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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. News 18 April 2017

    Latin America spearheads the global privatisation of education

    A new report shows that in recent decades Latin America has been the region with the steadiest growth in the privatisation of education, albeit in quite different ways.

    Latin America spearheads the global privatisation of education
  2. Opinion 15 April 2017

    Fast policy: reform first and ask questions later?

    By Anna Hogan and Steven Lewis Education is increasingly positioned as a problem in need of fixing. And, with the rise of new governance trends, and associated demands for increased accountability and transparency in public policymaking, the solutions to these problems must now be informed by ‘evidence’.

    Fast policy: reform first and ask questions later?
  3. Research

    Investing in the crisis: Private participation in the education of Syrian refugees

    Francine Menashy, Zeena Zakharia
    14 April 2017

    While education in emergencies has risen as a policy priority in the mandates of international organizations (Menashy and Dryden-Peterson, 2015), the share of total overseas development assistance to education has declined sharply in recent years, with funding persistently low in conflict-affected states (UNESCO, 2015; 2016).

    Investing in the crisis: Private participation in the education of Syrian refugees
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  4. Opinion 13 April 2017

    The expansion of private schooling in Latin America: A regional phenomenon with multiple causes and faces

    By Antoni Verger, Mauro Moschetti and Clara Fontdevila Latin America is the world region where education privatization has experienced the greatest and most consistent growth over the last two decades. The region exhibits not only the highest rate of private enrolment in primary education, but also an exceptionally steady rise...

    The expansion of private schooling in Latin America: A regional phenomenon with multiple causes and faces
  5. News 12 April 2017

    The Syrian refugee crisis is promoting a surge in privatisation

    The interplay between crisis and private profit in the education sector is highlighted in a new study that focuses on the refugee crisis in Syria and the access to education of almost one million displaced children.

    The Syrian refugee crisis is promoting a surge in privatisation
  6. Research

    Education and training policy in the European Semester - public investment, public policy, social dialogue and privatisation patterns across Europe

    9 April 2017

    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.

    Education and training policy in the European Semester - public investment, public policy, social dialogue and privatisation patterns across Europe
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  7. News 6 April 2017

    Kenya: Whistleblower union receives support after threats

    Education International’s Executive Board stands in solidarity with the Kenyan National Union of Teachers, which is the subject of threats and attempted intimidation for questioning Bridge International Academies’ operations.

    Kenya: Whistleblower union receives support after threats
  8. Opinion 5 April 2017

    ‘May’ Days in March: Bridge Asked to Account by UK Parliament

    By Susan L. Robertson, University of Cambridge It is not often a US-based private education contractor for the delivery of services gets asked to appear as a witness to give evidence to a UK Government International Development Committee hearing in the House of Commons, London.

    ‘May’ Days in March: Bridge Asked to Account by UK Parliament
  9. Opinion 29 March 2017

    To Africa and back: Low-fee for-profit schools in England

    By Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham Low-fee for-profit schools have become increasingly common in many parts of the developing world. Now one of the figures most closely associated with the growth of this movement, Professor James Tooley, is bringing the idea back home. He is currently seeking government approval to...

    To Africa and back: Low-fee for-profit schools in England
  10. Opinion 22 March 2017

    US & Mexico: building walls, sharing Neoliberal Education Policies

    The long read: By Carol Anne Spreen (with assistance from Carrie Anne Coleman), New York University Last month nearly 1000 educators, politicians, academics and union representatives gathered in Toluca, Mexico to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the right to education enshrined in Mexico’s Constitution. Despite this recognition, the right to...

    US & Mexico: building walls, sharing Neoliberal Education Policies
  11. Opinion 17 March 2017

    Keeping Our Responsibility to All Children

    On the occasion of GESF , Angelo Gavrielatos reminds us of our responsibility to provide free quality education for all children. Follow @AGavrielatos  to stay infomed on the debate,"This House Would Ban Low-Cost Private Schools in the Developing World" happening at 11.30 (UTC+4), 18/3/17. By Angelo Gavrielatos, Education International

    Keeping Our Responsibility to All Children
  12. News 17 March 2017

    Kenya: education privatiser wants to silence biggest critic

    In an attempt to silence Kenyan teacher union leader Wilson Sossion, Bridge International Academies have threatened him with legal action for exposing its activities undermining the attainment of inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

    Kenya: education privatiser wants to silence biggest critic
  13. News 14 March 2017

    Nepali teachers develop united front in the face of growing privatisation

    Confronted by a lack of political will to reinforce children’s right to education, Nepal’s education leaders are joining Education International’s Global Response campaign to take collective action to turn the tide of privatisation.

    Nepali teachers develop united front in the face of growing privatisation
  14. News 9 March 2017

    Atlanta: Privatisation highlighted at CIES conference

    Education International’s research work related to its Global Response campaign on the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education was showcased at this year’s Comparative International Education Society (CIES) conference.

    Atlanta: Privatisation highlighted at CIES conference