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International Development Agencies and Education

Regional Institutions, United Nations And International AgenciesBILATERAL AGENCIES, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

Andrew J. Finch

Andrew J. Finch
Katherine Taylor Haynes

Katherine Taylor Haynes
Andrew J. Finch


An official bilateral development or aid agency is responsible to a single government. It is usually a ministry or part of a government ministry dedicated to advancing foreign policy goals while contributing to the economic and social development of recipient countries. This discussion will review the history, legacy, importance, and current role of some of the more important bilateral agencies with regard to education.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

As an agency within the U.S. State Department, the United States Agency for International Development's mandate includes assisting countries with disaster recovery, poverty reduction, and the expansion of democratic reforms. USAID education and training support activities fall within this mandate and cover six major areas: basic education, learning technologies, higher education, workforce development, participant training, and telecommunications reform and applications.

USAID's current efforts in basic education include activities such as the Demographic and Health Surveys Education Data for Decision-Making (DHS Ed Data), which builds on population-based demo-graphic surveys and provides data for planning and evaluation of education policies worldwide; the Global Education Database (GED), a computer-based database of international statistics; and Basic Education and Policy Support (BEPS). Learning technologies consist of activities such as Global Information Network in Education (GINIE). Higher education includes activities such as the Higher Education Partnerships and Development and Advanced Training for Leadership and Skills (ATLAS). Workforce development entails activities such as Global Workforce in Transition. Participant training includes activities such as Global Training for Development and the Training Resources and Information Network (TraiNet). Telecommunications reform and applications entail activities such as the Telecommunications Leadership Program.

USAID was created by executive order in 1961 when U.S. President John F. Kennedy signed the Foreign Assistance Act. It was the first U.S. foreign assistance organization whose primary emphasis was on long-range economic and social development assistance efforts. The agency faced early criticisms fueled by opposition to the Vietnam War, concern that aid was too focused on short-term military considerations, and concern that aid, particularly development aid, was a giveaway program producing few foreign policy results for the United States. Thus in 1972 and 1973 the Senate rejected the foreign-assistance bill authorizing funds. In 1973 the House Committee on Foreign Affairs restructured aid to focus on "functional categories," including "education and human resources development." Since then, USAID has faced concerns about its administration and structure, and there have been multiple efforts to officially restructure the administration and control of the agency. In 1998 the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act placed the agency under the direct authority and foreign policy guidance of the secretary of state. In 2001 the George W. Bush administration reorganized USAID into three spheres of influence: global health, economic growth and agriculture, and conflict prevention and developmental relief. The second sphere captures most education funding.

USAID has continually tried to define its education policy. Policy papers from the mid-1980s established the priorities for USAID funding of "basic education and technical training." First, a 1982 statement proclaimed that "assisting countries to establish more efficient systems of education" was an essential component of an "effective development strategy." These efforts would include raising the levels of basic education and relating technical-training systems more effectively to productive employment. A 1984 paper stated the policy of improving primary education enrollment, program efficiency, and diversification of training. In the 1990s a USAID—higher education community consultation was designed (1) to enhance the U.S. foreign assistance program by incorporating the experience and knowledge of higher education institutions to develop better USAID policies, country and sector strategies, and activity designs and implementation; (2) to collaborate constructively in the delivery of development and humanitarian assistance when interests are compatible; and (3) to increase the transparency of USAID's decision and policymaking processes relevant to higher education institutions. In 1997 the agency released a strategic plan listing seven goals to support USAID's mission, the third of which was "to build human capacity through education and training." Still, the $7.7 billion total 2002 fiscal-year budget request allocated a mere 3 percent to education and training.

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)

The Canadian International Development Agency assists in issues from health, education, and agriculture to peace building, governance, human rights, land mines, and information technology. CIDA works with a variety of partners, both inside and outside of Canada, and it supports projects in more than 150 countries. Partners include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector, and academic institutions–in Canada and in recipient countries–as well as a number of international organizations and institutions. Some projects are run bilaterally, while others are carried out through multilateral organizations. According to CIDA, its primary objective regarding development assistance is "to support sustainable development in developing countries in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable, and prosperous world." In funding education projects, CIDA has chosen to define education as "the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and training through formal, non-formal, and informal systems and activities" (Isaac, p. 2).

