Journal article

Multilateral agencies in the construction of the global agenda on education

Comparative Education, vol. 43, issue 3 (2007) pp. 377-391

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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.

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  • Kenneth King

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