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It’s time for the IFIs to do some spring cleaning

As the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund enter into this year’s Spring Meetings, Education International has released a statement that calls for these international financial institutions to evaluate the efficacy of their work and to take new approaches, ensuring that that their policy and lending aligns fully with the sustainable development goals.

 

Out with the old and in with the new

The 2019 Spring Meetings, held in Washington, mark a turning point for the Bank. Following Jim Kim’s surprise resignation in January, the Bank welcomes its new president, David Malpass, a senior US treasury official nominated by Trump. Leaving aside the disappointing process for appointment (which continued the traditional ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the World Bank and IMF rather than allowing for an open and merit-based based selection process), and the overwhelmingly inappropriate choice of Malpass (who has been highly critical of multilateralism, contributed to the financial crisis as Chief Economist of Bear Stearns investment bank, and has repeatedly downplayed the urgency of the climate crisis), Education International calls on the Bank to use this moment of change to take stock of past failures and move towards more effectively contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

IFIs – clean up your act!

In the statement, EI expresses concern about the current lending practices and policy of the IMF and World Bank, which contribute to pushing poor countries into debt crises, encourage austerity and reduced investment in education, undermine the teaching profession, promote privatisation of education and can exacerbate inequality. It highlights that it is high time for this to change, and as such the IFIs should examine their practices and ensure that all future loan agreements and policy advice support equality, sustainability, development based on country priorities, teacher professionalism, quality education and the promotion of decent work for all.

Education International’s key recommendations

EI’s statement includes the following key recommendations for financial institutions.

“In order to ensure that their work is fully aligned with the sustainable development goals, the Bank and IMF should:

  • Promote decent work for all and support a new social contract between governments, businesses and workers that ensures a universal labour guarantee, living wages and gender equality, inter alia.
  • Lend responsibly and stop providing borrowing countries with loan conditions that promote austerity and the curbing of investment in vital public services such as education.
  • Conduct comprehensive inquiries into their own roles in contributing to the casualisation and deprofessionalisation of the education workforce in developing countries.
  • Promote teacher professionalism by ensuring that all policies, lending and projects support the implementation of the ILO/UNESCO recommendations on the status of teachers (1966), recommendations on the status of higher education support personnel (1977) and guidelines on decent work for early childhood educators (2014).
  • Respect trade union rights and recognise the contributions of education trade unions for successful education policies.
  • Recognise education as a human right and public good and support governments to improve, strengthen and expand public education systems rather than promote PPPs or finance private provision of education.
  • Align all lending and technical support with the Paris Agreement. “

 

The full statement can be accessed here

A statement from Global Unions is available here

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