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. Opinion 23 June 2021

    "Celebrating the value and virtue of public service."

    David Edwards

    United Nations Public Service Day was established by the General Assembly in 2002. It “celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community; highlights the contribution of public service in the development process; recognizes the work of public servants and encourages young people to pursue careers in the...

    "Celebrating the value and virtue of public service."
  2. Opinion 21 June 2021

    “The mutation of cultural species in the digital ecosystem.”

    Omar Rincón

    We are living through a cultural mutation that has driven the digital revolution, as very poetically documented by the writer Alessandro Barrico (2008, 2019), when he speaks of a “barbaric mutation”, which makes us live “amphibiously between two civilisations”. This mutation has meant that in the 20th century, there has...

    “The mutation of cultural species in the digital ecosystem.”
  3. Opinion 31 May 2021

    “Privatised education: the virus exposed by the pandemic.”

    Shelley L. Morse

    As Covid-19 continues to reap havoc and draw the public’s attention, governments across Canada are sharing a privatisation playbook as they use the pandemic as cover to transform publicly funded public education.

    “Privatised education: the virus exposed by the pandemic.”
  4. Opinion 21 May 2021

    "Virtual education: some things matter"

    Esteban Magnani

    Big tech companies have found data to be an invaluable source of profit. What is data used for? Should schools become a conduit for companies to become even wealthier? How can it be avoided?As part of the series of conferences “Digital culture and education” organized by Education International Latin America...

    "Virtual education: some things matter"
  5. Opinion 18 May 2021

    “Commitment to social dialogue in education in the European Union: rhetoric or game-changer?”

    Tore Bernt Sorensen, Emiliano Grimaldi, Tomasz Gajderowicz

    Structures that ensure the meaningful representation of the education workforce in social dialogue with employers are fundamental for effective reform and quality education. Yet, little is known about the relationship between social dialogue, privatisation and trends in education reform in the scientific literature.

    “Commitment to social dialogue in education in the European Union: rhetoric or game-changer?”
  6. Opinion 28 April 2021

    “Investing in education: a must for post-pandemic recovery and SDG progress”, by Dennis Sinyolo

    Dennis Sinyolo

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage communities and test education systems around the world.Evidence from Education International’s surveys on the impact of COVID-19 on education shows that the equity and quality gaps have widened because of the pandemic (see for example here and here).

    “Investing in education: a must for post-pandemic recovery and SDG progress”, by Dennis Sinyolo
  7. Opinion 12 April 2021

    “On Edtech, the public good, and democracy”, by David Edwards.

    David Edwards

    The COVID-19 pandemic has brought death and despair. However, it has also sharpened our vision. We have seen dangers more clearly and trends that were threatening the health of our societies. In some areas, like inequality, it is apparent to everybody. In others, however, risky developments are partially hidden. These...

    “On Edtech, the public good, and democracy”, by David Edwards.
  8. News 6 April 2021

    Europe: Study on industrial relations and privatisation

    A study for the ETUCE, EI’s European region, showed the impact of market ideology and management practices and privatisation on industrial relations and social dialogue. In addition to looking at the evolution of EU policy in the past decade, researchers studied different methods and results of industrial relations in Francophone...

    Europe: Study on industrial relations and privatisation
  9. Opinion 9 February 2021

    “Post-pandemic reform of higher education: Market-first or purpose-first digital transformation?”, by Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan.

    Ben Williamson, Anna Hogan

    Educational technologies have become central to higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state of emergency in tertiary systems worldwide has enabled private edtech companies, global tech businesses, and the networks of promoters backing them, to define the post-pandemic future of the university.

    “Post-pandemic reform of higher education: Market-first or purpose-first digital transformation?”, by Ben Williamson and Anna Hogan.
  10. News 8 December 2020

    WIPO’s missed opportunity to produce guidance on copyright exceptions hits education during pandemic

    A legal instrument on copyright exceptions for the use of materials for teaching, learning, research, and the work of cultural heritage organisations is still not available. According to Education International, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) missed an opportunity at its recent Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR)...

    WIPO’s missed opportunity to produce guidance on copyright exceptions hits education during pandemic
  11. News 1 December 2020

    Educators seek to influence UNESCO's 2021/22 Global Education Monitoring Report

    Teacher unions have a key role to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their voices must be heard. That’s according to Education International in its latest contribution to the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report consultations on non-state actors.

    Educators seek to influence UNESCO's 2021/22 Global Education Monitoring Report
  12. News 25 November 2020

    Survey Report | Teaching with Tech: The Role of Education Unions in Shaping the Future

    Today Education International released the report of its Future of Work in Education Global Survey on the use of technology in education. Produced by Dr Christina Colclough, the report was launched during a special session of the Education International Executive Board.

    Survey Report | Teaching with Tech: The Role of Education Unions in Shaping the Future
  13. Opinion 20 November 2020

    The World Depends on Public Services and Public Services Require Political Will.

    Rosa Pavanelli, David Edwards

    As G20 world leaders meet, it is time for a fundamental overhaul of global investment policy to build for the future. That future depends on public services and the people who provide them. Crisis has brought recognition to “front-line” workers, public and private, who are both visible and essential. However,...

    The World Depends on Public Services and Public Services Require Political Will.