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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. Publications and Research

    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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  2. 26 June 2017

    Education and Training Policy in the European Semester - Public Investment, Public Policy, Social Dialogue and Privatisation Patterns across Europe

    The European Union has answered to the economic and financial crisis, adopting the Europe 2020 Strategy plan for sustainable, smart economic growth. Education, employment, fighting poverty and social exclusion are at the hearth of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the EU-policy making, coordinated through the European Semester coordination. Since the...

    Education and Training Policy in the European Semester - Public Investment, Public Policy, Social Dialogue and Privatisation Patterns across Europe
  3. Opinion 22 June 2017

    Venture philanthropy & the neoliberal ecosystem: who needs a Ministry of Education?

    By Antonio Olmedo, University of Roehampton Coinciding with this year's World Social Forum in Davos, Oxfam released a report based on Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook[1] , denouncing that the top 1% richest people have gained more income than the poorest 50% altogether[2] . The tendency seems to be worsening.

    Venture philanthropy & the neoliberal ecosystem: who needs a Ministry of Education?
  4. News 14 June 2017

    Education unionist elected onto ILO’s governing body

    Amanda Brown, the Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has been elected onto the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation as part of the workers’ group.

    Education unionist elected onto ILO’s governing body
  5. Opinion 12 June 2017

    Public education needs public investment, not private profit

    By Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham  It is nearly nine years since Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in the USA and triggered the banking crisis that has blighted the world economy ever since. The company held over $600 billion in assets and it remains the largest bankruptcy in US history.

    Public education needs public investment, not private profit
  6. Opinion 5 June 2017

    The CETA’s “Investment Court System”: A Supreme Tribunal to Protect the Wealth of Foreign Nationals

    Gus Van Harten

    Imagine if governments proposed a supreme tribunal for the world. The tribunal would have the power to review anything countries can do in their sovereign role. It could review countries’ laws and regulations at any level. It could review the judgments of their highest courts.

    The CETA’s “Investment Court System”: A Supreme Tribunal to Protect the Wealth of Foreign Nationals
  7. Opinion 29 May 2017

    Pearson and the Neo-Liberal Global Assault on Public Education

    By Alan Singer ([email protected]) Powerful forces are at work shaping global education in both the North Atlantic core capitalist nations and regions historically referred to as the Third World. Neoliberal business philosophies and practices promoted by corporations and their partner foundations, supported by international organizations, financiers, and bankers, and welcomed,...

    Pearson and the Neo-Liberal Global Assault on Public Education
  8. News 22 May 2017

    EI research reinforces advocacy against growing privatisation of public education

    In the framework of its Global Response to the privatisation of education, Education International has published documents exploring privatisation and its impact on access to education, quality education, and teachers’ conditions of employment.

    EI research reinforces advocacy against growing privatisation of public education
  9. Opinion 5 May 2017

    Big Data or Small Data: What’s the key to unlocking learning opportunities?

    Pasi Sahlberg

    Some say that schools don’t change. Many things may have remained the same but one thing is new: data. Today the walls of principals’ offices display performance results and data walls in teachers’ lounges highlight whether students have accomplished their learning targets. Data has become hot currency in school reforms.

    Big Data or Small Data: What’s the key to unlocking learning opportunities?
  10. News 3 May 2017

    Putting teachers at the heart of education systems the focus in Rotterdam

    The message on day one of the Unite for Quality Education and Leadership Conference was clear, with educators looking at making sure that teachers themselves are the architects of the profession and of education systems.

    Putting teachers at the heart of education systems the focus in Rotterdam
  11. News 2 May 2017

    Education communicators come together in The Netherlands

    Held on the eve of the Unite for Quality Education and Leadership Conference in Rotterdam, communication leaders from EI affiliates gathered to exchange ideas and share updates on campaigns and initiatives underway around the world.

    Education communicators come together in The Netherlands
  12. News 1 May 2017

    This May Day, why not try solidarity?

    As the occasion to celebrate and reaffirm the value and values of trade unions, from which their principles continue to inspire, today must also serve as a lens to carefully examine our societies and institutions.

    This May Day, why not try solidarity?
  13. Opinion 28 April 2017

    Education: A Choice or a Right?

    by Frank Adamson, PhD The United Nations has identified “free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education” by 2030 as a goal for sustainable development. This goal reaffirms the right to education guaranteed by countries in multiple U.N. declarations over the last half-century.[i] Although these treaties reflect a general consensus...

    Education: A Choice or a Right?
  14. News 21 April 2017

    Unions ask World Bank to turn its back to edubusinesses

    Trade unions from all over the world are protesting against the support the World Bank is offering to for-profit education providers like Bridge International Academies.

    Unions ask World Bank to turn its back to edubusinesses