CIDA has its official origins as Canada's External Aid Office, created in 1960 to reduce poverty and promote growth. The office's primary functions were to administer assistance programs funded by the Department of External Affairs, coordinate operations with other agencies, consult with international agencies and Canadian NGOs, and coordinate Canadian efforts to obtain aid for countries affected by disasters. Edward T. Jackson et al., in a 1996 report, note that most bilateral organizations, such as CIDA, spent the 1950s and 1960s focusing on initiatives to increase national production through industrial growth and paid little attention to income distribution within countries. However, as the spirit of such organizations started to change in the late 1960s, Canada complied with international guidelines and replaced "Office" with "Agency" and "Aid" with "International Development," becoming the Canadian International Development Agency in 1968. Education became more of a focus in the 1970s, as growth was promoted through equity by targeting interventions at the poor and meeting "basic human needs." The 1980s were characterized by structural adjustment policies, forcing developing nations to reduce deficits, privatize and deregulate industry, and promote exports. With the 1990s came an emphasis on "accountability and value-for-money spending." In 1990 Canada co-chaired the United Nations World Summit for Children, and it set a ten-year agenda for improving the well-being of children. Goals included attaining a basic education for all children and achieving at least an 80 percent completion rate of primary education for all boys and girls. However, rising public debt and nationwide unemployment forced Canada to cut social programs in the 1990s and also led the country to emphasize development programs that best served Canadian trade and competitiveness objectives. During this time CIDA faced some criticism for having "no comprehensive, official policy on basic human needs," having out-of-date "sub-priority" policies on areas such as education, having an "underdeveloped" management information system, a tendency to "underestimate, undervalue, or ignore altogether the record of engagement in basic human-need by the nongovernmental sector," and a need to boost accountability assessments (Jackson et al., section 5.25).

In 2001 CIDA released Social Development Priorities: A Framework for Action, in which budgetary allocations for social development programs, including education, increased from 19 percent to 38 percent. The plan called for quadrupling funding for basic education to $164 million annually. The additional financial commitment provides support for activities that promote the development and reform of the basic education sector in selected countries, strengthen the integration of locally driven education efforts, and improve the quality of basic education. The two stated goals were to increase gender equality and to achieve universal primary education by 2015. The plan called for improving programming, investing in girls' education, strengthening action against HIV/AIDS, integrating efforts of local communities and NGOs, and strengthening global political commitment.

Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA)

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency handles Sweden's bilateral international development cooperation and much of its relationship with central and eastern Europe. SIDA attempts to raise the standard of living among poorer populations throughout the world while also addressing geographical concerns, such as security and the environment, through cooperation with countries in central and eastern Europe. Although SIDA contributes financial resources and skill development, it holds partner countries responsible for their own general development and improvement.

SIDA supports development through nine operational areas, including social development that encompasses education. According to the 1997 annual report, SIDA gives priority to programs that have a direct effect on classrooms, particularly textbooks and teacher training. While SIDA's main task is to promote the development of international partners, it also promotes Swedish interests in a variety of ways. First, solving global problems holds direct appeal for both Sweden and its partners. In education, this has included funding primary education in rural areas and building education centers in villages. Second, development cooperation (such as research, business, and volunteerism) helps strengthen relations of value to Swedish society. SIDA has supported the privatization of textbook production in Tanzania and worked with many Swedish university departments to enable Swedish students to perform minor field studies during their senior years. Finally, by contracting with domestic companies and using Swedish goods, SIDA contributes to both the short and long-term growth of the country. About 300 Swedish NGOs receive support, and 60 percent of SIDA's budget goes ultimately to Swedish companies and foundations in the form of consultancy assignments, higher levels of employment, construction contracts, and sales orders. One-third of SIDA's cooperation is channeled through various multilateral organizations (such as the United Nations agencies and the World Bank).

For many years Swedish aid focused on nations that had advanced the most toward a planned economy. In the first part of the 1990s, total Swedish aid declined, thus affecting development program aid. In 1999 Howard White's Dollars, Dialogue, and Development: An Evaluation of Swedish Programme Aid noted SIDA had an excessive bureaucratic burden, which acted as a constraint to SIDA's operations. Also, SIDA supported anti-inflationary policies, which some felt might be "detrimental for long-run growth by undermining investment in human capital" programs, such as education and training. Questions also arose about how well Swedish program aid (which comprised about 12% of total aid in the 1990s) supported policy change in recipient countries.

