Some partners are more equal than others: EFA and Civil Society in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu education policy processes


  • Alexandra McCormick University of Sydney


This article considers a parallel marginalisation of Education for All (EFA) as a holistic approach to education, and the civil society actors and coalitions who address sidelined Dakar goals of early childhood care and education, adult literacy, quality and non-formal education. I argue that in spite of over two decades of EFA rhetoric prizing national ownership and broad participation, education policy processes in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea, including attempted sector-wide approaches, have incorporated only dominant financial donors and narrowed conceptions of state leadership. One corollary has been a focus on the Millennium Development primary education and gender goals. The 2009 inauguration of the Civil Society Education Fund, through the EFA Fast Track Initiative, offers potential for reversing the situation. I present evidence from critical discourse analysis (CDA) of EFA policy documentation and processes, including fieldwork and interviews with key policy actors, conducted from 2007-2009. I consider how language and intertextuality instantiate elements of dominant global discourses in national education policies, and demonstrate pervasive inequalities in policy participation.

Author Biography

Alexandra McCormick, University of Sydney

Alex McCormick is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. She teaches on courses about educational development, poverty and education, and teaching, and works periodically as an ESL teacher.  Alex holds degrees in International Studies and English and Comparative Literature.)

Juliana McLaughlin is an academic at Queensland University of Technology, where she teaches and researches in Indigenous studies, education and research ethics.  She is a recipient of two Australian Government competitive research grants (ARC Linkage and ALTC).  Dr McLaughlin is a member of journal editorial boards in Australia and PNG. She publishes in decolonising university curriculum, research and comparative education.