Zoe Godolphin: Draft World Bank Education Strategy Ignores Country Ownership

This year, the World Bank is set to approve a new strategy that will steer the bank’s education investments in the next decade. Zoe Godolphin of the University of Bristol says the proposed strategy fails in two key areas: promoting locally owned education priorities and treating education as a human right.

The draft strategy, according to Godolphin, does not give countries much liberty in designing their own education policies.

“Instead, it appears comfortable with using its financial products and its considerable influence to push policy outcomes, despite the Bank claiming a politically neutral mandate,” Godolphin writes in a piece published in the Bretton Woods Project’s website.

The proposed strategy offers “[o]ne-size-fits-all [education] policies … for the three categories: fragile states, low-income countries and middle-income countries,” according to Godolphin.

Godolphin further explains: “The Bank’s proposed policy of education decentralisation and facilitation of school autonomy have been identified as adversely affecting country ownership of national development plans. These policies weaken government responsibility for education policies and foster a lack of political will.”

In not treating education as a human right, the bank promotes a commercial approach to education, calling it a “tradable service,” among others, according to Godolphin.

The “promotion of private investment and provision of education by the Bank downplays – and undermines – the role of public provision. The IFC [International Finance Corp.] policy on education argues that there is no reason why primary education should necessarily be publicly provided,” Godolphin notes. 

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.