At the turn of the century, SIDA began to reduce the number of projects by 25 percent in order to maintain quality and efficiency. SIDA also determined that certain countries had developed sufficiently to warrant replacing development grant aid with other types of cooperation. Indeed, the 1997 annual report mentioned phasing out "one-sided giving" in favor of development that "creates mutual benefits and from which all parties gain." According to SIDA, at the center of all development cooperation is developing knowledge and skills, but major efforts in education will not succeed unless other important functions in society, such as public administration, trade, and industry work properly.

The Department for International Development (DFID)

The Department for International Development is the British government entity responsible for promoting development and reducing poverty. DFID has six divisions (Africa, Asia, eastern Europe, western hemisphere, International, and Resources) and seven advisory groups or departments, of which education is one. The majority of DFID's assistance goes to the poorest countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The current department was created in 1997, with policy outlined in the White Paper on International Development. DFID replaced Britain's Ministry of Overseas Development, which was created in 1964. The transformation was in response to increasing globalization of the world economy and a "review of aspirations." According to the White Paper, the 1970s and 1980s had produced inadequate economic policies that benefited only a small portion of the population, and those years produced external factors, such as high oil prices, which particularly affected developing countries.

Thus the new DFID established the goals of contributing to the elimination of poverty in poorer countries through bilateral and multilateral development programs, as well as intergovernmental cooperation. One of the three initial objectives was to improve education, health, and opportunities for poor people. In particular this meant promoting effective universal primary education, literacy, access to information, and life skills. It created targets based on the United Nations conventions and resolutions, which aimed for universal primary education in all countries by 2015 and the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005. DFID's stated priority was "to achieve the full participation of all children and adults in quality education at all levels."

DFID focuses its education support on access, quality, retention, and equity. Initial strategies included strengthening and extending partnerships by involving local communities in managing schools, reconstructing school systems in poor countries, and promoting research to improve understanding of how education can contribute to the elimination of poverty. Early spending reviews suggested DFID needed to become more selective and focused on poverty reduction in its assistance.

French Agency for Development (AFD)

The French Agency for Development is a public, industrial, and commercial institution and a component of France's official development assistance. The AFD financially supports public and private job creating projects in developing countries. Some projects are financed completely by the AFD, while others are cofinanced with partner-funding agencies. In addition, the AFD deploys and administers structural adjustment aid allocated by the French government.

The AFD functions as a group of domestic and foreign entities, including two domestic subsidiaries and fourteen banking, financial, and real estate subsidiaries operating in the overseas departments and territories. Although the AFD itself manages state treasury loans, grants, and other government funding, it has two domestic subsidiaries: the Society of Promotion and Participation for Economic Cooperation (Proparco) and the Center for Finance, Business, and Banking Studies (CEFEB).

Proparco was established in 1977 as a limited company owned by the AFD, and originally it was concerned mainly with risk capital. The AFD converted Proparco to a financial company in 1990, and it currently works entirely with private-sector funding.

CEFEB focuses purely on education and training. Founded in 1963, it is based in Marseilles, France. CEFEB provides continuing education and training for personnel from France and developing countries with current or future careers in senior posts in economic or financial public services, financial development institutions, and public or private enterprises. CEFEB's principal activities are: (1) an annual diploma course for approximately seventy trainees; (2) specialized short-duration seminars in France; and (3) training missions abroad. In addition, in cooperation with the University of Aix-Marseilles or Hautes Etudes Commerciales (HEC), CEFEB runs two master's level courses for senior executives–one for human resources managers and the other for managers of operational or functional units. Finally, CEFEB is also involved in running in service training for AFD staff and courses for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The AFD operates in more than eighty countries and has a network of forty-three local offices and agencies around the world. In 1941 General Charles de Gaulle created the Caisse Centrale de la France Libre in London. In 1992 the Caisse Française de Développement was established by decree to succeed the Caisse Centrale de la France Libre, and six years later the name was changed to the Agence Française de Développement, or the French Development Agency. Under a French law established in the 1980s, the AFD is classed as a "specialized financial institution," which is a credit institution with a permanent public-service mission. The AFD's commitments, the terms of those commitments, and the company accounts are submitted for approval to its supervisory board. As a public institution the AFD is subject to control by the French Court of Auditors and, as a specialized financial institution, by the French Banking Commission.

