Uruguay: the latent privatisation and commercialisation of education is setting off alarm bells

The launch of a new study on the commercialisation and privatisation of education in Uruguay was an eye-opener to those who believed public education was safe from becoming a commodity.

A new study commissioned by Education International (EI) sheds light on the commercialisation process that is slowly impacting public education in Uruguay. Privatización educativa en Uruguay: políticas, actores y posiciones (Education privatisation in Uruguay: policy, actors and standpoints) was officially launched on October 25th during a public event in the capital city of Montevideo.

The study was carried out by a team of scholars from the Universities of Barcelona (UAB) and Uruguay (UdelaR). Its results point towards the latent privatisation of education in Uruguay, with increasing signs showing the influence of international, for-profit education providers in the country’s public system.

Mauro Moschetti, one of the researchers, was present at the event in Montevideo. He explained how the number of private schools had increased at a much faster pace than the growth of public schools, especially in rural areas, between 1990 and 2015.

He underlined the impact of private trusts and foundations on Uruguayan public opinion through supposedly independent studies that undermine the image of public education and question the legitimacy of education unions. Mass media, he said, were part of this defamatory campaign that was eroding the value attributed to free public education.

Angelo Gavrielatos, programme director of EI’s Global Response against the privatisation and commercialisation of education, pointed out that the results of the study were “timely” and called for action from education unions, civil society and policy makers. “We can still counter the challenges and stop the dynamics that are weakening and privatising public education,” he said.

According to the education unions of Uruguay, who hosted the launch of the study, this evidence must be followed by a public awareness-raising effort that puts public education in the right perspective. The launch of the study was part of a three-day programme that included meetings with national authorities, union delegates and civil society.

You can access the report Privatización educativa en Uruguay: políticas, actores y posiciones by clicking here.

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