ThemeBAICE Presidential AddressClosing Plenary Panel

Education and Development Post 2015 – Reflecting, Reviewing, Re-visioning

As the Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2015 milestones draw nearer, governments and the wider international community are working to define new development frameworks that address the realities of 2015 and beyond. Education is an important part of this debate.

The UKFIET Conference is designed to contribute to this international process. It is timely to reflect on the origins, construction and evolution of ‘global’ education campaigns, movements, and partnerships, and the evidence that they provide in helping to define new or modified global and national agendas. It is important to review what has been accomplished since global education goals and targets were set in Jomtien (1990) and in Dakar (2000), and to learn lessons from their use and application. Most urgently, there is a need to examine the research and the evidence that should inform the construction of education and development frameworks beyond 2015, set within an analysis of changing global imperatives and new paradigms for international cooperation and research.

Accordingly, the 2013 UKFIET Conference will provide the opportunity for a broad international constituency to:

REFLECT upon the origins, evolution and effects of previous global education development movements;
REVIEW accomplishments and challenges arising from the 1990-2015 era, and;
RE-VISION education and development for the Post-2015 period.

Walking backwards into the future: A comparative perspective on education and the post 2015 framework

Professor Elaine Unterhalter

This is an Author’s Original Manuscript of an article submitted for consideration in Compare [the exclusive right to publish residing with Taylor & Francis, copyright BAICE].

Good education is central to many contemporary visions for a post 2015 framework, given prominence in popular consultation and official policy pronouncements. This places considerable responsibility on our network of academics and practitioners in commenting on how we can support this process. This BAICE Presidential Address reviews what special perspective a comparative approach brings to visions for the future. It comments on differences between the confident assumptions made about the world by the architects of the MDGs and EFA, and those we now draw on in which uncertainty plays a key role. It argues that our view of the present and the recent past are a crucial resource to use in considering the future. But the nature of this comparative process needs clarifying. Descriptive and prescriptive approaches to comparison, often isolating a single variable, are different to approaches which are more reflexive and pay attention to uncertainty and provisionality. In highlighting the scope of each approach to comparative education this lecture argues for greater clarity regarding what the grounds for comparison are in addressing some of the challenges of post 2015. Reflections are presented from a number of research projects I have contributed to over the last five years looking at the implementation of the gender, poverty, and education MDGs and aspects of EFA in different sites, ranging from multilateral organisations to local NGOs in a number of African countries. These suggest a number of concrete strategies for future research, policy development and approaches to measurement and practice, which acknowledge, and go with the grain of uncertainty. In this way, the Presidential Address attempts to draw out some of the potential of reflexive comparative education.

Education in a changing world – where now?

Chair, Dr Desmond Bermingham, Director of the Education Global Initiative for Save the Children, and Chair of the UKFIET Board of Trustees. Formerly the head of the secretariat for the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (now the Global Partnership for Education) and head of the education profession at DFID.


  • Dr Kevin Watkins, Director of the Overseas Development Institute formerly editor of EFA Global Monitoring Report
  • Professor Karen Mundy, Associate Dean, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto
  • Dr Dzingai Mutumbuka, Chair of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), formerly World Bank and minister of education, Zimbabwe
  • Dr Chris Berry, Head of Profession, Education DFID
  • Responses and additional comments provided by Olav Seim (UNESCO) and Nick Burnett (Results for Development), then responses from the floor

The closing plenary provided an opportunity to reflect on the wide range of presentations and discussions in the conference. A high level panel from a diverse range of backgrounds including academics, NGOs, donors and international organisations will be asked to highlight one or two key messages from the conference and to give their thoughts on how education should respond to the different development challenges as well as the changing priorities of the south and emerging economies post 2015.