Paying for Education:How the World Bank & IMF Influence Education inDeveloping Countries
ByNancy C. Alexander
The 1980s are sometimes described as a lost development decade. School enrollmentsslumped. The tremendous progress toward universal primary education during the twentyyears, 1960-1980, was arrested or reversed in many countries.In 1990, the Education for All (EFA) Conference in Jomtien, Thailand made an urgent appealto governments, donors and creditors to address the decline in basic education. Donor governments and creditors, including the World Bank, made commitments to help developingcountries achieve education for all.In June 1996, a conference was convened in Amman, Jordan to assess progress since theEducation for All (EFA) Conference in Jomtien, Thailand. UNICEF cites the findings of theconference report:Overall, primary enrolment was the brightest sign of progress by mid-decade, withsome 50 million more children in developing countries enrolled in primary school thanin 1990. Discouragingly, however, this figure only managed to keep pace with thenumbers of children entering the 6- to 11-year old age group over the period.
Unsatisfactory progress was noted in some regions – south Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.Progress in educating girls had also been disappointing:During the five years following the conference, little gain was recorded in thedeveloping world in girls’ primary enrolment as it rose only by a fraction of a decimalpoint, from 45.4% in 1990 to 45.8% in 1995. The gender gap in adult literacy actuallywidened over the same period.
This document was written for Oxfam America. Portions of it may be found in other publications by the author,including: “Accountability to Whom: The World Bank and Its Strategic Allies,” published in Derde Wereld in May,1998; various issues of “News & Notices for World Bank Watchers;” “NGOs in the International Monetary andFinancial System,” (with Charles Abugre) in
International Monetary and Financial Issues for the 1990s,
published by UNCTAD; “Financing for Development,” published by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.
The author is Director of the Globalization Challenge Initiative; former Director of the Development BankWatchers’ Project at Bread for the World Institute; former Director of Government Relations at Bread for theWorld; former Legislative Advocate, Friends Committee on National Legislation. Her degrees are from Dukeand Harvard University.
State of the World’s Children Report
, draft, 1998, p. 15.
Ibid., p. 15