Seminar: Children without Borders

09 December 2016

A new way to think about external assistance in education

by Prof. Alain Mingat

Development challenges in social domains (education, health, etc.) are generally identified on the basis of information produced at country level. It is indeed to this level that international assistance is directed and from which external resources are released and spent. Given the current nature of national government decision-making and international relations, there are pragmatic and institutional reasons for this kind of arrangement. However, bilateral political relations and deficiencies in donor coordination may give a casual observer the impression that the international community is failing to achieve an equitable treatment of countries.

It can be argued that the focus of country-level data and analyses tends to blur the true nature of the social challenges at stake, and fails to provide an appropriate basis for targeting assistance to countries. It may also introduce a pervasive bias, violating the fundamental principle of giving each child an equal weight in shaping the global assistance agenda. This is true of both the pattern of assistance to individual countries and the actions taken within each of them.

For these reasons, it may be fruitful to expand our vision by considering territories wider than countries, putting the focus on individuals and their personal education status (including health and nutrition status), irrespective of their country of residence within these territories. This would bring universality and equality to the forefront of the education debate, and to decisions regarding the provision of assistance.

This seminar, co-organized by IIEP and the UNESCO Division for Education 2030 Support and Coordination, will be based on the results of an IIEP research project conducted in a ‘territory’ composed of nine francophone countries in West and Central Africa. It will be introduced by Paul Coustère, Deputy Director of IIEP. Jordan Naidoo, Director of the Division for Education 2030 Support and Coordination, will act as Discussant.

Prof. Alain Mingat has spent most of his academic career as Director of Research at IREDU/CNRS and professor at the University of Burgundy. His work was at the origin of the PASEC initiative to assess student learning in Francophone African countries. He then joined the World Bank as Regional Lead Education Specialist for Africa. More recently, he has been working on the construction and implementation of instruments to help countries design efficient and sustainable ECD development programmes. He has published a large number of papers in economics, sociology, and education.

Seminar - 16 December

  • Opening remarks: Paul Coustère, Deputy Director of IIEP
  • Speaker: Prof. Alain Mingat, Director of Research at IREDU/CNRS and professor at the University of Burgundy
  • Discussant: Jordan Naidoo, Director of the Division for Education 2030 Support and Coordination


Friday, 16 December 2016, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.
UNESCO HQ, Fontenoy, Room IX

Snacks will be served outside the room at 11:30 a.m.
Contact : / 01 45 03 77 00

UNESCO  7 place Fontenoy
75007 Paris, France


The seminar will be conducted both in French and English, with simultaneous interpretation.