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 3 March 2017

    Market Obscurantism

    By Jim Baker, Education International Adam Smith and generations of free market, liberal, or classical economists who followed him saw the market as an efficient, workable way for the economy to function. It was based on self-interest. Smith argued, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer,...

    Market Obscurantism
  2. Opinion 28 February 2017

    South Africa: The Bait and Switch of School Privatisation

    By Salim Vally, University of Johannesburg The Economist’s recent editorial on South Africa’s schooling system recycles tired arguments but more insidiously, its shallow causal narrative feeds into proposals for the privatisation of education. In essence, it is a classic bait-and-switch maneuver applied to schooling.

    South Africa: The Bait and Switch of School Privatisation
  3. News 22 February 2017

    Kenya: Blow to Bridge International Academies

    Ten schools owned by the edubusiness Bridge International Academies will have to close in Kenya because of low educational standards.

    Kenya: Blow to Bridge International Academies
  4. Opinion 20 February 2017

    There is no such thing as society

    By Jim Baker, Education International In 1987, Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying: “—There is no such thing as society.”

    There is no such thing as society
  5. Opinion 20 February 2017

    There is no such thing as society

    By Jim Baker, Education International In 1987, Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying: “—There is no such thing as society.”

    There is no such thing as society
  6. News 17 February 2017

    Europe: Educators to continue fight against CETA

    After the European Parliament voted in favour of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, educators will continue to fight this treaty that threatens to erode public education.

    Europe: Educators to continue fight against CETA
  7. News 9 February 2017

    Mexico celebrates 100 years of education as a public right

    The SNTE, Education International’s Mexican affiliate, spared no detail to celebrate 100 years of education as a right for all citizens, at the centennial anniversary of the adoption of its national constitution.

    Mexico celebrates 100 years of education as a public right
  8. Opinion 1 February 2017

    The teacher of the future: robots versus humans

    By Angelo Gavrielatos, Education International  At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a side event featured a debate on the future of the teaching profession. The topic was: The teacher of the future: robots vs. humans. EI’s response delivered by Angelo Gavrielatos.

    The teacher of the future: robots versus humans
  9. Opinion 1 February 2017

    The teacher of the future: robots versus humans

    By Angelo Gavrielatos, Education International  At this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a side event featured a debate on the future of the teaching profession. The topic was: The teacher of the future: robots vs. humans. EI’s response delivered by Angelo Gavrielatos.

    The teacher of the future: robots versus humans
  10. News 24 January 2017

    Education World Forum’s top sponsor far from the ‘gold’ standard

    The annual closed door meeting of education ministers and government officials is attracting heavy criticism after choosing Bridge International Academies as its top sponsor, a decision protested by global education unions and civil society groups.

    Education World Forum’s top sponsor far from the ‘gold’ standard
  11. Opinion 23 January 2017

    Profiting from public education’s digital nervous system

    By Sam Sellar, Manchester Metropolitan University While 2016 was a tumultuous year in global politics, it also came with a number of surprises in the world of technology. Google’s AlphaGo triumphed over professional Go player, Lee Sedol, signaling a major advance in the development of artificial intelligence. Facebook found itself...

    Profiting from public education’s digital nervous system
  12. Opinion 23 January 2017

    Profiting from public education’s digital nervous system

    By Sam Sellar, Manchester Metropolitan University While 2016 was a tumultuous year in global politics, it also came with a number of surprises in the world of technology. Google’s AlphaGo triumphed over professional Go player, Lee Sedol, signaling a major advance in the development of artificial intelligence. Facebook found itself...

    Profiting from public education’s digital nervous system
  13. News 20 January 2017

    State-of-the-art research frames global response to privatisation

    Prominent scholars, analysts and trade union leaders are convening in Brussels to lay out the mechanisms, strategies and trends in the privatisation of education – with the aim of turning research into successful action.

    State-of-the-art research frames global response to privatisation
  14. News 13 January 2017

    Facing up to the WTO summit, the Peoples’ Summit

    The CTERA, the trade union confederation and affiliate of Educational International in Argentina, raised its voice against the commodification and privatisation of education at the ‘Peoples’ Summit’, which took place in Buenos Aires.

    Facing up to the WTO summit, the Peoples’ Summit
  15. Opinion 10 January 2017

    Schooling, privatisation and post-truth politics

    By Bob Lingard, University of Queensland Usually each New Year begins with optimistic hopes for something better than what has gone before. Sadly and worryingly, 2017 seems ominous in negative ways rather than inspiring a sense of hope.

    Schooling, privatisation and post-truth politics
  16. Publications and Research

    Bridge vs. Reality: a study of Bridge International Academies’ for-profit schooling in Kenya

    by Education International and Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT)
    22 December 2016

    Bridge International Academies (BIA) is a large and expanding business that provides for-profit private education in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and India. With support and investment coming from global edubusiness Pearson, the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and high profile actors such as Mark Zuckerberg and the...

    Bridge vs. Reality: a study of Bridge International Academies’ for-profit schooling in Kenya
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