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 2 November 2016

    Despite promises, Pearson's prospects for growth remain slim at best

    By Dr Anna Hogan, University of Queensland, Australia A dramatic stock decline and profit far below expected levels are a blow to the education corporate giant's development plan, and a symptom that it has become a toxic brand in the eyes of many.

    Despite promises, Pearson's prospects for growth remain slim at best
  2. News 2 November 2016

    Education unionists deeply concerned about CETA signature

    Education International, together with international institutions, is worried about the effects on public services, including education, and limitations to public policy space after the signature of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

    Education unionists deeply concerned about CETA signature
  3. Opinion 25 October 2016

    We must put an end to schooling students for profit

    By Fred van Leeuwen. General Secretary, Education International For World Teachers’ Day this year the education community is marking the 50th anniversary of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation on the teaching profession. This landmark document identifies “the essential role of teachers in educational advancement and the importance of their contribution to the...

    We must put an end to schooling students for profit
  4. News 14 October 2016

    Global unions demand that TiSA negotiations be stopped

    Following the release of new leaked documents exposing the details of the secret Trade in Services Agreement, six global union federations are calling for all talks to be brought to a halt.

    Global unions demand that TiSA negotiations be stopped
  5. Opinion 12 October 2016

    Philantrocapitalism: the new tyranny of giving

    By Antonio OImedo, University of Roehampton & Stephen Ball, UCL In 2008, in their Ode to philanthrocapitalism, Bishop and Green claimed that philanthrocapitalists are “hyperagents who have the capacity to do some essential things far better than anyone else”. Apparently, the fact that they “do not face elections every few...

    Philantrocapitalism: the new tyranny of giving
  6. Opinion 10 October 2016

    When Private Corporate Interests into Public Education Do Not Go: the case of Bridge

    By Susan Robertson, University of Cambridge In November 2015, I was asked to give the annual lecture in the UK Parliament in honour of the fierce campaigner for comprehensive education - Caroline Benn. Benn was well known for her work on challenging the deeply divided education system in the UK...

    When Private Corporate Interests into Public Education Do Not Go: the case of Bridge
  7. News 10 October 2016

    Ireland: Union launches charter against casualisation of teaching

    The Irish Federation of University Teachers has launched a Charter for casual workers in University College Cork, providing a code of practice for members to support and defend casual and precarious workers within the university.

    Ireland: Union launches charter against casualisation of teaching
  8. News 5 October 2016

    Ugandan teachers unite for their public school system

    On World Teachers’ Day, and in the face of the privatisation of their school system, educators from Uganda have gathered for an event attended by the thousands to demand quality education for all.

    Ugandan teachers unite for their public school system
  9. Opinion 15 September 2016

    Don’t Play with Our Future: How Education as Competition Fails the Public

    By Frank Adamson, The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education In Unleashing Greatness: Nine Plays to Spark Innovation in Education , the authors invoke the metaphor of the sports “playbook,” promoting an agenda of competition throughout their recommendations. Unfortunately, competition produces both winners and losers. The Yankees can improve...

    Don’t Play with Our Future: How Education as Competition Fails the Public
  10. Opinion 15 September 2016

    Don’t Play with Our Future: How Education as Competition Fails the Public

    By Frank Adamson, The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education In Unleashing Greatness: Nine Plays to Spark Innovation in Education , the authors invoke the metaphor of the sports “playbook,” promoting an agenda of competition throughout their recommendations. Unfortunately, competition produces both winners and losers. The Yankees can improve...

    Don’t Play with Our Future: How Education as Competition Fails the Public
  11. Opinion 9 September 2016

    Beware False Profits of Easy Learning

    By Stephen Dinham, University of Melbourne, Australia Television shopping channels and online selling are dominated by products that promise much. Lose weight with a miracle diet, get a perfect body with only a few minutes of daily exercise using some piece of equipment, clean your bathroom in seconds, vacuum the...

    Beware False Profits of Easy Learning
  12. Opinion 19 August 2016

    South Africa: The Size and Shape of Private Education

    By Salim Vally, University of Johannesburg Twenty two years since the first democratic elections in South Africa, the combined weight of apartheid’s legacy exacerbated by neo-liberal policies over the past two decades has meant that the promise of a quality public education system remains a chimera. While a mélange of...

    South Africa: The Size and Shape of Private Education
  13. News 19 August 2016

    Uganda: Education Minister closes non-compliant private schools

    Uganda’s government has announced the closure of non-compliant private schools - a bold stand for quality education, according to the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU), an affiliate of Education International (EI).

    Uganda: Education Minister closes non-compliant private schools
  14. News 10 August 2016

    Ugandan parliament orders Bridge Academy schools closed

    In a sweeping move, the for-profit school chain has been told to lock its doors after parliament demanded it halt operations in response to its failure to meet educational and infrastructure standards.

    Ugandan parliament orders Bridge Academy schools closed
  15. Opinion 3 August 2016

    Don’t Believe What it Says on the Can: Another Formula to ‘Reform’ Education

    By Stephen Dinham,University of Melbourne, Australia Yet another report has been released promising a plan to transform education. The latest, this time from Michael Barber and Joel Klein, two well-known players in the ‘global education reform movement’ (Sahlberg, 2014), is positioned as a white paper or as they call it,...

    Don’t Believe What it Says on the Can: Another Formula to ‘Reform’ Education