International Review of Education

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 403–416 | Cite as

Regaining legitimacy in the context of global governance? UNESCO, Education for All coordination and the Global Monitoring Report

  • D. Brent EdwardsJr.
  • Taeko Okitsu
  • Romina da Costa
  • Yuto Kitamura
Research Note


This research note shares insights which resulted from a larger study into the ways in which the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – during 2010–2014 – used its position as coordinator of the post-Dakar Framework for Action (initiated at the World Education Forum held in 2000 and designed to reinvigorate the Education for All initiative) to help it regain some of the legitimacy it had lost in the preceding decades. The research study focused on the role of both the UNESCO Education for All Follow-up Unit and the production of the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) during the 2000s because they were at the heart of UNESCO’s efforts to repair its image and renew its impact in one area of global governance, specifically in the global education policy field. The study’s findings were based on an analysis of documents, archives and interviews (n = 17) with key actors inside and outside UNESCO, including representatives of UNESCO’s peer institutions.


UNESCO Education for All multilateralism legitimacy global education policy Global Monitoring Report 


Reconquérir une légitimité dans le contexte de la gouvernance mondiale ? UNESCO, la coordination de l’Education pour tous et le Rapport mondial de suivi – Cette note de recherche partage les constats résultant d’une assez vaste étude sur les moyens par lesquels l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’éducation, la science et la culture (UNESCO) a durant les années 2000–2014 utilisé sa position de coordinatrice du Cadre d’action de Dakar (inauguré en 2000 au Forum mondial sur l’éducation dans le but de redynamiser l’initiative Éducation pour tous), pour regagner en partie la légitimité qu’elle avait perdue au cours des décennies précédentes. Cette étude analyse au sein de l’UNESCO le rôle, au cours des années 2000, tant de l’Unité de suivi de Dakar que de la production du Rapport mondial de suivi. Ces deux éléments étaient en effet au cœur des efforts déployés par l’Organisation pour restaurer son image et raviver son impact dans un domaine de la gouvernance mondiale, à savoir dans les politiques mondiales d’éducation. Les résultats de l’étude reposent sur une analyse de documents, d’archives ainsi que d’entrevues (n = 17) menées avec des acteurs principaux à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur de l’Organisation, dont des représentants d’institutions homologues affiliées.


  1. Daniel, J. (2010). Mega-schools, technology and teachers: Achieving Education for All. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Dowling, J., & Pfeffer, J. (1975). Organizational legitimacy: Social values and organizational behavior. The Pacific Sociological Review, 18(1), 122–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Education for Change. (2014). External evaluation of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report: Final report. London: Education for Change. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  4. Edwards Jr., D. B., Okitsu, T., da Costa, R., & Kitamura, Y. (forthcoming). Organizational legitimacy in the global education policy field: Learning from UNESCO and the Global Monitoring Report. Comparative Education Review.Google Scholar
  5. Jakobi, A. (2009). Global education policy in the making: International organisations and lifelong learning. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 7(4), 473–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Jones, P. W. (1999). Globalisation and the UNESCO Mandate: Multilateral prospects for educational development. International Journal of Educational Development, 19(1), 17–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Limage, L. (2007). Organizational challenges to international cooperation for literacy in UNESCO. Comparative Education, 43(3), 451–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Limage, L. (2010). UNESCO reform: Mandate, governance and efficacy dilemmas for relevance in education, science and culture. Paper presented in the “UN reform in critical perspective” lecture series, American University of Paris, 3 November.Google Scholar
  9. Limage, L. (2012). International education frameworks and goals: Agendas and the role of non-public actors. The EFA discourse 1990–2012 and beyond 2015. Paper presented at the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) Regional Conference on Globalization, Regionalization and Privatization in and of Education in Africa, 12–13 October, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  10. Miller, C. A. (2007). Democratization, international knowledge institutions, and global governance. Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions, 20(2), 325–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Mundy, K. (1999). Educational multilateralism in a changing world order: Unesco and the limits of the possible. International Journal of Educational Development, 19(1), 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Packer, S. (2007). International EFA architecture: Lessons and prospects; a preliminary assessment. Background paper prepared for the Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2008. 2008/ED/EFA/MRT/PI/57. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  13. Post, D. (2015). Does watching help? In search of the theory of change for educational monitoring. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 17(1), 72–86.Google Scholar
  14. Preston, R. (2010). What do and might the EFA GMRs achieve? Norrag News, 43, 61–64.Google Scholar
  15. Rose, P. (2003). The Education Fast Track Initiative: A global campaign review of progress and recommendations for reform. London: ActionAid. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  16. Schweisfurth, M. (2010). Global Monitoring Reports: Reflections on real potential and realpolitik. Norrag News, 43, 59–60.Google Scholar
  17. Stern, E. (2010). Independent external evaluation of UNESCO: Final report. IOS/EVS/PI/107. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  18. UN. (United Nations). (2000). United Nations Millennium declaration. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly. 8th plenary meeting, 8 September. New York: UN. Retrieved 12 May 2017 from
  19. UN. (2015). Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. United Nations Sustainable development knowledge platform [online resource]. Retrieved 12 May 2017 from
  20. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). (2000). The Dakar framework for action. Education for all: Meeting our collective commitments. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  21. UNESCO. (2001a). Monitoring report on Education for All. UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved 18 May 2017 from
  22. UNESCO. (2001b). High-Level Group on Education for All. First Meeting UNESCO, Paris 29–30 October. Report 2001. UNESCO: Paris. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  23. UNESCO. (2002). Education for all: Is the world on track? Education for all global monitoring report (EFA-GMR) 2002. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved 12 May 2017 from
  24. UNESCO. (2004). Report of the fifth meeting of the Working Group on Education for All. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  25. UNESCO. (2015). Education 2030: Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action. Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all (Final draft for adoption). Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved 7 April 2017 from
  26. Verger, A., & Novelli, M. (Eds.). (2012). Campaigning for “Education for all”: Histories, strategies and outcomes of transnational advocacy coalitions in education. Rotterdam: Sense.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Brent EdwardsJr.
    • 1
  • Taeko Okitsu
    • 2
  • Romina da Costa
    • 3
  • Yuto Kitamura
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Otsuma Women’s UniversityTokyoJapan
  3. 3.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  4. 4.The University of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations