Resolution on: Expanding and Sustaining the Global Response to Commercialisation & Privatisation of Education

published 12 September 2019 updated 13 September 2019

The 8th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21st to 26th July 2019 notes that:

(1) the growing commercialisation and privatisation of education is one of the greatest threats to education as a fundamental human right and a public good. It undermines the rights of children, students and the teaching profession and places the future of public education and the sovereign capacity of countries to establish an educational policy linked to their own projects to promote sustainable development in great peril.

(2) governments are abrogating their policy commitments and legislative and financing obligations for the achievement of inclusive and equitable, free quality public education for all. In some instances, governments are actively facilitating and/or encouraging the commercialisation and privatisation of education, transferring public resources to the private sector, or facilitating the entry of private actors into public management not only in their countries but also abroad as part of their international development programmes;

(3) despite readily available evidence, including their own, pointing to the detrimental effects of privatisation, international financial institutions continue to promote the privatisation and commercialisation of education in a myriad of ways, including through programmes that create markets for private actors;

(4) global corporate actors are wielding significant and increasing political and policy influence at the global and national levels, often with neglect and disregard for the law by some of these corporate actors when it conflicts with their business plans and interests.

(5) the threat of commercialisation and privatisation is informed by an analysis that corporate actors view education as little more than a marketplace of business opportunities with our students seen as mere exploitable economic units and education workers as dispensable, in an attempt to satisfy an insatiable profit motive and greed;

(6) the neo-liberal 'reform' process - from the commercialisation and privatisation of education provision through to the monetisation and standardisation of assessment, curriculum, pedagogy and teacher education - is designed to maximise access to and profit of the $5 trillion per annum (USD) education industry;

(7) a comprehensive and inclusive curriculum is under threat of being seized and shaped by corporate actors responding to neoliberal interests;

(8) currently only 2 percent of the so-called ‘education market’ is digitised. There is strong evidence that education technology (ed-tech) companies intend to increase their market share by directly targeting students, bypassing the profession, with negative consequences for teaching and learning. The pace of commercialisation and privatisation will be increasingly driven by the digitalisation of education.


(9) the importance, in light of the global expansion of the process of privatisation and commercialisation of education, of educators and their unions taking the initiative to develop a common strategy at the international level, as embodied in the Global Response, based on research, communication, organisation and mobilisation;

(10) the success of the Global Response in drawing attention to privatisation and commercialisation of education, raising greater awareness of associated threats to the right to quality education for all, and building political momentum;

(11) the achievement of effective capacity and unity building materialised through direct action at the national level in response to the commonly identified threat of privatisation;

(12) the significance of solidarity evidenced through direct political support by member organisations within and across countries, regionally and globally.

Congress mandates the Executive Board and requests all member organisations to:

(13) reaffirm our commitment and resolve to deepen and grow the Global Response, making the campaign more extensive in scope, working across all sectors and classifications of members;

(14) renew our efforts at the local, national and regional levels thereby strengthening EI's advocacy at the global level in challenging and opposing profit making in education as it undermines the right of all students to free, quality education and creates and entrenches inequalities; and harms the working conditions and rights of teachers and other education workers;

(15) continue to build solidarity within and across national settings necessary to confront the ever-increasing influence and reach of global corporate actors and intergovernmental agencies promoting privatisation at the global and national levels.

(16) continue to explore opportunities linking national member organisation campaigns across the Global South with national member organisation led campaigns in the Global North. EI will also further integrate the Global Response with its Development Cooperation (DC) work as well as with member organisations’ DC work. Furthermore, EI and member organisations will continue to build and deepen alliances with the broader union movement, civil society, NGOs and like-minded allies.

(17) continue to conduct the research needed to unveil the mechanisms of commercialisation and the actions of ostensibly philanthropic organisations that influence public education policies.

Resourcing will be targeted

(18) to sustain and continue to expand the reach of the Global Response. Particular attention will be given to

(i) continuing to hold States accountable for guaranteeing the right to public education and securing relevant funding;

(ii) enhancing our reach through traditional and, more importantly, social media ensuring effective impact on multiple target audiences, including members, politicians, intergovernmental agencies;

(iii) furthering EI and member organisations’ documentation and research capacity to confront the commercialisation of education. An important area of work will include the expanding role of education technology and artificial intelligence (AI) in education whenever it is likely to impact negatively on quality teaching and learning;

(iv) exploring legal options aimed at holding reckless corporate actors and their supporters to account;

(v) developing lobbying materials, talking points and other resources to assist member organisations in lobbying their national governments.

(vi) activating targeted member organisations to connect with academics and lobby their national governments regarding matters of high concern to Global Response;

(19) towards building and expanding the Global Response in all countries and in particular in developing countries;

(20) to support the halting of the encroachment of the private sector on publicly funded public education in developed countries.