The History of Educational Planning in Developing Countries Through the Lens of the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)
Maren Elfert

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



King’s College London

Primary Discipline

History of Education
In the 1960s educational planning emerged as a key pillar of development as a foreign policy strategy. My interpretive historical-sociological study will trace the history of educational planning in developing countries through the lens of the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP), founded in 1963 by UNESCO, the World Bank and the Ford Foundation, which has greatly contributed to shaping the field. Drawing on interviews and extensive research in several archives in France, Germany and the United States, the study will tie the history of the IIEP to the development of the field of educational planning from the early 1960s to the present time, examining its origins and ideological underpinnings and the changing trends in the thinking about development in the context of the shifting political economy. The study, which will be framed by neo-institutional sociological theory and development theories, will document the history of a highly underresearched organization whose role as focal point and norm-setter of educational trends warrants attention, and it will make a theoretical contribution to the body of knowledge related to educational planning. A scholarly and historical perspective on educational planning is timely in light of recent debates about its shortcomings in the age of the Sustainable Development Goals.
About Maren Elfert
Maren Elfert is a Lecturer in Education and Society in the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s College London. She holds an M.A. from the Free University of Berlin and a PhD in Educational Studies from the University of British Columbia. Before pursuing doctoral studies, she worked for over a decade as a member of the professional staff at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, Germany. Her research examines how international organizations contribute to the globalization of educational ideas, with a focus on the tension between neoliberal approaches to education and discourses of human rights. Her book UNESCO’s Utopia of Lifelong Learning: An Intellectual History (Routledge, 2018) traces how UNESCO has shaped the concept of lifelong learning in the context of the shifting political economy and landscape of global governance of education.

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