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 13 September 2017

    Strategic ignorance, political elites, and the false economy of education privatisation

    By Susan L. Robertson, University of Cambridge I often puzzle over how it is that though we know so much about the spectacular failures of privatisation initiatives in the social and education sectors, international agencies and governments, from the UK to the USA and Liberia continue to be hell-bent on...

    Strategic ignorance, political elites, and the false economy of education privatisation
  2. Opinion 8 September 2017

    Evaluating the Liberian school privatisation program

    By Tyler Hook, University of Wisconsin In September 2016, the Ministry of Education of Liberia officially launched a public private partnership called the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) pilot, with 8 providers operating 93 schools. Promoted with the aim of dramatically improving learning outcomes for children, in an equitable, cost-effective,...

    Evaluating the Liberian school privatisation program
  3. News 7 September 2017

    The Liberian Government's school privatisation program exposed

    A leaked copy of the Government commissioned report investigating the Partnership Schools for Liberia programme has concluded that it cannot work “with sustainable budgets and staffing levels, and without negative side effects on other schools.”

    The Liberian Government's school privatisation program exposed
  4. Research

    Nepal: Patterns of privatisation in education

    Pramod Bhatta and Tejendra Pherali
    6 September 2017

    This research provides an overview of the trajectories and forms of education privatisation in Nepal, with a special focus on low-fee and chain schools. In doing so, it seeks to contribute to the ongoing, critical debate about the relationships between students’ rights to quality education, teachers’ rights to quality working...

    Nepal: Patterns of privatisation in education
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  5. Research

    We the educators

    10 August 2017

    The objective of this literature review was exploratory in nature, and because of the depth of the literature (both academic and non-academic) available on standardisation, personalisation and privatisation, this review focuses primarily on scholarly articles and books published in the past decade.

    We the educators
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  6. Opinion 7 August 2017

    The private advantage that isn’t: School costs and student achievement in Australia

    By Chris Bonnor Whenever Australian educators go overseas they are often asked how we provide and fund schools in the antipodes. It's hard to explain because it is complicated and at odds with practice elsewhere. It is a story about the failure of policy, supported by mounting evidence that our...

    The private advantage that isn’t: School costs and student achievement in Australia
  7. News 4 August 2017

    India: unions oppose privatisation of schools

    Unions have voiced their strong opposition to the memorandum of understanding between public authorities and private education providers during a public forum against the privatisation of education in Hyderabad, India.

    India: unions oppose privatisation of schools
  8. Opinion 31 July 2017

    Liberia’s Private Experiment in Education

    By Tyler Hook & the University of Wisconsin research team The Ministry of Education (MoE) in Liberia launched the PSL pilot project in 2016, handing over 94 schools to 8 private service providers, enrolling approximately 27,000 students. Modeled after the United States charter and the United Kingdom (UK) academy systems,...

    Liberia’s Private Experiment in Education
  9. News 31 July 2017

    Liberia: civil society rejects privatisation project

    Unions and civil society organisations have warned about the devastating effects of the privatisation of education on both students and teachers during the launch of a new study on Liberia’s PSL project.

    Liberia: civil society rejects privatisation project
  10. Research

    Partnership Schools for Liberia: a critical review

    Tyler Hook
    11 July 2017

    This report reviews and analyses documents related to the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) pilot. The analysis focuses on three key areas: transparency and accountability, students and teachers, and scalability and sustainability.

    Partnership Schools for Liberia: a critical review
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  11. Research

    School vouchers and the privileges of choice

    Tore Bernt Sorensen
    11 July 2017

    Since the 1980s, the debate on school vouchers has been prominent along with the more general efforts to institute market forces, school choice, and privatisation in education sectors in many countries.

    School vouchers and the privileges of choice
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  12. Opinion 6 July 2017

    The issue of data privacy in public education

    By Anna Hogan, Bob Lingard & Greg Thompson Data has become the new black in public education. It is generated by students, schools and systems and collected and analysed by a variety of organisations. While traditionally data has been held by government departments, increasingly we are seeing commercial entities accessing...

    The issue of data privacy in public education
  13. News 4 July 2017

    America’s largest teachers’ union faces down Trump administration over charter schools

    The National Education Association will not meet with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos until she answers simple questions about her commitment to accountability and transparency for charter schools and to protecting America’s most vulnerable students.

    America’s largest teachers’ union faces down Trump administration over charter schools
  14. News 29 June 2017

    Ivory Coast: Weary of privatisation, educators launch inquiry

    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.

    Ivory Coast: Weary of privatisation, educators launch inquiry
  15. News 27 June 2017

    UN resolution lets governments off the hook

    In many ways, the United Nations’ new resolution on the right to education is a positive step forward but unfortunately opts for the development of regulations for private providers instead of urging governments to uphold their responsibilities.

    UN resolution lets governments off the hook
  16. Publications

    Pearson and the neo-liberal global assault on public education

    Alan Singer and Eustace Thompson
    26 June 2017

    Pearson, the British-based mega-publisher, testing company, and Third World edu-entrepreneur, has inordinate influence over education policy around the world, yet it also has serious vulnerabilities. Corporate over-reach generates inefficacies that alienate its customer base and contributed to “blowback” campaigns against the company. This essay explores the Pearson and neo-liberal threats...

    Pearson and the neo-liberal global assault on public education
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