Canada: Impact of education privatisation outlined at international seminar

published 11 July 2017 updated 20 July 2017

The growing privatisation of public education in Canada - and globally – is of increasing concern to experts at an international seminar in Ottawa.

The privatisation and commercialisation in and of public education, both nationally and internationally, was the focus of the first day of the Canadian Forum on Public Education, hosted by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF) on 10-11 July in Ottawa, Canada. The event was attended by 100 teacher leaders from across Canada.

CTF President Heather Smith outlined the Canadian perspective while David Edwards, Deputy General Secretary of Education International, highlighted the importance of galvanising teacher unions’ efforts to counter the corporate quest for profits in the education sector.

EI’s Global Response Project Director, Angelo Gavrielatos, described how edu-businesses, including Pearson, use standardised tests as a point of entry to the education sector.

Battles against privatisation

First-hand examples of privatisation were provided by speakers, including Juliet Sasagah Wajega, Deputy General Secretary of the 160,000-member Uganda National Teachers’ Union. She described how her union was able to mobilise and halt Bridge International Academies (BIA) from providing low quality, low-fee public education.

Canadian researcher Curtis Riep described his arrest – under false charges - in Uganda because of his research into BIA schools in that country. And, Luc Allaire, General Secretary, Comité syndical francophone de l’éducation et de la formation and Advisor for international relations at the Centrale des syndicats du Québec was joined by his colleague, Alec Larose, to outline education privatisation in Quebec and how private schools compete with public schools that offer special projects.

And, in the closing presentation, Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, described the challenges faced by educators under the Trump administration.

On Day 2, Tuesday, July 11, the programme will feature the Canadian launch of “We the Educators”, which will also be livestreamed on Facebook.

Presentations by David Edwards, Angelo Gavrielatos and Randi Weingarten were also livestreamed via Facebook and are now available on the CTF Facebook page.