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 13 November 2018

    Elsevier: putting a price on knowledge

    In its most recent publication, Education International examines the publishing giant Elsevier, whose success on the market is based on ethically questionable practices which endanger the transmission of knowledge and its condition as a public good.

    Elsevier: putting a price on knowledge
  2. News 12 November 2018

    EI 11th Further and Higher Education and Research Conference: Advancing conditions for staff to improve quality education

    The first day of the 11th Education International’s Further and Higher Education and Research Conference has provided member organisations with a forum for exchanging information and strategies across regions for the advancement of quality terms and conditions of employment for teachers, academics and researchers, and addressed technical and vocational education...

    EI 11th Further and Higher Education and Research Conference: Advancing conditions for staff to improve quality education
  3. Opinion 12 November 2018

    TVET, capabilities and social justice, by Leesa Wheelahan

    Leesa Wheelahan

    What is technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and what does it do? This can be a hard question to answer because there isn’t a lot of agreement about what it does, what it should do, who should pay for it, how it should be offered, and whether it...

    TVET, capabilities and social justice, by Leesa Wheelahan
  4. Opinion 12 November 2018

    Elsevier are placing the future of scholarly research at risk

    By Jon Tennant, @IGDOREinstitute and @OpenScienceMOOC It is difficult to argue against the positions that research knowledge should be a public good, and can also be of incredible use in fighting against some of the larger problems that face our planet and society, such as energy, food and water security,...

    Elsevier are placing the future of scholarly research at risk
  5. Opinion 9 November 2018

    If you don’t fight, you lose!

    By Angelo Gavrielatos, Education International  Privatisation remains one of the greatest threat to the achievement of quality, free, universally accessible public education for all. And, noting what is at stake, the struggle against privatisation is one of the noblest causes that any teacher unionist can be part of. That struggle...

    If you don’t fight, you lose!
  6. Opinion 17 October 2018

    Research and the economy of knowledge

    By Raewyn Connell The business of modern universities is research as well as teaching. That was not always true. When the university curriculum was based mostly on ancient texts, new knowledge was not necessarily welcome. In fact it might be dangerous!

    Research and the economy of knowledge
  7. Publications and Research

    Democratising knowledge: a report on the scholarly publisher, Elsevier

    Dr. Jonathan Tennant
    16 October 2018

    Elsevier are the largest and most powerful scholarly publisher, a status achieved through a long history of mergers and acquisitions and rigorously capitalistic business practices. The core issues surrounding Elsevier are that it operates its business primarily through charging for what should be public knowledge and education, with aggressive pricing...

    Democratising knowledge: a report on the scholarly publisher, Elsevier
    1. Report
    2. Advocacy document
  8. News 5 October 2018

    US educators fight over student debt and loan fraud

    American Federation of Teachers’ members have filed a class-action lawsuit against the student loan servicer Navient for misleading borrowers and called for immediate action.

    US educators fight over student debt and loan fraud
  9. Opinion 3 October 2018

    “The Global Status of teachers and the Teaching Profession”, by David Edwards

    David Edwards

    World Teachers Day is an ideal moment to reflect on the status of the world’s teachers. Today, Education International will release its triennial report on this very issue. Education is at the centre of improvements to living standards and quality of life, yet we now increasingly face pressures and threats...

    “The Global Status of teachers and the Teaching Profession”, by David Edwards
  10. Opinion 26 September 2018

    Argentina, profit now guides education policy making

    By Susan Robertson, University of Cambridge  Over the past two decades, education systems around the world have been faced with nothing short of a revolution in how they are to be governed. This revolution, of course, is the ongoing effort by ideologically-interested governments, multilateral institutions like The World Bank, corporations...

    Argentina, profit now guides education policy making
  11. Publications and Research

    The privatisation of education in Argentina

    by Myriam Feldfeber, Adriana Puiggrós, Susan Robertson and Miguel Duhalde
    25 September 2018

    The research provides an overview of the processes driving the privatisation of education and their impact on quality and equity in Argentina’s public education system. The research project is a joint endeavour between a team of academics and researchers including Argentinian researchers Myriam Feldfeber and Adriana Puiggros and Cambridge University...

    The privatisation of education in Argentina
    1. Report (in Spanish)
    2. Summary
  12. News 24 September 2018

    Francophone education unions, the driving force of democracy, the guardians of public education and union solidarity

    At the 16th Meeting of the Comité Syndical Francophone de l’Education et de la Formation (Francophone Trade Union Committee for Education and Training), the Education International General Secretary, David Edwards, called on all French-speaking affiliates to defend democracy, human rights and trade union rights, to fight privatisation, and to strive...

    Francophone education unions, the driving force of democracy, the guardians of public education and union solidarity
  13. Opinion 20 September 2018

    Ivory tower and market, curriculum in the market world

    By Raewyn Connell All educational issues that matter, come to a head in curriculum. That is familiar in schools, where the struggle to democratise an elitist curriculum has been at the centre of school reform for the last century.

    Ivory tower and market, curriculum in the market world
  14. Opinion 11 September 2018

    Ivory tower and market, the walls around Universities

    By Raewyn Connell Who gets to university? Two hundred years ago, this question was easy to answer. It was young men of the privileged classes, especially those destined for learned professions such as Law or the Church. In colonial universities, for instance in India, this could include young men from...

    Ivory tower and market, the walls around Universities
  15. News 4 September 2018

    Ghana: Unions denounce plans to give tax money to for profit education companies

    "Given the scarcity of resources, it is deplorable that the Education Outcome Fund (EOF) for Africa and Middle East intends to transfer tax-payer funds intended for the well-being of children to private investors who seek to profit from education."

    Ghana: Unions denounce plans to give tax money to for profit education companies