The education sector has characteristics that have political as well as technical implications. They affect the ways in which individuals and groups interact in relation to the delivery of education services. Achieving improvements in sector outcomes demands strategies that are politically feasible and effective as well as technically sufficient. In practice, this means that achieving education for all will require confronting and working with the political dynamics that are generated with respect to access and quality, and across levels of education. Using a structured approach to understanding the relationship between technical and political features can help to make sense of key sector debates (such as the role of access to information), reconcile apparent contradictions (for example, between political commitments and outcomes), and strengthen understanding of why education might either outpace or lag behind other sectors in a given context.