EFA, reviewed the IAU project’s outcomes and explored ways forward. A special session was organised on possible links between higher education and other education sectors in the wake of a natural disaster starting from an examination of Haiti with first-hand accounts from Haitian and Caribbean universities.

Experts’ Seminar

The IAU Experts’ Seminar (Maputo, January 2007) validated a real need for further exploration of the linkages between higher education and EFA and for IAU to spearhead this work, thus serving as a springboard for the next phase.

Capacity building

IAU HEEFA Workshop Mexico Organized in partnership with an IAU Member institution/organisation, the IAU Collaborative Workshop: A three-step activity to envision higher education for Education for All locally brings together high-level representatives from the higher education community, relevant Ministries, educational bodies, civil society and schools, to discuss how to draw higher education more effectively and efficiently into local EFA activities. Participants are invited in a three-step process to “think out of the box” and to collectively develop a concrete action plan to strengthen higher education’s contribution in achieving EFA within the host country.

Step one is data collection from the participants who must reflect on how they perceive the link between higher education and EFA by completing the IAU Questionnaire on how higher education institutions could be better involved in EFA-related actions at the regional/national level. Step two is the Workshop during which participants analyze the questionnaire results and identify EFA priorities and ways how to better engage higher education. Step three is the follow-up actions undertaken by the participants to implement the Workshop outcomes.

Wish to collaborate in organising a Workshop? Read the Call for Participation.

IAU has already organised Workshops with:

Information sharing

Portal on Higher Education/Research for Education for All (HEEFA Portal): A collaborative platform to build on work undertaken by higher education in related-EFA fields, find an expert, or read publications, articles and discussions.

IAU Information Kit, Why and How Can Higher Education Contribute to All Levels and Types of Education?, clearly and concretely answers the essential questions of what, why, how, where, and who to enhance the awareness of higher education institutions for a better involvement of the higher education sector in EFA and related MDGs. It highlights cases of how higher education and research is and/or could be engaged (Published in July 2009).