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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. Opinion 9 April 2020

    "World Bank shifts position on funding for most private-for-profit schools", by David Edwards.

    David Edwards

    In a sudden and far-reaching policy shift, World Bank President David Malpass has agreed to major reforms that include officially freezing any direct or indirect investments in private for-profit pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. This has been a critical issue for Education International for many years and has been the...

    "World Bank shifts position on funding for most private-for-profit schools", by David Edwards.
  2. News 6 February 2020

    Arab educators tackle diverse challenges to education and teachers in their region

    At a recent meeting, the Committee of the Education International’s Arab Countries Cross Regional Structure reaffirmed their commitment to fight education privatisation and defend democracy in the region. Committee members reported on the challenges faced in their national settings, discussed recent union activities, and strategised for future action and campaigns.

    Arab educators tackle diverse challenges to education and teachers in their region
  3. Opinion 31 January 2020

    Privatisation of education in Morocco - A multi-speed education system and a polarised society

    By Khadija Abdous This blog summarises some of the main findings from the recently published research report: Privatisation of Education in Morocco - A Multi-speed Education System and A Polarized Society , which outlines the current trends and manifestations of education privatisation in Morocco. It is also an opportunity to...

    Privatisation of education in Morocco - A multi-speed education system and a polarised society
  4. Research

    Privatisation of education in Morocco. A multi-speed education system and a polarised society.

    Khadija Abdous
    24 January 2020

    The study is a detailed examination of the trends and current manifestations of privatisation in education in Morocco. The report also sheds light on various public education reforms implemented in Morocco and how privatisation policies have affected these reforms.

    Privatisation of education in Morocco. A multi-speed education system and a polarised society.
    1. Report (in French)
    2. Summary (in English)
    3. Summary (in Arabic)
  5. Opinion 17 January 2020

    Educators reject the Education Outcomes Fund

    By David Edwards, General Secretary - Education International  The Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) is set to launch its first operations in just a few months' time. As the preparations ensue, Education International, the voice of over 32 million teachers and educators from across the globe, wants to make it clear...

    Educators reject the Education Outcomes Fund
  6. News 13 January 2020

    The privatisation of education under the spotlight in the Caribbean

    On January 11-12 leaders of Education International member organisations in the Caribbean came together in Bridgetown, Barbados to develop a deeper understanding of Education International’s Global Response to the privatisation and commercialisation of education and to consider the situation across their region.

    The privatisation of education under the spotlight in the Caribbean
  7. Opinion 23 December 2019

    "On life and the market", by David Edwards.

    David Edwards

    From an early age, we try to fit children into the world. Instead, perhaps, we should reflect on how the world should fit children.

    "On life and the market", by David Edwards.
  8. Opinion 20 December 2019

    Public Private Partnerships in Liberia have failed! The Education Minister must act now to save the Liberian Education system

    By Mary Mulbah and Samuel Y. Johnson  In this blog responding to the recent release of RCT results on Liberia’s PPP experiment, the President and General Secretary of the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) reaffirm teachers’ rejection of the Liberian Education Advancement Programme and urge the government to focus...

    Public Private Partnerships in Liberia have failed! The Education Minister must act now to save the Liberian Education system
  9. Opinion 16 December 2019

    An attempt at the first ‘Davos of Education’: Dissonances in the OECD-Forum for World Education on The Future of Education

    By Camilla Addey and Antoni Verger, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain This year’s PISA 2018 data launch on 3rd December 2019 was no normal launch. Angel Gurría, the Secretary General of the OECD, released the league tables, focusing his analysis on top performers (which included, as is becoming usual, a...

    An attempt at the first ‘Davos of Education’: Dissonances in the OECD-Forum for World Education on The Future of Education
  10. News 28 November 2019

    Greece: Report warns of emerging privatisation in public education

    Today Education International (EI) affiliates in Greece launched a study revealing the growing trend towards privatisation in public education, following years of austerity and poor funding. The report marks the beginning of a regional strategy to fight privatisation and commercialisation in education in Southern Europe.

    Greece: Report warns of emerging privatisation in public education
  11. News 22 November 2019

    Chile: educators demand an end to the violence

    During its 55th meeting in Brussels on November 19-21, the Executive Board of Education International (EI) adopted a resolution condemning the violence against peaceful protestors in Chile and demanding respect for students, teachers and civil society.

    Chile: educators demand an end to the violence
  12. Opinion 8 November 2019

    How the global edu-business Pearson is making higher education markets

    By Ben Williamson, University of Edinburgh, UK The global education business Pearson has established itself as a major player in higher education around the world. With core business interests in data-driven education, digital online courses, and alternative HE models, Pearson is actively promoting the further marketization, commercialization and privatization of...

    How the global edu-business Pearson is making higher education markets
  13. Opinion 7 November 2019

    #SABERexposed “Engaging the Private Sector”, by Brendan DeCoster.

    Brendan DeCoster

    As part of the blog series critiquing the World Bank’s Systems Approach for Better Education Results (SABER) initiative, I examine some of the more problematic aspects of the Bank’s claims that 1) they are representing a consensus on engagement of the private sector and 2) that they are not pursuing...

    #SABERexposed “Engaging the Private Sector”, by Brendan DeCoster.