What educators need to know about global trade deals

Susan L. Robertson, Joanna Tidy, Santiago Ayuso Arcas

published 14 December 2017 updated 5 January 2022
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The EI study What Educators Need to Know About Global Trade Deals explores the economic, political and social conditions, development agendas, combinations of actors and regulatory instruments, which together have challenged the idea of, and conditions for, education as a public service and a human right by locking in a market and profit-based framing of education in trade deals.

How and why has this state of affairs emerged? How and why has education, as an entitlement and human right, been reframed as ‘an education services sector’? What part is the government playing in opening up education to private sector interests and for-profit companies, and enabling it to be part of trade deals? And, finally, what are the implications of this market/trade framing for democratic education and sustainable futures?

This study shows that global trade deals matter to educators because the overall purpose of these negotiations is to reframe education and treat it as a tradeable services sector open to investors. In addition,  trade agreements introduce new regulatory frameworks and mechanisms to ensure that education not only continues rapidly down the path of further market liberalisation, but that the interests of investors are protected by limiting government’s policy-making spaces.  The research concludes with 10 reasons for saying NO to trade deals in education and why. Furthermore, it also sets out steps that would take us away from a narrow focus on economism and profits, to one that guarantees the rights of all citizens to have a say over theirs and the next generation’s future.