Curriculum development and the definition, selection and organization of educational contents encompass both a technical and a political dimension. As a process, curriculum development, reform and change require the construction of a shared vision; appropriate communication strategies; wide-ranging partnerships; and dialogue, consultation and negotiation among different stakeholders at different levels.
The policy dialogue dimension is therefore embodied in all of the IBE’s field-based activities intended to support curriculum development processes and to assist transition and post-conflict countries in the development and implementation of new curriculum frameworks. Moreover, the Community of Practice (COP) of curriculum specialists has an important role in orientating and facilitating constructive intellectual debates, policy dialogue and the development of conceptual orientations and frameworks for quality basic education.
At the global level, the major contribution of the IBE in this area is the International Conference on Education (ICE), whose sessions have been organized by the Institute on behalf of UNESCO for many decades.
Convened on a regular basis, the sessions of the Conference have been the first and, for a long time, the main forum for world-level policy dialogue between ministers of education, particularly during the period 1934–1970. The ICE is an important occasion for ministers of education to discuss issues of quality, equity and inclusion. Other partners and stakeholders, such as researchers, practitioners, and representatives of intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, usually participate actively in the dialogue.
Starting from 2003 the IBE has also provided training in policy dialogue, mainly aimed at encouraging: the elaboration of a common vision for education; and the usage of tools supporting the decision-making process, such as sectoral analyses, negotiation, communication, dialogue with all the stakeholders, as well as the mobilization of partnerships.