The World Bank and Education: Critiques and Alternatives

Thibaut Lauwerier, May 15, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

The World Bank has a long history of developing educational initiatives and policy in developing nations around the world.The book reviewed in this post explores some themes prevalent in this involvement:

  • World Bank as advocate of neoliberal ideology
  • Instrumental vision of education quality
  • Self-referencing research from its staff or consultant
  • Transfer of best practices without regard to specific country contexts

These are all good grounds to criticize the World Bank. As the reviewer, Thibaut Lauwerier, says, "It is important to condemn the ideology spread by the World Bank because it takes little consideration of peoples’ actual needs." But the book, he writes, needs to be more grounded. "These criticisms could be stronger if there were evidence that the World Bank’s influence on education, notably through reports, has real harmful effects in specific countries and/or periods." Good overview and review of an important topic.


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