Latin American education unions have convened in Chile to build a common strategy that will tackle the increasing privatisation and commercialisation of education, in line with Education International’s latest policy priority.
Union leaders from Argentina (CTERA, CONADU); Brazil (Proifes, CNTE, CONTEE), Chile (CPC, Integra2) and Colombia (FECODE) have gathered in Santiago de Chile from August 17-19 for a strategic meeting that has defined the continent’s strategy within the frame of the global response against the commercialisation and privatisation of education. The latter was defined as Education International (EI)’s main policy objective during its last Congress that took place in July in Ottawa, Canada.
Fátima Silva, Vice-President of the Regional Committee of EI for Latin America highlighted the importance of this new strategy in a region in which the last two decades have witnessed a lively debate on the topic of privatisation of education. Silva underlined the need to go from planning to action. In order to achieve this, the national, local and regional levels have to define a common plan, based on thorough and country-specific research.
Angelo Gavrielatos, who is spearheading the project from the headquarters of EI in Brussels, said that a global response was not only necessary but urgent: “We are witnessing the emergence of private actors whose size and power we could have never imagined”. He then went on to describe some of the most striking examples of privatisation of education around the world, in countries such as Ghana, Kenia, South Africa, India or the Philippines.
The participants contributed to the discussion with examples from their own countries, which have been affected by the phenomenon of privatisation in different ways, not least through the legislative action of their governments. This factor was recognised as one of the key determinants for future action: “Governments have to regulate profit-seeking corporations’ activity, especially when they benefit from public funding. Taxpayers’ money has to be invested and to benefit students, not multi-millionaire corporations”, emphasized Gavrielatos.
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