Education International
Education International

World Bank’s education policies dotted with inconsistencies

published 14 April 2016 updated 15 April 2016

A new Education International study provides rare, in-depth insight into the World Bank’s challenges to strike a balance of institutional coherence and consistency of teacher policy recommendations and programmes over the last decade.

With a view to understand the World Bank’s policy on teachers, Education International (EI) commissioned a study to researchers Antoni Verger and Clara Fontdevila from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. The result of their work, The World Bank’s doublespeak on teachers – an analysis of ten years of lending and advice, takes a close look at recent World Bank publications and projects.

High impact, low coherence

The authors frame the research in the political context that arises after the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 4 on Education. As the latter moves towards implementation, they stress that coherent, properly financed systemic planning becomes essential. How this will be done is the subject of a controversial debate involving policy makers and education activists at national and global levels.

Verger and Fontdevila describe the influence of the World Bank in the education policy debate and highlight its role as the largest supplier of external funding to the sector. They also point out its impact on the shaping of education policy through suggestions and requirements. This takes the form of recommendations on a wide range of topics, from benchmarking learning outcomes to teacher issues.

The study reveals how the Bank’s policy discourse expresses a preference for micro-management focused reforms, whereas the projects undertaken lean towards a teacher professionalism agenda, an approach which clearly is at the heart of improvement efforts in OECD countries. The authors describe the conflict of ideas and action as perplexing, stating that “the rhetoric and the practice do not match.”

Read the full study here.