Since 1990 the education development community has focused on a strategy titled: Education for All. This article argues that, as political strategy, it has been a failure. The article explains why and suggests ways to correct the problem.

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EFA failure

The failure of "Education for All" as political strategy


Stephen P. Heyneman’s article printed in the special issue of Prospects (Vol. XXXIX, no.1, March 2009), the quarterly Review of Comparative Education, published by IBE-UNESCO.


This article deserves a special attention considering Stephen P. Heyneman’s position within the World Bank when the Bank took the decision to support EFA(Education for All) programme financing it. Twenty years later 17% (117 million) of the primary school age children and 42% (286 million) of the secondary school-aged children are still out of school. Proportions for females (19 and 44%) remain higher than for males. It’s not a terrific result!


At the time of the meeting in Jomtien, education lending at the World Bank accounted for about 6% of new financial commitments. Last year it was 8.1%, that is $2 billion from
the total lending of $24.7 billion. However, with respect to the cumulative record since Jomtien, the portion of Bank
commitments devoted to education (its second smallest sector) is the same as it was in 1990, 6%.


According to Heyneman, Educational aid has failed. In this paper Heyneman analyes the reasons of this failure. Concluding, Heynaman asks: "Knowing that Education for All would fail to generate higher priority for education in the allocation of foreign aid, should the division chiefs have approved the Bank’s participation?".

Heyneman’s answer is zes. Nevertheless, this paper confirms the failure of this project and provides a seriuos and strong analysis from an insider of the raisons of this failure. Elsewhere in this site we have provided other failure raisons.

Paper attached

 Stephen P. Heyneman (United States of America) received his Ph.D. in comparative education from the University of Chicago in 1976. He worked for the World Bank for 22 years. He is professor of international education policy and serves as the director of the International Education Policy and Management Program (IEPM) at Vanderbilt University. His interests include education and social cohesion, the international trade
in education goods and services, and education and corruption.

S. P. Heyneman, Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203, USA