Unification of roles of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) in Education: The maintenance of global neoliberal hegemony?

Anita Trisnawati Abbott


Education is viewed as an instrument for development. Therein lies the importance of education for social change. It is education that makes people aware of the situation around them. Yet, in a different way, education is also an instrument to maintain hegemony. At the international level, the institutions of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank (WB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are crucial to the determination of the real meaning of education; whether or not education is an instrument for development for maintaining hegemony.
The WTO system is arguably more than simply an international institution, but rather it is a center of hegemonic power. The emergence of neoliberalism has been accompanied by the coercion of hegemonic power that results in deleterious effects on human life. In the education sector, through the provision of the WTO General Agreement of Trade and Services (GATS), trade barriers in education are eliminated. Not only education is becoming globalized but also increasingly becoming a competitive commodity. Thus, the commodification of education means that education serves those who can afford to pay. The controversies surrounding the role of the WTO in the trade of education are significant to the debates about Neoliberal ideology and the problems of governance in the realm of globalization. These debates arise not only because of the actions of the WTO, which is deeply informed by Neoliberal ideology, but also because of the diverse beliefs about world economic governance.
Not only the WTO, but also the roles of International Financial Institutions in global education revealed controversies. State intervention, for instance is minimized. Government spending in the education sector is reduced. Privatization and commercialization are encouraged. Social injustice seems to be the source of the presupposition of these controversies.
This research will explore the unification roles of the WTO, IMF, and WB in global education. The research will be built on secondary sources, articles and literature dealing with the WTO and the IFIs. This research will also be built on secondary sources through the collection of data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This research will identify the link between the roles of the WTO and the IFIs in global education, and the maintenance of global Neoliberal hegemony. Furthermore, it will address the question of how the WTO and the IFIs’ roles in global education can maintain hegemony. In this context, Neoliberal theory and hegemony discourses will be used.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

The Online MPhil/PhD in Education from the UCL Institute of Education, University College London. Become a doctoral researcher without the need to give up your work or personal commitments.

For more information about doctoral research at the UCL Institute of Education, go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/courses/graduate-research

ISSN 2049-9558
Link to us!