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La Educación
Número: (117) I
Año: 1994


On July 13, 1979 Research Country,1 a developing nation in Latin America and the Caribbean, entered into a Loan Agreement with the World Bank for provision of funds to execute a major education project. The sum loaned to Research Country was U.S. $20 million (World Bank 1979a) to be used for:

a) construction, furnishing and equipping of twenty-seven primary schools, two secondary schools and two Teacher Development Centers;

b) extensions to eight existing secondary schools and;

c) provision of approximately thirty “man-years” of technical assistance including provision of project management services.

There were two previous World Bank funded initiatives in Research Country, but the present project was markedly different. It was only partially implemented because it was plagued by a number of implementational problems, and therefore did not achieve the minimum critical mass to have made any significant impact upon the education system in Research Country. Initially a five-year project, it ran for seven years, coming to official conclusion in 1986. Before money could be “drawn down” from the loan by the borrower, Research Country, certain binding conditions had to be met “to try and ensure that the money is spent effectively” (Iredale 1990, 163). The Loan Agreement could not become effective until stipulated conditions were met. This procedure is not unusual.

In the present project two major conditions for loan effectiveness (eligibility of the borrower to initiate and continue draw down of loan funds) were demanded by the lender, the World Bank. These were establishment of an indigenous Project Implementation Unit within the local Ministry of Education, and engagement of a Project Management Team. Regarding technical personnel, their qualifications for appointment, retention as well as terms and conditions of service had to be satisfactory to the Bank.

The date agreed upon for loan effectiveness was October 16, 1979, approximately three months subsequent to signing the Loan Agreement. By this date, however, only one of these conditions, staffing of the Project Implementation Unit, had been accomplished. The latter condition, engagement of a Project Management Team, proved to be elusive, worrisome and problematical. A sequence of loan effectiveness dates came to be established (Table 1), but as new dates were agreed upon, their unattainability was soon realized. Cancellation of previous dates and reestablishment of new ones became a special feature at this point in implementation of the project. Main causes of the difficulty were political, cultural, and administrative problems in the decision-making process in Research Country.