The new abolitionists? The World Bank and the 'boldness' of global school fee elimination reforms

Frances Vavrus, Christina Kwauk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This article explores the ambiguity within the World Bank's (WB) stance on primary school fees by examining the recently launched school fee abolition initiative. Drawing on key texts from this initiative and two decades of WB educational policy, we suggest that the discursive work around school fees performed by the Bank is a reflection of broader historical shifts in its representation as a development institution. Our three-part analysis shows how the language of school fee abolition, its putative boldness as a policy initiative, and the careful construction of non-adversarial partnerships work to reposition the WB as a champion of global education rights without relinquishing its neoliberal policy prescriptions. The analysis demonstrates the inseparability of two strands of discourse analysis - the linguistic and the discursive - and the socially productive nature of their interaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-365
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • World Bank
  • institutional identity
  • neoliberalism
  • school fees
  • social capital
  • techno-politics


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