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. Opinion 15 September 2019

    “Education on the International Day of Democracy”, by David Edwards.

    David Edwards

    The United Nations established the International Day of Democracy on the 15th of September in 2007 to promote democracy. In 2019, it is clear that democracy and all the things that go with it like human rights and rule of law need to be defended as well as promoted. Education...

    “Education on the International Day of Democracy”, by David Edwards.
  2. News 7 September 2019

    UK: Member of Parliament argues for international aid to support public education systems, not private providers

    Education International welcomes the intervention of UK Member of Parliament Dan Carden who demanded that his country’s international aid be used to support universally accessible inclusive quality public education, and not private education providers in the Global South.

    UK: Member of Parliament argues for international aid to support public education systems, not private providers
  3. News 5 September 2019

    Argentina: new video gives insights into mechanisms of privatisation and commercialisation in education

    Focusing on the key findings of a study on the privatisation of education in Argentina commissioned by Education International, the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Educación de la República Argentina has launched the video ‘Educación S.A.’ to highlight how economic interests advocating for the privatisation and commercialisation of Argentina’s public...

    Argentina: new video gives insights into mechanisms of privatisation and commercialisation in education
  4. Opinion 5 September 2019

    “Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Cote d’Ivoire: problematic privatization and a framework to be redefined”, by Eric Lavigne.

    Eric Lavigne

    The Pathways to Education and Work research group from the University of Toronto has published its report entitled “Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Cote d’Ivoire”. The study assesses, negatively, the results of privatization of education on technical and vocational education and training (TVET), calls for more public participation,...

    “Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Cote d’Ivoire: problematic privatization and a framework to be redefined”, by Eric Lavigne.
  5. Publications

    An education union guide to copyrights and copywrongs in education and research

    28 August 2019

    Copyright laws around the world are being changed to accommodate the digital environment. It is essential that education unions take an active role in copyright reforms to ensure that teachers and researchers are not deprived of their rights to use and build upon creative works for teaching, learning and research.

    An education union guide to copyrights and copywrongs in education and research
    1. Download
  6. News 21 August 2019

    Liberia: civil society calls on government to stop the expansion of private education

    The fight against the privatisation of education has taken a step further in Liberia. The National Teachers' Association of Liberia together with twelve civil and human right organisations and two religious organisations sent a joint letter to public authorities reminding them of their responsibility to ensure quality public education for...

    Liberia: civil society calls on government to stop the expansion of private education
  7. Opinion 13 August 2019

    “For the integrity and status of Higher Education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training”, by Fred van Leeuwen.

    Fred van Leeuwen

    Higher education is indispensable if we are to maintain a foundation of facts, knowledge and free discussion in society. TVET reaches very many young people and adults and has a key education function in addition to providing skills training. Both are under attack as many, public and private, innocently or...

    “For the integrity and status of Higher Education and Technical and Vocational Education and Training”, by Fred van Leeuwen.
  8. Research

    Technical and vocational education and training as a framework for social justice: Analysis and evidence from world case studies

    Gavin Moodie, Leesa Wheelahan, Eric Lavigne
    31 July 2019

    This report observes several limitations of human capital theory, both as a description of the way qualifications are used in the labour market, and in severely limiting the potential roles of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). It proposes as an alternative the human capabilities approach which posits that...

    Technical and vocational education and training as a framework for social justice: Analysis and evidence from world case studies
    1. Download
  9. News 26 July 2019

    Educators’ unions in Australia and the EU call for education to be carved out of trade negotiations

    During the Education International (EI) 8th World Congress, affiliated educators’ unions in Australia and the European Union issued a statement calling for the Australian government and the European Commission to be more transparent in ongoing negotiations on the potential free trade agreement and to explicitly carve out education from the...

    Educators’ unions in Australia and the EU call for education to be carved out of trade negotiations
  10. Opinion 26 July 2019

    “Education Unions and the Struggle for Democracy”, by Hugo Yasky.

    Hugo Rubén Yasky

    “As we approach the centenary of the birth of Paulo Freire, whose teachings continue to inspire and influence our actions, the Latin American Pedagogical Movement, EILA and its national member organisations embody the collective will to defend education as a social right and a powerful means for the emancipation of...

    “Education Unions and the Struggle for Democracy”, by Hugo Yasky.
  11. News 25 July 2019

    EI celebrates education champions

    Today Education International honoured two outstanding activists during its 8th World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand. Curtis Riep received the Albert Shanker Education Award and Jalila al Salman received the Mary Hatwood Futrell Human and Trade Union Rights Award.

    EI celebrates education champions
  12. Opinion 24 July 2019

    Trump, Trumps, Trumpted: Cat and Mouse Games in ‘The Education House of Cards’

    By Susan L Robertson, Professor of Sociology of Education - Faculty of Education, Cambridge I’ve recently been heard remarking  I never thought I would say  politics appears to be trumping economics. Of course, I am mostly talking about the disastrous consequences for the UK economy if BREXIT  finally comes to...

    Trump, Trumps, Trumpted: Cat and Mouse Games in ‘The Education House of Cards’
  13. News 20 July 2019

    The highs and lows of higher education analysed at EI Congress

    Participants at the higher education caucus learnt from academics from all over the world on topics ranging from the lack of funds, privatisation and commercialisation of higher education to precarious employment conditions and attacks on academic freedom.

    The highs and lows of higher education analysed at EI Congress
  14. News 13 June 2019

    Former EI President Thulas Nxesi appointed to South Africa’s cabinet

    Education international and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union welcome the decision of the President of South Africa’s to appoint former President of Education International, Cde Thulas Nxesi, to the Cabinet of South Africa as Minister of Labour and Employment.

    Former EI President Thulas Nxesi appointed to South Africa’s cabinet