The AFD plays a role in both bilateral and multilateral programs. Bilateral aid is directed mainly toward countries with strong historical and political ties. Countries in Africa and French-speaking countries worldwide have traditionally been given special attention by the AFD and its predecessors. About 75 percent of AFD aid is handled on a bilateral basis. The other 25 percent is handled at a multilateral level, within international and European organizations. As a whole, the AFD has designed its development cooperation to be compatible with other members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and to have a European context through investments in central and eastern Europe.

The AFD's program activity can be divided into fourteen sectors, of which the educational infrastructure is one. After becoming the AFD in 1998, almost 60 percent of project aid went to sub-Saharan Africa. However, the government directed the agency to expand, and more aid started to move into the Mediterranean region and Lebanon. Still, only about 1 percent of all project aid went to education specific projects. Conversely, about 50 percent of all project aid at the beginning of the new millennium went to support rural development and urban infrastructure.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

The Japan International Cooperation Agency was created in 1974 to handle Japan's bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA). As Japan's governmental aid agency, JICA has a stated goal of "helping people to help themselves." Japan handles official development assistance through a program devised in 1954 as a part of the Colombo Plan to assist Asian countries. That program has three components: (1) bilateral grants; (2) bilateral loans; and (3) multilateral assistance. JICA is responsible for most of the first component, bilateral grants, which are composed of grant aid and "technical cooperation." The agency also conducts surveys and helps execute a capital-grant assistance program on the part of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In addition, JICA has helped create a long-term training program to allow foreign students to obtain academic degrees in Japan as well as a grant-aid program to support foreign students.

One of JICA's education contributions is through this capital-grant assistance program. These projects may hold public value but are not highly profitable, as grant aid involves financial assistance without obligation of repayment and is focused upon basic human needs. There are three types of grant aid: general, aid for fisheries, and aid for increased food production. Education projects are funded through general grant aid, and projects include construction of education-related facilities such as school buildings, expansion of broadcast education services, and training and retraining of educators. Aid is also provided for specific local needs.

In addition, JICA provides for training through technical cooperation activities. In essence, technical cooperation refers to the fostering of human and socioeconomic development through the exchange of technology and knowledge. JICA engages in technical cooperation with developing countries in six basic ways: (1) by providing training in Japan; (2) dispatching Japanese experts to provide training abroad; (3) supplying equipment; (4) providing technical assistance in the development of projects;(5) conducting economic development studies; and (6) dispatching Japanese volunteers to work in developing countries. Training, expert dispatch projects, and volunteer dispatch each have educational elements. Training courses include both group and individual courses, and many group courses have been implemented in the field of education (such as "The Practice of Science Education"). The volunteer dispatch program sends Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) to primary and secondary educational institutions. The expert dispatch sends experts to education-related agencies and vocational-training programs in Japan and overseas. Finally, project cooperation is directed at universities through such programs as agriculture, engineering, and medicine.

The Japanese government's interest in assisting developing countries grew after receiving aid from the World Bank in the 1950s for its own reconstruction. In 1954 Japan established Official Development Assistance (ODA), and according to JICA, Japan's development assistance has expanded annually since that time. Initially, Japan focused on funding Asian countries, but toward the end of the twentieth century began expanding aid to eastern and central Europe. By 1992 it was the major donor in twenty-five countries. With the creation of JICA in 1974, Japan's ODA started taking a more country and issue-specific approach. As the cold war came to a close, certain development issues, such as education, the environment, and population began to receive more global attention, and this was reflected in JICA projects. Beginning with the 1990 World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand, Japan adopted the international goals of extending primary education and eliminating gender inequality in education. Consequently, a much larger portion of JICA's contributions have gone to primary schools whereas until 1990 higher education had received greater emphasis.

Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD)

The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation aims to assist developing countries in improving political, economic, and social conditions. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway, NORAD is a Norwegian directorate under Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. NORAD is responsible for bilateral and long-term aid, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handles the administration of multilateral projects. The education sector became a higher priority in the late 1980s and 1990s, with funding nearly tripling during that time. Asia receives the most Norwegian educational support.

