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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 14 May 2014

    Education and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

    During the fourth round of negotiations it became evident that education is being targeted in the trade deal. The US chief negotiator, Dan Mullaney, said the US is aiming to expand access of US for-profit companies to all European service sectors including higher, adult and other education services. At the...

    Education and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
  2. News 6 May 2014

    New ETUCE Webpage on TTIP

    ETUCE launched a new webpage where you can find information on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. What is the TTIP?, What does it cover?, Will Education be covered? Find all the answers to these questions here.

    New ETUCE Webpage on TTIP
  3. News 14 March 2014

    European teachers and students raise concerns with US-EU trade partnership

    Organisations representing teachers and students from across Europe are expressing concern about the potential impact of a proposed EU-US free trade deal. Negotiators from the European Union and the United States met in Brussels this week to continue controversial talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The goal...

    European teachers and students raise concerns with US-EU trade partnership
  4. News 25 February 2014

    TTIP entering "heart of negotiations"

    On 17-18 February, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman met for a political stocktaking exercise in Washington, D.C. on the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

    TTIP entering "heart of negotiations"
  5. News 10 December 2013

    EI: Education is not a tradable commodity

    EI has joined the international trade union movement in criticizing a new agreement on global trade rules that is unbalanced and threatens to put new pressures on public services like health care and education.

    EI: Education is not a tradable commodity
  6. News 21 August 2013

    TISA, a threat to free quality public education

    EI has sent out a briefing note on the Trade in International Services Agreement (TISA) to its affiliates, informing them about these trade negotiations that threaten to liberalise public services like healthcare and education.

    TISA, a threat to free quality public education
  7. News 5 July 2013

    Negotiations begin on new services deal

    Trade talks aimed at developing a new global services pact have begun following an agreement on a negotiating framework earlier this year.

    Negotiations begin on new services deal
  8. News 5 July 2013

    Brazilian ambassador to take WTO helm

    Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) have formally appointed Brazil’s Roberto Carvalho de Azevêdo as the group’s next director general, capping a six-month leadership contest.

    Brazilian ambassador to take WTO helm
  9. News 5 July 2013

    EU ministers seek cultural protections in talks with U.S.

    A group of 14 cultural ministers of the European Union are demanding that audio-visual services be excluded as a “cultural exemption” from planned free trade talks with the United States.

    EU ministers seek cultural protections in talks with U.S.
  10. News 18 February 2013

    Canada: Teachers’ guide to copyright released

    The Canadian Teachers’ Federation (CTF), one of EI’s national affiliates, has released the third edition of ‘Copyright Matters! Some Key Questions and Answers for Teachers’. The publication takes into account key changes that have occurred in the area of copyright since the previous edition, published in 2005.

    Canada: Teachers’ guide to copyright released
  11. News 3 December 2012

    Concerns raised over TPP proposals on copyright

    A number of groups are warning that a potential new trade deal could force countries across the Pacific region to impose new restrictions on copyright.

    Concerns raised over TPP proposals on copyright
  12. News 3 December 2012

    Europe and the United States eye free trade pact

    The European Union and the United States are set to launch talks early next year that officials say will create a trading bloc representing about half of the world’s economic output and nearly a third of global trade.

    Europe and the United States eye free trade pact
  13. News 3 December 2012

    Negotiators press ahead with new services liberalisation agreement

    With World Trade Organisation negotiations stuck in neutral, a group of key WTO countries has launched a separate set of talks aimed at creating an International Services Agreement (ISA).

    Negotiators press ahead with new services liberalisation agreement
  14. News 3 December 2012

    Negotiators press ahead with new services liberalisation agreement

    With World Trade Organisation negotiations stuck in neutral, a group of key WTO countries has launched a separate set of talks aimed at creating an International Services Agreement (ISA).

    Negotiators press ahead with new services liberalisation agreement
  15. 3 December 2012

    Negotiators press ahead with new services liberalisation agreement

    With World Trade Organisation negotiations stuck in neutral, a group of key WTO countries has launched a separate set of talks aimed at creating an International Services Agreement (ISA).

    Negotiators press ahead with new services liberalisation agreement