Michael Barber, the ex-teaching union staffer who was the main adviser to previous UK Prime Minsiter Tony Blair on education 'reform', is now at the heart of the World Bank's strategy to move away from a putative concern for 'client demands' and emphasise the private sector as the centre of its work. As the leader of Indonesian NGO Aksi : "the Bank has already lost its grounding in reality. It is now the time for the Bank to revise its charter from serving development to serving the capital markets and corporations."

Barber is the chief education adviser to Pearson, the company which is making mega profits out of education software and publishing. Pearson is responsible for much of the testing and online curriculum materials, which are being fought by US teacher activists, as they campaign for critical and creative education. Pearson makes more profits out of education than any other company in the world. The company also invests in private schools in Africa and Asia, a policy which is supported by both the World Bank and the UK Department for International Development, which purport to see so called 'low cost private schools' as an important  answer to providing education for all. This follows the theories of arch neo-liberal education reformer, James Tooley, who also runs chains of low fee private schools in India and Africa and has written extensively on the subject for example in a book entitled: Private Education is Good for the Poor: a study of private schools serving the poor in low-income countries. The idea that making profit out of schooling by taking money from parents who are living below the poverty line, bizarre though it sounds, is at the heart of neo-liberal thinking. In India for example, private schools for the poor are mushrooming as public education is systematically denigrated and starved of funds, so that public schools become the preserve only of the poorest of the poor.

The embedding of Barber at the heart of its work is of a piece with the bank's continual , particularly in the Global South, blaming them for the failure to reach the so-called Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education by 2015. Teachers are accused by the World Bank of being lazy and incompetent in publication after publication and the solutions prescribed are short term contracts, performance related pay and non-stop data collection. These policies  bring us back to Michael Barber, who invented the concept of 'Deliverology' - the idea that the way to 'improve standards' in education is to concentrate on measurable data and targets, particularly through standardised testing, league tables and other so-called accountability measures.

Meanwhile private business gets its feet ever more firmly under the education table, helped by the kind of people who are trumpeted by many NGOs and development organisations as the heroes of the fight for education for all. The wife of Gordon Brown, another ex UK prime minister who is now the UN's special envoy for education, chairs the Global Business Coalition for Education. This coalition, according to Sarah Brown sees its mission as to  “develop new financial instruments which translate the future economic value of talent into an attractive – and as yet untapped – investment opportunity for businesses and impact investors today.”

In Kenya, the union which is fighting for a living wage for teachers, KNUT, has the role of the World Bank in pushing countries into seeing profitable technology as the 'answer' for the education deficit suffered by the poor, instead of well trained and rewarded teachers. Meanwhile the man who disparaged and degraded the work of teachers in the UK, helping to turn them into deliverers of targets and shrink-wrapped curricula and methodology rather than autonomous professionals, has now turned his attention to the global mission of the World Bank to allow private business to direct the future direction of what were public services for the public good, particularly in the Global South. We in the North can only apologise for the export.