NORAD focuses on six major areas of development: social development; economic development; peace, democracy, and human rights; environment and natural resource management; humanitarian assistance in the event of conflict or natural disasters; and gender equality. NORAD gives priority to education funding, and most of these six major areas have educational objectives. For example, by providing assistance for multilingual education and cultural diversity, NORAD attempts to support human rights and democracy.

In addition, NORAD invests in knowledge and human resource development in order to assist in the health and education sectors. A variety of programs support the development of knowledge management, research-based planning, support for international involvement in centers of knowledge, institutional development at universities and colleges in partner countries, the development of financial plans for research and higher education, and cooperation in research and education.

Although Norway has been involved in international development activities since the late 1940s, NORAD was created in 1968. Norway's first bilateral education project began in 1952, as a component of the India Fund's "Kerala Project." The project was designed to promote economic and social development of the people of India and had a number of programs, including "fishery colleges." In the 1960s programs extended to other countries in Asia and Africa, and in 1968 NORAD took over aid activities and obtained a broader range of objectives. In essence, NORAD became the sole agency responsible for coordinating and preparing Norway's official development aid. Before 1990 most of NORAD's education aid went to tertiary education. In 1991 a Norwegian white paper endorsed the goals of "education for all," established at the 1990 Jomtien World Declaration of Education for All conference. Since that time, NORAD's orientation to development has evolved from a project approach to more sectorwide programs, such as the Basic Primary Education Project in Nepal, and the Basic Education Sub-Sector Investment Program in Zambia.

Norway conducts annual evaluations, available to the public, of its foreign aid program. Suggestions for NORAD's education programs have included improving donor coordination and ensuring that recipient countries play a stronger role in coordinating aid, improving information management, conducting specific evaluations of education programs, and funding educational research in beneficiary countries.

Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic)

The Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education was created in the 1950s to promote an accurate image of Dutch higher education around the world. Its mission states four major areas of interest: development cooperation, internationalization of higher education, credential evaluation, and positioning Dutch higher education worldwide. Within these four areas, human resource and institutional development receives the most funding, followed by international academic relations, communication, and finally, international credential evaluation.

Higher education in the Netherlands has three branches: (1) the universities of professional education; (2) the remaining universities; and (3) international education institutes. Nuffic's board consists of members appointed by organizations representing each of these branches. Nuffic also has three secretariats: the National Commission for UNESCO, the Netherlands Development Assistance Research Council, and the Steering Committee of the Netherlands Israel Development Research Program. In addition to these three autonomous secretariats, Nuffic began conducting language courses for both foreigners and Dutch people in 1966. Participants in this program include students, foreign employees and their partners, embassy staff, au pairs, and classroom groups.

One of Nuffic's initial programs in the 1950s was international credential evaluation. Essentially, Nuffic offers advice regarding the relative value of foreign higher education diplomas in the Netherlands and vice versa. Nuffic publishes a manual, Evaluation of Foreign Credentials in the Netherlands, to help clients in this regard. An Internet resource describing procedures of higher education qualifications earned within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area Countries (EEA) is also maintained. As internationalization grew throughout the world in the mid-1980s, Nuffic assumed a role of encouraging cooperation between Dutch institutions and other industrialized countries. The goal was to improve Dutch higher education and broaden its dimensions. The primary method of promoting internationalization was the exchange of Dutch students and staff, and these efforts were supported by grants and scholarships.

Nuffic's primary source of difficulty has been the confrontation between different academic and cultural traditions, which has resulted in delays and irritation among participants. Nuffic has published various books in an effort to help program participants deal with issues arising from these differences.

Development cooperation represents one of Nuffic's main activities. At the end of the 1990s Nuffic reduced its concentration to a smaller number of countries to install a sectorwide approach, which emphasizes human resource development. This change represents a philosophical shift within the agency in which education is regarded as integral to all areas of development, and thus development cooperation receives the greatest amount of Nuffic's expenditures. Nuffic administers and finances education programs, initiates communication, and helps develop policy in beneficiary countries. Programs are categorized as human resource development, such as fellowships and scholarships, or institutional development, such as the Joint Financing Program for Cooperation in Higher Education (MHO) and Cooperation between the Netherlands and South Africa (CENESA).

