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 16 September 2011

    UNCTAD criticizes austerity measures

    In its annual trade report released in September, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development sharply criticised those developed countries that have adopted austerity measures.

    UNCTAD criticizes austerity measures
  2. News 12 September 2011

    Global Unions urge the IMF and World Bank to prioritise employment

    EI has endorsed the Global Unions statement for the 2011 annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, to be held in Washington, USA, from 25-26 September.

    Global Unions urge the IMF and World Bank to prioritise employment
  3. News 5 July 2011

    Chile: Thousands march to demand investment in education

    Police attacked the demonstrators with tear gas and water cannon. The students are demanding an increase in the proportion of GDP which is spent on education from four per cent to seven per cent. The demonstrators are also calling for the state to take back control of public schools from...

    Chile: Thousands march to demand investment in education
  4. Publications and Research

    Impacts of IMF policies on national education budgets and teachers

    Rick Rowden
    23 June 2011

    This Education International Research Institute report provides a critical review of how current IMF macroeconomic policy conditions and advice impact on the ability of borrowing countries to finance national education budgets, wages for public sector teachers, and how such policies affect the ability of governments to achieve the progressive realization...

    Impacts of IMF policies on national education budgets and teachers
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  5. News 16 June 2011

    USA: Education union vows to back Obama to defend education

    With the United States presidential elections a little over a year away, EI’s largest U.S. affiliate, the National Education Association (NEA), has set out proposals for a strategy to invest $60 million into a campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama.

    USA: Education union vows to back Obama to defend education
  6. News 28 April 2011

    EI insists on education services being excluded from trade agreements

    Teacher unionists are deeply involved in the make or break talks being held this week in Geneva, Switzerland, in what many see as the last attempt to rescue the troubled Doha Round of international trade negotiations.

    EI insists on education services being excluded from trade agreements
  7. 25 March 2011

    G20 fails to address fundamentals – including investment in education

    The G20 Summit held in Seoul, Korea, on 11-12 November was marked by growing tensions between the world’s two biggest economies – the United States and China – and a failure to address fundamental issues required for sustainable growth and prosperity – including investment in education.

    G20 fails to address fundamentals – including investment in education
  8. News 10 March 2011

    WTO Talks Falter in Face of New Deadline

    Talks aimed at liberalizing the global trade in goods, agricultural products and services are once again in trouble as negotiators have been unable to bridge their differences despite an intensive week-long push to reach a solution.

    WTO Talks Falter in Face of New Deadline
  9. News 10 March 2011

    Progress cited in domestic regulation talks

    While overall negotiations remain stalled, officials cited some progress in other aspects of the Doha Round, including controversial talks aimed at developing new legally-binding disciplines for domestic regulations that may affect trade.

    Progress cited in domestic regulation talks
  10. News 10 March 2011

    Is there a future for Doha?

    While acknowledging that the end of year deadline to conclude the talks is extremely tight, Mexican Ambassador de Mateo was somewhat optimistic that a conclusion this year would be possible.

    Is there a future for Doha?
  11. News 4 January 2011

    Unaccountable ‘free schools’ are not wanted say teachers

    A survey of British parents conducted by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), an EI affiliate, has found that a majority of new ‘free schools’ being opened in England are not wanted or needed.

    Unaccountable ‘free schools’ are not wanted say teachers
  12. News 28 October 2010

    ACTA: Deal or no deal?

    What’s been described as a near final draft of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) was released in October amidst confusion over whether a deal had in fact been reached.

    ACTA: Deal or no deal?
  13. News 28 October 2010

    EU and Malaysia launch free trade talks

    The launch of negotiations follows an impasse in talks between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that began in 2007.

    EU and Malaysia launch free trade talks
  14. News 28 October 2010

    South Africa to support EU trade partnership

    In an apparent about-turn, South African officials now say they are prepared to conclude an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the European Union and the five-nation South African Customs Union (SACU) by the year’s end.

    South Africa to support EU trade partnership
  15. News 28 October 2010

    Study warns of environmental impact from Canada-EU trade pact

    A report released the end of August cautions a comprehensive free trade deal between Canada and the European Union could lead to rising greenhouse gas emissions, privatization of water services, and disruptions to "First Nations" communities.

    Study warns of environmental impact from Canada-EU trade pact
  16. News 20 July 2010

    Developing countries denounce ACTA

    Opposition to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in the developing world is mounting, with India and China formally raising complaints last month at the World Trade Organization.

    Developing countries denounce ACTA