Resolution on: Commercialisation of the Sustainable Development Goals

published 23 September 2019 updated 23 September 2019

The 8th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21st to 26th July 2019:

(1) The 8th Education International (EI) World Congress meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21st to 26th July 2019, notes that:

(i) in September 2015 the United Nations agreed upon the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and

(ii) SDG4 calls on governments to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

(2) Congress reiterates its support for:

(i) a standalone goal on education; and

(ii) the focus on teachers in SDG4.c (By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States).

(3) Congress expresses its deep concern over private actors using the SDGs to justify their entry into the educational sphere. In particular, Congress is alarmed at SDG17.17, which instructs governments to encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships.

(4) Businesses such as Bridge International, Pearson, Elsevier, PWC and more have used the SDGs to justify their role in education development. They have often done so while ignoring SDG4.1, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes.

(5) Congress remains deeply concerned that the engagement of private actors in education:

(i) undermines public education;

(ii) does not deliver equity and quality;

(iii) is not sustainable; and

(iv) is not sufficiently transparent and accountable to children, teachers, parents and the community.

(6) Congress rejects all commercialisation of education and profit-making motives in education delivery and reaffirms its commitment to realising the right of all children to a free, quality, public education.

(7) Congress mandates the Executive Board to:

(i) urge governments to reject SDG17.17 and renounce public-private partnerships in education;

(ii) urge governments to protect all the SDGs from commercial interests and reaffirm their commitment to SDG4.1;

(iii) monitor developments in the engagement of private actors in SDG4 and their use of the SDGs as justification for profit-making, particularly in the Global South; and

(iv) support affiliates to monitor their own governments to insulate the SDGs, and SDG4 in particular, against commercial interests and profit-making motives.