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05 Dec 2014

Avoiding Post-2015 Education Pipe-dreams? By Robert Palmer

By Robert Palmer, NORRAG.

Education post2015This is the last blog in a series of post-2015 reflection blogs (see blog list below); a synthesis review of NORRAG NEWSBite’s post-2015 education blogs over the last couple of years.

Alice Albright, the CEO of the Global Partnership for Education, recently commented about the post-2015 education agenda, that ‘not having mechanisms and means turns goals into pipe-dreams’ (05.11.14, World Innovation Summit for Education, Doha).

The mechanisms and the means by which the post-2015 education ambition could be realized have received less attention than the suggestions from the education community about what should be included in the goal wording, or in the targets.

A number of NORRAG NEWSBite blogs have engaged with this issue, with much of the focus around two related themes: financing and governance.


Part of the success, or failure, of the post-2015 education goals will revolve around funds; achieving the new goal and targets requires both better use of existing resources and more resources.

Domestic fund mobilization will increasingly be by far the most important source of education funding (Fredriksen).

Initially, the thinking about innovative financing for education focused largely on its potential to increase international financing for basic education, and especially in low-income countries, in order to meet the international education goals (Burnett). Now, the thinking has shifted and Burnett argues that ‘innovative financing is actually most interesting for education when it is focused on increasing domes financing, particularly for vocational and higher education, and especially in middle-income countries’. Bond shows how the domestic resources in developing countries can be better utilized, for example via debt conversion development bonds.

Fredriksen argues that despite the predominant role of domestic funding, Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) will continue to play an important role in many low-income countries. In another blog post, he notes that education aid must itself be transformed into a more strategic instrument (Fredriksen); it needs to be more efficient, it should be used to finance cost-effective approaches, and to catalyze additional domestic and/or external resources. In a third post, Fredriksen underlines the need for a concerted, ‘evidence-based global dialogue at a high political level on how to make aid more effective by making its allocation more evidence-based’.


For King and Palmer a crucial missing element of the post-2015 education discussions to date relates to the global governance of education and training. They argue that without changes in formal and informal mechanisms of governance, the impact of the post-2015 education goal and targets may be limited. One of these informal mechanisms of global governance is also highlighted by Barrett who argues that, as a tool for global governance, PISA has limitations and pitfalls; not least amongst these is its ownership by an organisation that is a coalition of high income countries.

In another post, King and Palmer note that where governance is discussed in the education post-2015 literature, it relates more to ‘good governance’ at the national level, rather than to global governance reforms required. Further, they argue that governance targets have not been mainstreamed across the proposed post-2015 education goal. This has worrying implications for the success of education post-2015.

Wild argues that in addition to discussing the financing of education post-2015, we also need to focus on building effective national systems and political leadership that can deliver. In other words, it’s not just about how much money, but about capacity to deliver; and improved governance at the national level is critical for this. Akukwe echoes the call for a greater post-2015 focus on improving governance at the national level. She argues that ministries of education need greater capacity building support in order to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate educational progress.

Global consensus, national action?

King looks at the 20+ year history of EFA and argues that there is clearly no automatic link between global consensus and national action in national ministries of education; such action requires dedicated, long-term political commitment. The mechanisms and means of achieving the post-2015 education goal and targets need to recognize this.

Full list of blogs in this synthesis series:

Robert Palmer is an independent education and skills consultant. He also supports the Editor of NORRAG News and runs NORRAG NEWSBite. Email: Tweets @SkillsImpact

>>View all NORRAG Blogs on Education 2030


NORRAG (Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training) is an internationally recognised, multi-stakeholder network which has been seeking to inform, challenge and influence international education and training policies and cooperation for almost 30 years. NORRAG has more than 4,200 registered members worldwide and is free to join. Not a member? Join free here.

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