Multilateral agencies in the cons...
Comparative Education Vol. 43, No. 3, August 2007, pp. 377���391 ISSN 0305-0068 (print)/ISSN 1360-0486 (online)/07/030377���15 �� 2007 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/03050060701556331 Multilateral agencies in the construction of the global agenda on education Kenneth King* University of Edinburgh, Scotland Taylor and Francis CCED_A_255491.sgm 10.1080/03050060701556331 Comparative Education 0305-0068 (print)/1360-0486 (online) Original Article 2007 Taylor & Francis 43 3 000000August 2007Ltd KennethKing Kenneth.King@ed.ac.uk This article traces the construction of the educational dimension of the global development agenda over the period 1990 to 2006. It argues that the multilateral agencies, and notably the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNDP, played vital roles in designing the architecture of this world agenda, supported at a key stage by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD. The milestones in this process were the World Conference on Education for All in 1990, the OECD DAC Report on Shaping the 21st Century in 1996, the World Forum in Dakar in April 2000, and the Millennium Summit of September 2000. These processes identified a series of goals and targets, including in education, that were time-bound and circumscribed in their range and coverage. The enthronement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) following the Millennium Summit of 2000 as the centrepiece in the world���s development agenda, is particularly worthy of careful analysis. It is suggested that the multilateral agencies played the dominant role in the construction both of the MDGs and of their predecessors, the International Development Targets (IDTs), and that, as a consequence, these may well not be strongly owned by developing countries in the way that is often claimed that they are. Introduction In 2006, it was more than 15 years since the World Conference on Education for All had taken place in Jomtien (Thailand), and it was 10 years since the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD) had established the International Development Targets (IDTs). In 2000, the World Forum in Dakar reinforced the Jomtien vision on educa- tion for all and following the Millennium Summit later that same year the Interna- tional Development Targets were, with some revision, confirmed as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). *Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, 21 George Square, Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9LD. Email: Kenneth.King@ed.ac.uk
378 K. King This period of 15 years saw the reaffirmation of the notion of time-bound targeting in international education (see King & Rose, 2005), which had once been evident in the three great regional education conferences of UNESCO in Santiago (1962), Karachi (1960) and Addis Ababa (1961).1 But it also saw the education priorities being embedded in a cluster of other global goals such as poverty reduction, HIV/ AIDS, malaria, child mortality and environmental sustainability. There was no longer a question of there being just an educational target, therefore education became part of the global development agenda. Mechanisms were also established in the Global Monitoring Reports (GMRs), the Millennium Project Report and its Task Forces, and Millennium Summit of 2005, to evaluate the world���s progress towards these agreed goals. Given the salience of these events, and their presumed impact on the educational priorities of national governments and of development agencies, it is perhaps surpris- ing how little analysis there has been of exactly how this global education architecture was constructed. For the international development community, of course, the place names, Jomtien and Dakar, and the acronyms, IDTs, MDGs and GMRs, don���t need to be explained as they have become part of the development lexicon. But the process whereby these became part of the accepted landscape of international education remains largely unstudied. In particular, the role of multilateral bodies in advancing this agenda has been little researched (but see Jones, 2005). This article retraces some of the steps in the construction of this global agenda, and will pay special attention to the multilateral players involved. We shall need to acknowledge how little we know about the attitudes of the nations on whose behalf this world agenda was being developed. How has the erection of these priorities affected different kinds of countries, and most notably those who are most aid-depen- dent? Also, how far is the MDG process owned by such countries as China and India, which are much less aid-dependent? It will become clear that the present argument is very provisional. One of its purposes is to point to the need for further research within some of the key institu- tions, as well as within the planning units of national ministries. In an age when it has become mandatory for donors to stress the importance of the country ownership of their own education agendas, it would indeed be paradoxical to discover that the allegedly global education agenda was perceived by many analysts in the south to have been principally developed by multilateral agencies in the north. The Jomtien vision of education within the decade of World Conferences There was an enormous amount of literature associated with Jomtien (Thailand), the site of the World Conference on Education for All (WCEFA, 5���9 March 1990), but very little of it discussed its origins. With the benefit of hindsight it can, of course, be seen as the first in a whole decade of World Conferences. This began with education at Jomtien in March 1990 and continued with children (New York, September 1990) environment (Rio de Janeiro, 1992) human rights (Vienna 1993) population (Cairo, 1994) social development (Copenhagen, 1995) women (Beijing, 1995)
Multilateral agencies and education 379 human settlements (Istanbul, 1996) food security (Rome, 1996) and climate change (Kyoto, 1997). The phenomenon of the World Conference is intriguing in its own right, and it may not be entirely coincidental that these began to occur very shortly after the world had ceased to be bipolar with the fall of the Berlin Wall.2 Many of these conferences were associated with a specialized lead agency, but this was not the case of the Conference in Jomtien. The four main sponsors of it were the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Children���s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank. But it is interesting to note that the person who emerged as the Executive Secretary of this World Conference was Wadi Haddad, who had until just before this time been in charge of the World Bank���s central educa- tion policy department. The reasons for each of the lead agencies being associated with this particular World Conference have been discussed by Jones (2005), and the history of how the particular text was changed from an initial UNICEF consultation in 15���17 February 19883 to the final draft that went to Jomtien, and was then revised in Jomtien by the International Steering Committee, has been recorded by King (1990) in NORRAG NEWS 7 and 8 (NORRAG NEWS, 1990a, b). Apart from the negotiations for leadership among these four agencies, there was clearly debate about what was the primary focus of this World Conference. One thing was certain: it was explicitly more about ���basic education��� than about ���primary educa- tion��� these last two words only appear together ten times in the 37 pages of the World Declaration on Education for All and its accompanying Framework for Action to meet Basic Learning Needs. By contrast, ���basic education��� appears no less than 76 times! ���Basic learning needs��� occurs 47 times, and ���education for all��� 22 times. The message is clear: the Conference was much less about the conventional categories of primary, secondary, technical & vocational, and higher education than about the new would- be inclusive concept of basic education or the rather vague notion of ���basic learning needs���. Indeed, surprisingly, with the exception of primary education, none of these traditional categories is named at all in the entire document, with the exception of higher education which is mentioned just once (WCEFA, 1990).4 Basic education had been associated with UNESCO in the 1950s but at that time it had a strong link to community education, the use of mother tongue and adult literacy. Hence it was important to emphasize that the Jomtien version of basic education was an expanded one. The extent of what was originally included under basic education or under ���education for all��� (EFA) is important to underline in view of the shrinkage that was to happen to this expanded vision almost immedi- ately. At Jomtien it covered no less than early childhood education, primary school- ing, adult literacy, essential skills for youth and adults, and access to knowledge and skills via the mass media. Each of these elements had particular professional constituencies that were anxious to ensure that their interests and priorities were represented as the drafts were elaborated and revised in the months prior to the World Conference and at the conference itself. The draft text had also been exposed to a series of 7 regional meetings across the world. These, too, sought to make the existing text reflect the realities of education within their regions. It was