There was consensus that it is essential to address macro-economic factors if sustainable changes in the pattern of financing education are to be achieved. One delegation, welcoming the emphasis in the documents on the need to reduce the indebtedness of developing countries, suggested that a link be forged between debt reduction, savings from arms expenditures, and education expansion and improvement.
Some delegates saw a direct causal relationship between insistence on debt repayment and the under-education of children in poor countries. They asserted that Sub-Saharan Africa's long term debt has equalled its GNP, making it the most heavily-indebted continent in the world, and that in Latin America in 1987, the total of all countries' debt servicing was equivalent to 90 percent of their total overall trade balance. With this economic picture, aggravated by population growth pressures, some delegates saw limited utility in making education plans and strategies, as there are neither resources nor promising perspectives for bringing them to reality.
There exists no possibility of education transformation in Latin America without a dramatic change in the economic picture.
While developing countries should be constantly monitoring their performance, they would not totally be able to bear the heavy costs of ensuring education for all, even without the additional debt burden. As one European delegate put it:
New ways of developing education... have to be found which partially draw on appropriate formulae for reconversion of debt.
There was strong consensus that all structural adjustment programmes should include mechanisms to protect against the lowering of expenditure on social sectors within such programmes. In the words of two European delegates:
Structural adjustment programmes aimed at more effective utilization of scarce resources should more thoroughly address fundamental financing problems in the social sectors.
Adjustment policies can only bear fruit if accompanied by measures to sustain and improve quality education services.
The uniqueness of this historic moment also compelled several delegations to suggest that the time is appropriate to shift resources from defence expenditure to more sociallyproductive uses, specifically to investments in education.
Governments must be willing to shift resources to education from socially less productive uses-such as defence and subsidies for public enterprises.
President, World Bank
Speaking on behalf of Latin America, the delegate from Argentina stated:
We are convinced that the utilization for education of resources presently allocated to arms, can constitute one of the pillars of the desired transformation.
Country delegates reiterated that national authorities have ultimate responsibility for allocating necessary human, material and financial resources to basic education. One delegate even a rgued that the real need may be less for external assistance than for giving greater priority to education in designing national budgets. But the majority of interventions on the subject posited the need for both internal restructuring and external aid.
When all the talk is finished, there are two vital questions to be answered: What is this... going to cost and who is going to pay?