Education International
Education International

Africa workshop: Privatisation and the Right to Education

published 28 January 2014 updated 12 February 2014

EI research affiliates and GCE coalition representatives came together for a three-day Africa and MENA regional conference on “Privatisation and the Right to Education” in Johannesburg, South Africa on 16-18 January 2014.

Convened with the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) and the Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI), the workshop aimed to strengthen participants’ understanding of the multiple forms of and rationales for, privatisation in and of education.

Drawing on the example of the growing phenomenon of low-fee private schools in several African countries, including Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria, assumptions around equity, efficiency, effectiveness and affordability with regard to education privatisation were discussed and challenged.

In plenary discussions, participants raised various rights and justice concerns, including that education privatisation tendencies perpetuate inequalities in educational access and participation, threaten teachers’ fair working conditions and collective bargaining rights, and alter the role of the state as the primary provider of education.

Addressing the Education for All funding gap, the unchallenged assumption that there are no resources for education was problematized. The growing global discourse on alternative education funding sources were discussed, including implications of the privatisation of education financing, but also domestic resource revenue and untapped resources in taxation.

The importance of distinguishing between short-term responses to immediate challenges and long-term sustainable solutions with regard to education provision and financing were highlighted.

In an EI led session, key implications for teachers’ conditions, work and status were discussed with regard to education privatisation, and EI affiliates from Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda presented country cases, including the recruitment of contract teachers on very low salaries and private tutoring.

The workshop aimed to provide participants’ with the foundation tools to analyse the effects of privatisation initiatives.

These range from consequences for equity and equality to the impacts on public education and the state responsibility to guarantee the provision of, and funding for, quality education for all. Through practical group-work sessions, participants identified trends and key forms of private provision, and considered key concerns in their countries.

On the basis of this information, participants developed research frameworks and advocacy strategies to address - and facilitate civil society participation in debates on - education privatisation practices and trends in diverse national contexts.

To engage in debate on education privatisation please visit:

The Privatisation in Education Research Initiative (PERI) website

Education International’s ‘Education in Crisis’ website

GCE’s dedicated web-section on privatisation