Education and other public services are basic human rights, which must not be viewed as commodities or be subjected to commercial trade rules.
In a statement to the 7th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation taking place in Geneva beginning 30 November, EI asserts that the overriding principles and objectives of the General Agreement on Trade in Services are in conflict with educational values.
“The GATS is a commercial agreement with the aim of expanding business opportunities for investors. By contrast, the goal of education is to serve the public interest: education advances human understanding, preserves and promotes cultures, and strengthens civil society and democratic institutions,” EI says.
“There are many unanswered questions about the potential impact of GATS disciplines on education. Once a country has agreed to commitments, GATS rules may enforce open education markets and enable offshore institutions and companies to engage freely in education activities. Local authorities, including accreditation and quality control agencies, may have little control.”