Ei-iE

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 18 April 2017

    Latin America spearheads the global privatisation of education

    A new report shows that in recent decades Latin America has been the region with the steadiest growth in the privatisation of education, albeit in quite different ways.

    Latin America spearheads the global privatisation of education
  2. Publications and Research

    Investing in the crisis: Private participation in the education of Syrian refugees

    Francine Menashy, Zeena Zakharia
    14 April 2017

    While education in emergencies has risen as a policy priority in the mandates of international organizations (Menashy and Dryden-Peterson, 2015), the share of total overseas development assistance to education has declined sharply in recent years, with funding persistently low in conflict-affected states (UNESCO, 2015; 2016).

    Investing in the crisis: Private participation in the education of Syrian refugees
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  3. News 12 April 2017

    The Syrian refugee crisis is promoting a surge in privatisation

    The interplay between crisis and private profit in the education sector is highlighted in a new study that focuses on the refugee crisis in Syria and the access to education of almost one million displaced children.

    The Syrian refugee crisis is promoting a surge in privatisation
  4. News 6 April 2017

    Kenya: Whistleblower union receives support after threats

    Education International’s Executive Board stands in solidarity with the Kenyan National Union of Teachers, which is the subject of threats and attempted intimidation for questioning Bridge International Academies’ operations.

    Kenya: Whistleblower union receives support after threats
  5. News 17 March 2017

    Kenya: education privatiser wants to silence biggest critic

    In an attempt to silence Kenyan teacher union leader Wilson Sossion, Bridge International Academies have threatened him with legal action for exposing its activities undermining the attainment of inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

    Kenya: education privatiser wants to silence biggest critic
  6. News 14 March 2017

    Nepali teachers develop united front in the face of growing privatisation

    Confronted by a lack of political will to reinforce children’s right to education, Nepal’s education leaders are joining Education International’s Global Response campaign to take collective action to turn the tide of privatisation.

    Nepali teachers develop united front in the face of growing privatisation
  7. News 9 March 2017

    Atlanta: Privatisation highlighted at CIES conference

    Education International’s research work related to its Global Response campaign on the privatisation and commercialisation in and of education was showcased at this year’s Comparative International Education Society (CIES) conference.

    Atlanta: Privatisation highlighted at CIES conference
  8. News 22 February 2017

    Kenya: Blow to Bridge International Academies

    Ten schools owned by the edubusiness Bridge International Academies will have to close in Kenya because of low educational standards.

    Kenya: Blow to Bridge International Academies
  9. News 17 February 2017

    Europe: Educators to continue fight against CETA

    After the European Parliament voted in favour of the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, educators will continue to fight this treaty that threatens to erode public education.

    Europe: Educators to continue fight against CETA
  10. News 9 February 2017

    Mexico celebrates 100 years of education as a public right

    The SNTE, Education International’s Mexican affiliate, spared no detail to celebrate 100 years of education as a right for all citizens, at the centennial anniversary of the adoption of its national constitution.

    Mexico celebrates 100 years of education as a public right
  11. News 24 January 2017

    Education World Forum’s top sponsor far from the ‘gold’ standard

    The annual closed door meeting of education ministers and government officials is attracting heavy criticism after choosing Bridge International Academies as its top sponsor, a decision protested by global education unions and civil society groups.

    Education World Forum’s top sponsor far from the ‘gold’ standard
  12. News 20 January 2017

    State-of-the-art research frames global response to privatisation

    Prominent scholars, analysts and trade union leaders are convening in Brussels to lay out the mechanisms, strategies and trends in the privatisation of education – with the aim of turning research into successful action.

    State-of-the-art research frames global response to privatisation
  13. News 13 January 2017

    Facing up to the WTO summit, the Peoples’ Summit

    The CTERA, the trade union confederation and affiliate of Educational International in Argentina, raised its voice against the commodification and privatisation of education at the ‘Peoples’ Summit’, which took place in Buenos Aires.

    Facing up to the WTO summit, the Peoples’ Summit
  14. News 5 December 2016

    New study dismantles mirage of ‘low-fee’ private schools

    A new report looks into the operations of Bridge International Academies in Kenya and uncovers the reality behind the private for-profit provider’s claims to offer ‘affordable’ quality education.

    New study dismantles mirage of ‘low-fee’ private schools
  15. News 1 December 2016

    Francophonie vote to actively monitor private education stakeholders

    Leaders of the Francophonie member countries have voted in favour of promoting “effective institutional arrangements for regulating private stakeholders in education”, in line with the long-standing advocacy work of Education International and affiliates.

    Francophonie vote to actively monitor private education stakeholders
  16. News 9 November 2016

    Philippines: shining a light on a shadowy edu-business

    In a forum held at Manila City Polytechnic University, teacher unionists and students could gain first-hand information about the operations of the so-called Affordable Private Education Centers in their country.

    Philippines: shining a light on a shadowy edu-business