The privatisation of education was the focus of two days of meetings in Beirut, Lebanon where the leaders of Education International’s Arab countries cross regional structure addressed the problem head on.
When union leaders convened in Beirut from 7-8 December for the Education International (EI) Arab countries cross regional structure, the privatisation of education dominated the conversation.
Angelo Gavrielatos, EI Project Director, presented the organisation’s global response to the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education.
Regional speakers were also invited to reflect the regions political economic analysis of privatisation of education in the Arab countries: Dr. Jad Chaaban, Associate Professor of Economics at the American University of Beirut spoke about privatisation as viewed by governments in post-conflict countries; and Hanna Gharib, a teacher unionist, stressed that education is a public right, and detailed the effects of privatisation on public education, inclusive education, citizenship, and teachers’ rights.
The dynamic workshop allowed participants to break into country groups to report on privatisation trends, in view of the political changes in the region, where governments take advantage of unstable conditions to benefit from development aids threatening the public sector, including public education systems. They also agreed on a number of steps to be taken regionally, in addition to national steps that are going to be used to inform EI on the in-country situations.
Suggestions were also made as to how the EI global campaign against the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education can support initiatives of the Arab unions towards universal access to quality public education.
The main points covered included:
· Introducing EI work and its global response to privatisation, in line with EI relevant resolutions and the UN sustainable development goals adopted last September;
· Presenting trends towards privatisation in Arab countries
· Discussing the status of Arab countries in relation to the work done globally, and exploring possible actions, such as research, assessment, capacity building for awareness-raising and legislative lobbying at national or regional contexts