In 1999 Nuffic adopted a more succinctly worded mission regarding knowledge export, by stating the goal "to position Dutch higher education on emerging markets." That same year, Nuffic set up the Project Office for Positioning Higher Education, to coordinate and support efforts of Dutch higher education institutions with the goal of recruiting institutional partners and foreign students. Three nations were targeted: Taiwan, China, and Indonesia. In 1998 Nuffic established the Network for the Export of Higher Education, in which nearly forty higher education institutions join to exchange information and coordinate activities.

The German Organization for Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesselschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit) (GTZ)

The German Organization for Technical Cooperation is owned by the Federal Republic of Germany, and it operates as a service enterprise for international development cooperation. Established in 1975 as a private-sector enterprise with a development policy mandate, the GTZ supports international development, reform, and technical cooperation on behalf of the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) and other German ministries, partner-country governments, and international organizations. Education represents one of the GTZ's sector-related themes, and it has four major components: educational aids, basic education, vocational training, and universities/scientific and technical institutions.

The first educational area, education aids, operates by the name of the Crystal project. Crystal provides teachers' aids such as textbooks and materials, specialist literature, and consulting. Consulting services are provided for vocational training, work-oriented training, and development cooperation (such as the application of new media and education aids). Services and materials are free to developing countries, and many of them are described in a Crystal catalog.

In the second area of basic education, the GTZ serves in an advisory role. The GTZ advises developing government partners on ways to improve their basic education systems. The suggestions focus upon quality, efficiency, and relevance through the design of programming methods and system structures. The GTZ's educational philosophy supports a decentralized approach utilizing parents and communities. Three major basic education activities include: (1) developing and introducing appropriate curricular elements and relevant learning and teaching materials; (2) institution building; and (3) systems consulting.

Vocational training encompasses the GTZ's third education area. These services are aimed at policymakers, industry, research and planning institutions, state and private training institutions, and in company training facilities. The GTZ serves a consulting and planning role for the general vocational field as well as individual institutes of further and advanced training and vocational agencies. Specific services include concept design, planning, and evaluation, along with the establishment and commissioning of agencies and staff.

Finally, the GTZ provides consulting for universities and scientific and technical institutions. The goals of this higher education theme are to improve the performance capacity of education and research systems, to boost training performance and research capacity, and to encourage an exchange of ideas and experience at the academic level through international linkages. The GTZ provides services such as developing education and research systems, developing institutions, consulting on program conduct and efficiency, and the promotion of cooperation in training and research.

When the GTZ was developed, most services were conducted out of the head office. Though the head office is still the major interface between the government and project implementation abroad, in an effort to cut costs, the organization began to emphasize decentralization and regionalization in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This shifted responsibility to the field offices in more than sixty partner countries. The GTZ has also focused most heavily on advisory services. The late 1980s figured prominently in the GTZ's development because of German reunification. This required Eastern bloc nations, including the former East Germany, to make the transition to a market economy. Since the changes in Germany both drove and were affected by globalization, the GTZ decided to expand its cooperation with other organizations. In addition, the GTZ took on a larger role in the promotion of democracy worldwide.


Overall, bilateral agencies have been expanding their education and training goals since the early 1990s. The opening of eastern Europe, the fall of state socialism, and the 1990 Jomtien World Conference on Education for All were among the main factors shaping education policy regarding the geography and the goals of bilateral aid. Still, in the late 1990s, actual overall aid budgets had begun to decline, especially across the member countries of the OECD. Indeed, though policies have had lofty objectives, the reality often has not been as positive. According to Therien and Lloyd, bilateral aid agencies have faced issues such as dwindling resources, the loss of donors and a rationale for aid because of the end of the cold war and the dismantling of the Soviet Union, greater support of domestic aid instead of foreign development assistance, and an overall decrease in public support. As interests of donors have taken precedence over the interests of recipients, development aid has suffered. Other issues facing bilateral agencies include problems working through recipient governments, the inconsistency between economic and social development objectives (which span countries), and inconsistent foreign policy goals (with regard to specific countries). Some examples of these issues include French aid to francophone Africa, U.S. aid to Egypt and Israel, and Nordic aid to its program countries. Furthermore, globalization and development assistance received much scrutiny at the beginning of the new millennium, as groups questioned whether or not programs were actually reducing poverty.


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