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. News 29 July 2016

    Uganda: School closures a major blow to for-profit chain

    Bridge International Academies appears to be losing its foothold in Uganda following a government decision to close 87 for-profit primary schools, including those belonging to Bridge, after failing to comply with minimum standards and regulations.

    Uganda: School closures a major blow to for-profit chain
  2. News 25 July 2016

    India: government called out for its failure to ensure the right to education

    A new Education International report on edu-businesses operating in Hyderabad and Delhi, India has unveiled education inequities in the system while uniting politicians, unions, as well as parents and teachers around a common cause.

    India: government called out for its failure to ensure the right to education
  3. Opinion 18 July 2016

    Privatisation Undermines the Right to Education in India

    By Carol Anne Spreen, New York University & Sangeeta Kamat, University of Massachusettes, Amherst Private for-profit multinational corporations are making billions of dollars by charging poor families around the world to send their children to school. At the same time, governments have been shirking their obligations to provide quality public...

    Privatisation Undermines the Right to Education in India
  4. News 13 July 2016

    Students' and teachers’ unions call for education to be carved out from global trade agreements

    Education International (EI) and the European Students' Union (ESU) urge governments in Europe, the United States, and beyond, to explicitly carve out education from global trade agreements such as the TTIP, the Trade in Services Agreement and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

    Students' and teachers’ unions call for education to be carved out from global trade agreements
  5. Opinion 13 July 2016

    Safeguarding Education against its Commercialisation

    by Kishore Singh, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education Education is a fundamental human right for every child and its provision is a core public function of the State. However, education as a public function of the State is being eroded by market-driven approaches and the rapid...

    Safeguarding Education against its Commercialisation
  6. News 8 July 2016

    Leading UN human rights body puts students before profit

    A benchmark UN Human Rights Council resolution has made clear that public education is an essential fabric of society and urges governments that increased investment is needed to guarantee that it remains a public good.

    Leading UN human rights body puts students before profit
  7. News 22 June 2016

    Public Service Day celebrated as momentum to oppose trade deals grows

    As unions and civil society take a moment to mark Public Services Day the the on-going global campaign against international trade agreements that undermine the provision of public services everywhere continues to gain traction.

    Public Service Day celebrated as momentum to oppose trade deals grows
  8. News 21 June 2016

    Teacher refuses Pearson award

    A teacher at Hackney College, UK, has refused to accept the Silver award for Lecturer of the year, in opposition to the involvement of the private sector in education.

    Teacher refuses Pearson award
  9. Opinion 17 June 2016

    Bridge International Academies adds fear and intimidation to its business strategy

    By Angelo Gavrielatos, Project Director Global Response, Education International The flailing reputation of the Pearson-backed ‘edu-business’ has fallen to a new low after it was caught spreading false accusations to have a Canadian academic researcher jailed while studying its Ugandan operations.

    Bridge International Academies adds fear and intimidation to its business strategy
  10. Opinion 10 June 2016

    UN says UK aid to commercial private schools could violate children's rights

    PRESS RELEASE (London, 10 June 2016) In an unprecedented statement  made public on 9 June 2016, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC ) expressed concerns about the UK “funding of low-fee, private and informal schools run by for-profit business enterprises” through its development aid as...

    UN says UK aid to commercial private schools could violate children's rights
  11. Opinion 10 June 2016

    Learning to live together

    Education unions and the defence of democratic societies Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938

    Learning to live together
  12. News 7 June 2016

    The education bridge to nowhere

    For-profit education provider Bridge International Academies revealed its true colours after orchestrating the arrest of a Canadian researcher investigating its operations in Uganda, a country where the company’s expansion plans were recently put on hold.

    The education bridge to nowhere
  13. News 1 June 2016

    Teachers’ unions: carve education out of TiSA

    With the Trade in Services negotiations accelerating, teachers’ unions are urging their governments to demand a democratic negotiation process and the carving out of education and other public services from the agreement.

    Teachers’ unions: carve education out of TiSA
  14. Opinion 30 May 2016

    England rushes forward with school privatisation agenda – but outcomes far from certain

    By Howard Stevenson, University of Nottingham, UK Earlier this year the UK government published its plans for school reform in England in a White Paper – Educational Excellence Everywhere (DfE, 2016). Within the UK education policy is a matter for individual nations and so policy paths differ significantly across England,...

    England rushes forward with school privatisation agenda – but outcomes far from certain
  15. Opinion 24 May 2016

    When myths of education become reality

    By Stephen Dinham, University of Melbourne, Australia. Just over 20 years ago David Berliner and Bruce Biddle published The Manufactured Crisis - Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America's Public Schools. In this they cited the ‘sweeping claims attacking the conduct and achievement of America’s public schools - claims that...

    When myths of education become reality
  16. News 18 May 2016

    East African unions unite against scourge of education privatisation

    Leaders of Education International affiliate organisations in East Africa gathered in Kampala, Uganda, to coordinate their response to the growing commercialisation and privatisation of education spreading across the continent.

    East African unions unite against scourge of education privatisation