The expansion of private for-profit education in the West African country has caught the attention of education unions, leading to research and demands addressed at the government.
A meeting of educators in Abidjan, the economic capital of Ivory Coast, on the privatisation and commercialisation of education has shed interesting results. The assembled teachers and union leaders, who were joined by Assibi Napoe, from Education International’s (EI) African regional office and Luc Allaire, General Secretary of the Comité Syndical Francophone de l’Education et de la Formation, concluded that, in the face of the growing privatisation and commercialisation of education, and with the ever-increasing numbers of for-profit private schools in the country, a research into the consequences upon the country’s education system was urgent and necessary.
This project is in line with EI’s programme ‘Global Response against the commercialisation and privatisation of education’ as adopted by the first resolution of its World Congress in Ottawa in 2015, and would be the first step towards the analysis of this phenomenon in francophone African countries.
From research to advocacy
The research on the privatisation of education in Ivory Coast has provided evidence on the need to regulate and supervise the activities of for-profit schools in the country: with many families unable to afford school fees, private provision of education implies the exclusion of many from the education system.
The six education unions of Ivory Coast, allied under the umbrella structure “Education International Section of Ivory Coast” (EISIC) have decided to ask the government to evaluate private schools to ensure they comply with all regulations, including teacher training, adequate infrastructure, rigor in evaluation and teachers’ salaries and working conditions. Schools that not comply with the regulations should not receive support from the government with public money or receive a licence to operate, the meeting has concluded.
The EISIC will also demand the reinvestment of public funds into public schools, and will search allies for its cause amongst the actors of civil society, ranging from parents of students to NGOs active in the field of education and traditional local leaders.