Resolution on privatisation and commercialisation in and of education

published 25 July 2015 updated 31 March 2017

The 7th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Ottawa, Canada, from 21nd to 26th July 2015:

1. Reaffirming that education, from early childhood education through higher education, is a fundamental human right and a public good, and that its provision is the principal responsibility of governments, including the duties of the State to define the goals and objectives of education systems of quality and to adequately finance them, and to do this in consultation and negotiation with representatives of teachers’ unions ;

2. Noting that privatization in and of education, in its many forms and arrangements, is a fast-growing global trend with various, and often negative, consequences for teachers, education support personnel, students and society as a whole.

3. Noting with concern the increased engagement and promotion of private actors in education governance (provision, funding, management and policy-making), coupled with major challenges in terms of educational access, equity and quality, and the lack of political commitment to the provision and financing of public education systems in many low- and middle-income countries;

4. Deploring the fact that in many countries, governments have abrogated their core responsibility to ensure the right to education for all through a fully accountable free quality public education system, and are increasingly turning to, or partnering with, or subsidising private actors to deliver education;

5. Regretting that international and national organizations, corporations, think tanks, NGOs, other private actors and governments alike, are promoting, proselytizing and introducing different forms of privatization and commercial provision of education services;

6. Observing that education privatization and commercialization, has created and exacerbated, inequalities in access to, and in the quality of, education, particularly for the socio-economically disadvantaged; and that wealth, gender, ethnic and geographical inequalities are deepened by privatization in and of education, further marginalizing and excluding groups from access to and participation in education;

7. Observing that market-based reforms may force schools to compete with each other instead of collaborating, and lead to stratification, segregation and further inequality within education systems;

8. Considering that private schools and forms of Public-Private Partnerships may divert funding and support for public schools, thus weakening public school systems, particularly in contexts where government spending on education is already low;

9. Acknowledging that ‘cost-efficient’ measures in education may result in increased class sizes; a reduction in services provided for children; the use of unqualified teachers; the casualization of the terms and conditions of employment of education personnel, which are detrimental to the quality of education services. ;

10. Noting that low-fee private schools, and other private providers, and some forms of Public- Private Partnerships, frequently employ personnel who lack training and/or qualifications, or pay them much lower salaries than those earned by teachers employed in public schools, or deny them freedom of association and collective bargaining rights;

11. Observing that new public management methods, such as performance-based pay schemes, often part of privatization policies, alter the working conditions of education personnel and undermine their professional status and rights ;

12. Affirming that teachers’, higher education workers’ and education support personnel’s rights to decent working conditions, high quality training, fair recruitment and employment, and quality professional development must be guaranteed;

13. Noting that public management, commercialisation and privatisation practices are already well established at both national and international level in many parts of the further and higher education sector with extensive international trade, subsidisation of private actors and intense competition for fee paying students. These have had well established negative consequences for access, social equity, staff working conditions, academic freedom and collegial decision-making.”

14. Affirming that education unions, as representatives of education workers, are critically important in ensuring that the potentially negative effects of privatization and commercialization in and of education are exposed and addressed;

15. Referring to the EI Policy Paper on Education adopted by the 6th World Congress in 2011, and the Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in Education Protocol, based on recommendations from the EI Taskforce on Public-Private Partnerships in Education, adopted by 34th EI Executive Board meeting in 2009;

16. The 7th World Congress:

a. Urges governments to recognize education as fundamental for social development and justice, and, therefore, protect the public education sector from privatization and commercialization;

b. Calls for a concerted effort from EI and its member organizations to advocate for the full realization of the right to free quality public education and for equitable employment rights for education personnel in the private and the public sector;

c. Requests EI member organizations to closely monitor emerging education privatization policies and the effects of privatization and commercialization on education systems, as well as their impact on students, teachers, educators and education support personnel, and to advocate and mobilize against attempts to privatize and commercialize public education;

d. Urges EI member organizations, in accordance with their statutes and rules of procedure, to organize and defend the rights of teachers and education support personnel in the private and the public sector.

17. Mandates the EI Executive Board:

a. To collect, publish and disseminate with the support of member organizations, evidence on the activities of private actors in the promotion and implementation of privatization and commercialization policies and practices and the outcomes of their activities;

b. To develop a global response strategy to ensure governments fulfil their obligation to free, quality public education and counter the influence of private actors in education, especially where their activities in education have a negative impact on access and exacerbates inequities within education systems;

c. To launch a global campaign that engages EI affiliates and allies to respond to the growing outsourcing to, and involvement of, private actors in education-related activities and services that negatively impact on teaching and learning;

d. To provide tools and resources which strengthen the capacity of affiliates to mobilize effective campaigns to make all policy-makers, international organizations and other actors fully aware of the detrimental consequences of different forms of education privatization and to advocate for the protection of public education against marketization and commodification;

e. To establish an EI Task Force on Privatization and Commercialization of Education including a representative of the further and higher education sector in order to guide, inform and monitor this work and to continue to develop EI’s policy on the privatization and commercialization of education;

f. To encourage all EI member organizations to engage and mobilize their memberships, and allies in communities and civil society, in a pro-active campaign to defend public education and against attempts to privatize and commercialize education.