Ei-iE

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Fighting the commercialisation of education

Education is a human right and a public good that can be fully realised only through the provision of free, equitable, inclusive, quality public education. The growing commercialisation and privatisation in and of the sector is the greatest threat to the universal right to education.

Across the world, corporate interests are striving to transform all levels of education, from early childhood to higher education, into yet another market with winners and losers. As private-sector management models are applied to education institutions, employment conditions in the sector are being undermined. As low-fee, low-quality private schools expand rapidly, there is a risk that governments abrogate their responsibility to ensure the right to education for all. Unaccountable corporations have undue influence on education policies and institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend which risks transforming education into a commodity, favouring profit over quality education.

As educators, we put students before profit. In 2015 we launched our Global Response to the Commercialisation and Privatisation of Education. Through this campaign, we work to expose and challenge the policies and practices of governments, intergovernmental organisations and international financial institutions which undermine public education and the rights and status of teachers and education support personnel. We also resist global corporate actors, especially education technology providers, who push the commercialisation and privatisation in and of education.

Our work in this area

  1. Opinion 19 June 2018

    “Between hope and despair in the EU copyright reform- What's in it for education?”, by Nikola Wachter

    Nikola Wachter

    I am a teacher by training and I am concerned about the current European Union copyright reform. I am familiar with the day to day practices of preparing lessons, the search for the best picture, text snippet, piece of music or video that will help me to explain a certain...

    “Between hope and despair in the EU copyright reform- What's in it for education?”, by Nikola Wachter
  2. News 18 June 2018

    EI urges Pearson, The World Bank and DFID UK to stop supporting Bridge International

    In letters addressed to the leaders of the Pearson, The World Bank and the Department for International Development (DfID) of the United Kingdom, Education International urged the organizations to stop their sponsorship of Bridge International Academies, a for-profit school chain with operations in Africa and Asia.

    EI urges Pearson, The World Bank and DFID UK to stop supporting Bridge International
  3. News 14 June 2018

    Education issues high on the WIPO agenda

    Through statements in plenary, organising a side event, meeting with delegates and collaborating with other civil society actors, Education International has reaffirmed the importance of advancing on international copyright exceptions at the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights of the World Intellectual Property Organisation.

    Education issues high on the WIPO agenda
  4. Opinion 7 June 2018

    Educational Technology: Hasten slowly, question everything and stay in charge

    By Maurie Mulheron, President NSW Teachers Federation Many years ago, as a young teacher in the late 1970s, I read an article about Japan and mathematics teaching in relation to what was then new technology – the overhead projector. It may have been apocryphal, but I still found the story...

    Educational Technology: Hasten slowly, question everything and stay in charge
  5. Opinion 31 May 2018

    Public and low-cost private schools in Lagos: a comparative study

    By Unterhalter E., Robinson L., & Ibrahim J. The greatest challenge facing Nigeria is rebuilding high-quality education for a future with jobs and opportunities for all. In 1973, a National Pledge guaranteed every child born from the end of the civil war, compulsory free, quality primary education. It was later...

    Public and low-cost private schools in Lagos: a comparative study
  6. News 28 May 2018

    Nigerian children targeted by for-profit education corporation

    Foreign edu-business corporations, such as Bridge International Academies (BIA), are targeting families in Lagos, Nigeria by setting up fee charging education facilities to expand their business model. For parents looking for a quality school for their children, is this a good option?

    Nigerian children targeted by for-profit education corporation
  7. News 25 May 2018

    High Court slams Bridge International Academies

    In a groundbreaking ruling, the High Court of Uganda has determined that Bridge International Academies (BIA), a for-profit edubusiness, deliberately set up illegal operations in the country with blatant disregard for national laws and regulations.

    High Court slams Bridge International Academies
  8. Opinion 25 May 2018

    New Zealand Government rejects a profit-focused education system

    By Paul Goulter, General Secretary, NZEI New Zealand’s education unions and allies who care about quality public education have been on a bit of a high for the past few months.

    New Zealand Government rejects a profit-focused education system
  9. Publications and Research

    Quality and equalities: a comparative study of public and low-cost private schools in Lagos

    Elaine Unterhalter
    16 May 2018

    One of the greatest challenges facing Nigeria is rebuilding high-quality, free public education for all. State promises on this date back to the 1973 National Pledge and have been repeated in policies and declarations. However, repeated failures to fulfil these promises has led to private sector intervention, and the commercialisation...

    Quality and equalities: a comparative study of public and low-cost private schools in Lagos
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  10. Opinion 16 May 2018

    Celebrating education’s unsung heroes, by David Edwards

    David Edwards

    In quality education systems around the world, behind student success there are invisible armies of education support personnel (ESP). These under-recognised workers are too often forgotten or ignored, but are absolutely vital for student success and wellbeing.

    Celebrating education’s unsung heroes, by David Edwards
  11. Opinion 14 May 2018

    Questioning Bridge International Academies expansion into South Asia

    by Momina Afridi, University of Toronto Increasing donor dependency and a desired “quick-fix” to the schooling dilemma of millions have pushed some low-income country governments in Africa and South Asia to collaborate with international private school chains. Bridge International Academies (BIA) is a for-profit that aims  “to be the global...

    Questioning Bridge International Academies expansion into South Asia
  12. News 8 May 2018

    Educators confront Pearson for funding profit driven Bridge International Academies

    Education activists, teachers and global union leaders went to London to urge shareholders at the Pearson Annual General Meeting to stop funding Bridge International Academies, a for-profit company that makes money by shortchanging the education of thousands of at risk children.

    Educators confront Pearson for funding profit driven Bridge International Academies
  13. Opinion 8 May 2018

    #ResNet: "Wheeling and Dealing in Education and Global Trade Agreements", by Susan L. Robertson

    Susan Robertson

    As the minutes ticked down toward the final boarding call for my late evening train from London to Brussels, I was furiously typing up notes from a research report I had just read on the Trade in Services Agreement, otherwise known as TISA. The young man sitting next to me...

    #ResNet: "Wheeling and Dealing in Education and Global Trade Agreements", by Susan L. Robertson
  14. Opinion 30 April 2018

    Preventing a Facebook Data Breach in Public Education

    By Patricia Burch, University of Southern California “It was my mistake and I am sorry.” Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified on April 10th before a joint session of the Senate commerce and judiciary committee. He and his company have been accused of looking the other way as companies and governments...

    Preventing a Facebook Data Breach in Public Education
  15. News 27 April 2018

    Five reasons Pearson (and everyone else) should stop investing in Bridge Academies right now

    Pearson Education has invested tons of money in fee-charging, for-profit schools operated by Bridge International Academies. Many Bridge schools use unqualified staff, unofficial curriculum in substandard facilities. Its fees can push families into further poverty.

    Five reasons Pearson (and everyone else) should stop investing in Bridge Academies right now
  16. Opinion 23 April 2018

    Recovering the political in the idea of education as a public good - and why this matters

    By Susan Robertson, University of Cambridge On more than one occasion I have felt a distinct sense of unease at how much of educational activity is now framed in economic terms. Learners are ‘human capital’  - or to use a phrase that the economist, Gary Becker, coined – ‘an abilities...

    Recovering the political in the idea of education as a public good - and why this matters