For the last two decades the World Bank (WB) has increased its economic and ideological influence in setting the educational policy agenda of the so-called less developed countries (LDC). The economic crisis of two poor regions of the world in the 1980s (Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America), the reduction of bilateral forms of educational aid, and the economic and political protagonism of the WB through Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs), and loan conditionality have been important factors in locating the WB as a real subject of the educational globalization process. Since the 1990s, however, the WB hegemony in the economic, social and educational policies for development has been challenged by the evident failure of SAPS as a mechanism for achieving economic growth and the involvement of LDC in the global economy. In the educational field, direct and indirect effects of WB policies have had a negative impact on a number of indicators, while hitting especially the poorest sectors of society. Some authors have observed in this crisis a real challenge for the institution and the reason for the reconstruction of the WB's economic and educational policies. Changes in the role allocated to the state, new forms of attacking poverty or new strategies to set up links with the civil society are seen as clear signs of policy change. This article analyses the current WB educational policy priorities and strategies to assess the extent to which a real policy change can be observed. The article will show that, while there are some movements in the WB agenda, the theory, principles and expected outcomes of the WB education policy remain unaltered. Those observed movements, on the other hand, are interpreted as part of the necessary legitimisation strategies developed by the Bank to deal with its self-attributed role as the institution responsible for global welfare. © 2002, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.