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conceptual mapping >  basic human rights and societies  > Confronting the Contradictions : the case against the IMF on education

Action Aid International

Confronting the Contradictions : the case against the IMF on education

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In the world’s poorest countries many children have gone without quality education for far too long, and as a result, the human capital that these countries need to grow and develop sustainably is still in desperately short supply.

One reason is that the key ingredient to learning is missing: there are not enough trained teachers. Our research in Malawi, Mozambique and Sierra Leone shows that a major factor behind the chronic and severe shortage of teachers is that International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies have required many poor countries to freeze or curtail teacher recruitment.

The report recognises that wage bill ceilings are closely linked to wider economic policies imposed by the IMF - and suggests that it is time for us all to challenge an approach "which encourages nations to believe that there is just one truth, one concept of macroeconomic stability and that this is an on-off position, stable or unstable, on-track or off-track."

The report makes the following core recommendations:

  • The IMF should stop attaching specific policy conditions to their lending and surveillance programmes.
  • Any advice they give must provide a range of policy options to enable governments and other stakeholders - including parliaments and civil society - to make informed choices about macroeconomic policies, wage bills and the level of social spending.
  • Governments should place education and development goals at the centre of their macro-economic planning. They should develop long-term and costed education plans detailing the actual need for teachers and resources for training in order to provide quality learning for all.
  • Donors need to keep their promises by committing to close the annual US$15bn financing gap needed to achieve education for all with increased and predictable aid over the long term. There is an urgent need to front-load increases in aid to education.
  • Civil society organisations need to develop their own economic literacy so they can better scrutinise government budgets, increase the sensitivity of budgets to the needs of girls, poor people and other excluded groups, and engage in discussions about alternative macroeconomic policies.

date of on-line publication : 23 April 2007

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