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The World Bank is the single largest source of money for education programs for the poorest countries of the world. In the 1990s, the Bank significantly boosted loans for education, dispensing an average of US$1.9 billion for the period 1991-1999, approximately 8.2% of its overall lending, nearly double the 4.8% that the Bank allocated to education in the 1980s.

But increased funding is not always matched by better results. In 1995, the World Bank discovered that the failure rate for its education loans was rising also, increasing from 11.8% of the portfolio in 1992 to 17.5% in 1994. In addition, there was a 25 percent increase in the the number of projects whose implementation progress has been rated as unsatisfactory or highly unsatisfactory - from 12.4% of the portfolio in 1992 to 15.5%. To further complicate the matter, many countries are suffering under huge debt burdens as well as harsh economic policies like Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) imposed by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which force them to slash education subsidies.

 

Tanzania, half of whose population is illiterate, was recently forced to introduce school fees under a SAP. This new policy immediately led to a drop in primary and secondary school enrolment. Tanzania currently spends a third of its budget on debt payments, roughly four times than it does primary education. Tanzania is not alone. In sub-Saharan Africa the percentage of 6-11 year olds enrolled in school fell from nearly 60% in 1980 to less than 50% in 1990.

For more information, see http://www.caa.org.au/oxfam/advocacy/tanzdebt/index.html

In addition to making children pay for education, the World Bank and the IMF have also forced countries to crack down on teachers. In Kenya, the IMF told the government that it would not approve a promised loan if the government gave into demands from striking teachers to raise salaries from the average basic salary of US$150 per month. The teacher strikes were supported by 70% of the population. Like Tanzania, Kenya is heavily indebted, and pays 25% of government revenue on debt service, compared to 6.8% on education.

For more information, see http://www.ei-ie.org/action/english/etrkenya.htm

In East Asia, IMF programs have prolonged and deepened a recession which has led to dramatic increases in poverty and deteriorating education indicators. In Indonesia, an additional 20 million people have been driven below the poverty line,with 1.3 million children dropping out of school. Drop-out rates in Thailand for 1998 was three times higher than in 1996, with 676,221 children dropping out of school.

For more information see http://www.caa.org.au/oxfam/advocacy/education/imf/asia.html

 

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